Psychedelics have seen a resurgence in recent years. With countries like Canada offering medical exemptions for hallucinogens, and legalizing cannabis, more law-abiding citizens are opening up to using recreational psychedelics. This new outlook on psychedelics is inclusive, inviting inexperienced, first-time consumers. These may not know what to expect, and could use a friend to guide them through the process. Enter the trip sitter.
What is a Trip Sitter?
Known as a healer, a guide, or a co-pilot, a trip sitter is a sober guide through a psychedelic journey. Like a designated driver, this is the responsible adult volunteering to stay sober to keep everyone consuming the recreational drug safe. They also provide a positive, calm presence if the experience becomes intense or challenging.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies(MAPS) describes a trip sitter as an anchor, a helpful presence to guide their friends home safely from their psychedelic journey. Ideally, someone experienced with the specific psychedelic in use, already aware of the potential side effects of a bad trip. Researching and understanding any psychedelic before consumption is key for not only the user, but for the responsible trip sitter.
You Can Call a Professional
There are a growing number of professionals dedicating their time to researching and understanding psychedelics from an empathetic perspective. Nurses and psychologists may act as trip sitters for a variety of reasons. As more research is done on the effects and medicinal uses of psychedelics, psychologists are opening up to acting as a trip sitter so that they may conduct clinical trials and studies on the effects of certain drugs.
Other professionals, including Gabor Mate in Costa Rica and Dr. Alberto Sola in Mexico, conduct wellness retreats. Here, consumers try psychedelics under supervision of trained therapists and doctors.
For those at home responsibly consuming a recreational psychedelic, there is TripSit. TripSit is a website dedicated to online trip sitting. With a 24/7 online chat service, they use harm reduction tools to guide consumers through their challenging psychological journeys.
A trip sitter doesn’t need to be a professional. Sometimes, a trusted friend is all someone needs in order to make their experience safe and keep their emotions stable. As long as this friend remains supportive and non-judgemental, and is well versed in the psychedelic in use, anyone can be a responsible trip sitter.
Who Needs a Trip Sitter?
While having a trip sitter is a wonderful harm reduction tactic for first time, inexperienced users, the fact of the matter is that everyone can benefit from a sober, authentic presence while under the influence of a psychedelic. No two trips are the same, and any psychedelic experience can turn sour, even for experienced users who consume their drug of choice legally and responsibly. It is wise to have a trip sitter for any and every psychedelic adventure, just as it is to do extensive research beforehand, and test the drug for its safety.
One of Many Types of Harm Reduction
As the community of recreational and medical psychedelic users grows, so too do the tools, tips, and guides to reduce the chances of harm involved. Trip sitting is just one of many forms of harm reduction to consider when consuming a psychedelic.
As always, it is important to mitigate the risks involved when considering consuming any illicit or unknown substance. While having a reliable trip sitter is one method of harm reduction, there are never any clear guarantees that a trip will be safe and successful, and discretion must always be used before consuming any psychedelic substance.
Carissa is a writer, painter, and actor in Toronto, Ontario. An alumnus of both McMaster University and Centennial College, she channels her creativity into everything she writes with an active intention to connect people through her writing.