The Grapevine

Bad Trip? Volunteers At Tripsit Will Talk You Through Your Experience With Psychedelic Drugs, Offer Harm-Reduction Resources

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Tripping too hard? Tripsit can help. Pixabay Public Domain

A drug user suffering an overdose could have many urgent needs — medication to reverse the drug’s effect, a sedative to lower heart rate, or a dunk in an ice bath to cool overheating. Sometimes, though, all they need is confirmation that they, and everything around them, are real.

This might seem odd, but a person on a bad trip from an overdose of psychedelic drugs requires a different kind of help than if they had taken too much of an opioid, stimulant, or depressant. Calming music, advice, or simply someone to talk to can sometimes make all the difference to a user experiencing paranoia or a break with reality. This is where Tripsit, a site aimed at providing harm reduction and a space for open discussion, excels.

Launched in 2011, the site promotes a non-judgmental atmosphere where drug users can discuss the philosophical, medical, and scientific aspects of drug use without feeling stigmatized. They do not condone drug abuse, but say they understand “the good and bad side of drugs … and that individuals will use drugs regardless of their current legality.”

The site offers an interactive chat service where volunteers help high and tripping people. Users suffering from paranoia usually need help the most, and the most quickly.

“This can happen when someone is not sure if the substance they took is safe, or if they are worried that they will be ‘caught,’ by a friend, parent, or other person,” Tripsit founder Eric Hoftiezer explained to The Daily Beast. “These people can usually be talked down to a more reasonable state when they are presented with facts or distracted with conversation.”

This kind of support, though it may seem minor compared to the lifesaving effects of an anti-overdose drug, is actually imperative when it comes to reducing negative consequences of psychedelic drugs. LSD, cannabis, and psychedelic mushrooms are all among the top substances that bring users to the site and rarely cause serious physical harm on their own. Instead, they put users in an altered reality where they’re in danger of hurting themselves unknowingly — a person high on LSD might wander into traffic and die, for example.

Avoiding these dangers is what makes Tripsit so valuable to users. The site reassures users that someone is listening, offering immediate assistance for those feeling anxiety or confusion during a trip, and a general chat for less pressing questions and concerns. Tripsit also offers links to factsheets detailing the chemistry and effects of various drugs, and even a chart showing which drug combinations are highly dangerous.

The Tripsit team considers harm reduction the best way to combat the stigmatization of drug use in America, and in turn, dangerous drug use.

“[Substance abuse] is vilified to the point that people who use substances have no one to turn to in order to make sure they do so safely,” Hoftiezer said. “I’ve known people who were not able to get help due to stigma against substances, who felt very isolated from their fellow humans due to being unable to share experiences without fear of judgement or even legal problems.”

Hoftiezer said the Tripsit approach is realistic; people will take mind-altering substances regardless of legality or treatment availability.

“Either we, as a society, can continue to ignore this issue and allow the negative effects of drug use to run rampant, or we can provide people the information and support to make informed decisions and engage in drug use in the safest way possible.”

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