Steps to Help a Friend Through a Bad Trip

A old school raver and drug user offers a guide on how to help a friend through a bad trip.

I'll be the first to admit that ecstasy, also known as MDMA, saved my life. I wouldn't be a functional person if I hadn't used molly to ease my PTSD. I'll also be the first to admit that I love to smoke pot and that I occasionally also partake in acid when I'm feeling particularly low. 

I'm a fairly experienced fan of drugs. Hell, being honest, I've done everything from heroin to PCP at one point or another. I've been there, done that, bought the tee shirt, and seen it all.

Long story short, I'm a seasoned drug user who's seen their fair share of bad trips. As someone who's experienced bad trips and also been a babysitter to the one having them, I know how important it is to help a friend through a bad trip. 

If you're wondering how to save your buddy from a bad trip, this is the advice I've been using for the past ten years. 

Before you even try to help your friend through a bad trip, make sure they're not overdosing.

Obviously, if we're talking about weed, there's no need to worry about an overdose. However, if we're talking about MDMA, PCP, or anything else, overdosing is a legit concern you need to worry about. 

Most of the time, you will be able to tell that someone's overdosing fairly quickly. With most drugs, the most common signs include:

  • Seizures
  • Passing out
  • Vomiting profusely
  • Turning blue
  • A slowed (or extremely rapid) heartbeat
  • Diarrhea
  • Clammy, sweaty skin 
  • Fever

Another sign of overdosing, which is more common with PCP and similar drugs linked to brain damage, is violent mood swings, incoherence, and screaming. This is usually apparent right before they start having seizures or clench their jaws so hard that their teeth break.

If your friend is overdosing, don't worry about how to help your friend through a bad trip—GET THEM MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY. Drive them to the hospital, or in the case of a PCP overdose, call the police because they may assault you. 

Hospitals are not allowed to arrest people who come for help while overdosing. Don't risk your friend dying just because you're worried about getting in trouble.

Is your friend just having a bad trip? Well, keep reading.

Do not panic.

One of the worst things you can do when you're trying to help a friend through a bad trip is panic. People who are seeing the bad side of drug trips feed off any bad vibes they can potentially sense, so if you act panicked and spastic, they'll get even worse. 

As hard as it may be, keep your composure or learn to laugh through your stress. 

Tell them that they are okay, and help guide them through breathing exercises.

Most of the time, all you really need to do to help a friend through a bad trip is to just give them a sense of normalcy. Most people who are dealing with a bad trip are really just nervous and having the drugs in their system reflect that. 

To help your buddy out, tell them that they are safe and that everything is okay. Tell them to join you in taking deep breaths, and tell them that they're around people who like them. Hold their hand if they let you, and if they ask for a hug, hug them. 

This pulls a surprising amount of people out of any bad trip they have. 

Get them some water.

No matter what drug they took, it seems like one of the best ways to help a friend through a bad trip is to get them some water. Cold water typically works best. The reason why is because water has a tendency to dilute the toxins in your bloodstream—and also tends to help you regain a little bit of focus. 

Drinking water feels good, and can easily allay a lot of the symptoms of a bad trip. 

If you want a quick way to quash a bad trip, give them something to play with.

One of the easiest ways to help a friend through a bad trip is to give them something to distract themselves with. Most people who are on a bad trip tend to panic if they don't have something to focus on. 

By giving them a coloring book, an adult hula hoop, or even asking them to play a video game with you, you're giving them something that can distract them. This gets them in a good headspace and also leaves you, the babysitter, with less headaches. 

Protip: Coloring books that have funny illustrations tend to work best with people who are dealing with a bad trip on weed. Hula hoops and plush toys are great for a bad trip on MDMA, while acid users tend to work well with anything that is calming and happy. 

If you're in a loud, crazy environment, move them somewhere that's peaceful and calm.

Most bad psychedelic trips and bad weed trips can be soothed by a quick change of scenery. The more calm you introduce to that person, the better off they'll be and the sooner they will be able to actually enjoy the trip that they have. 

Feelings of anxiety typically go away when you're in the presence of a peaceful person. Loud noises will not help that—at all. This is why a lot of people who go to raves end up heading to their cars just to cool down. Their cars are a safe space and a quiet place where they can unload. 

In the case of a public trip, getting them into a private setting can help prevent an arrest. Cops and others will notice if they see someone on a bad trip. 

If you're friend is experiencing hallucinogenic effects, you may need to calmly explain to them what's going on.

If you're new to helping a friend through a bad trip on acid, I feel for you—I really do. Even an LSD guru can end up having a hard time working with people on acid.

It's not easy to explain to people why they're seeing what they're seeing and they may not believe you. However, most will and they will appreciate you for it.

If they ask what something is, and they're pointing to nothing, just tell them that they are hallucinating. If anything, explain that you are real and there for them. 

The best way to handle this is to talk through the experience and let them grapple with it. More often than not, this approach will leave them learning more about themselves and feeling more confident in how they handle life. 

Figure out what they've taken, or if you already know, remind them.

A lot of people will forget what they took during a bad trip. Some may forget they took anything. That's why one of the best ways to help a friend through a bad trip is to remind them of what they took. 

Worried that your friend isn't acting right compared to what they took? Check to see if the weed was laced, or if it's a pill, grab a test kit to determine whether or not it was really what it was supposed to be. 

If they took tainted drugs, use your common sense and keep a closer eye on them. (You also may want to confront the dealer who gave them that stuff, too.)

Don't be afraid to ask others to help in babysitting.

Sometimes, trying to help a friend through a bad trip is not a one-person job. It's just not. Whether it's because they're violent or just a total buzzkill is irrelevant—what matters is that it's okay to ask for help. 

In the drug community, multiple people babysitting one person isn't that unusual. In fact, in some situations, it's absolutely necessary as a part of harm reduction. 

Don't be afraid to help them integrate them back into society afterwards.

A drug trip can be pretty intense, and sometimes, you don't come back out the same way you came in. If your friend needs to talk, listen to them and don't be afraid to refer them to a therapist who can help them further work through their issue. 

Part of learning how to help a friend through a bad trip is learning that the trip doesn't always end after the party. Be there for them, and they'll thank you for it. 

Iggy Paulsen
Iggy Paulsen

Iggy Paulsen is a fan of anything and everything wholesome. He loves his two dogs, hiking in the woods, traveling to Aruba, building DIY projects that better humanity, and listening to motivational speakers. He hopes to eventually become a motivational speaker himself.

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Steps to Help a Friend Through a Bad Trip