Parents concerned their teens may be using hallucinogens such as LSD and mushrooms may be shocked to discover the safety of their teen while hallucinating may be up to their friends who are “trip-sitting”.
Trip-sitting is term used to describe when a sober friend hangs out with one or more other friends while they use illicit drugs that cause hallucinations. While it may appear to be a responsible move to have a sober friend present, most teens are not mature or experienced enough to handle many of the severe situations that can occur when someone is under the influence of hallucinogens. Additionally, many teens may not know who or when to call if an emergency arises.
In order to understand what could go wrong while “trip-sitting”, it might be good to understand how hallucinogens works and the adverse reactions that can occur. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that alter perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions), thoughts, and feelings. They cause hallucinations, or sensations and images that seem real though they are not.” They go on to note that “some hallucinogens also cause users to feel out of control or disconnected from their body and environment.”
Side effects and adverse reactions
NIH also states that some of the common side effects of taking a hallucinogen besides visual disturbances include:
• “Increased heart rate
• Intensified feelings and sensory experiences
• Changes in sense of time”
Some people who hallucinate enjoy their experience while other can have what is referred to as a “bad trip”. When this happens, the user may become extremely uncomfortable with their intensified feelings or they may have hallucinations that are frightening. In instances like this, they may have severe reactions which according to NIH include:
• “Paranoia – extreme and unreasonable distrust of others [and]
• Psychosis – disordered thinking detached from reality”
The teen hallucinating may become violent towards other or themselves as well.
Teen ability to handle situations
While some teens can handle the intense situations that may occur with a bad trip, the majority may not be mature enough to safely handle a hallucinogenic panic attack from a friend. Teens are encouraged to refrain from hallucinogenic use and to tell a trusted adult immediately if they witness a friend displaying behavior that could put themselves or the public at risk.