Bad trip dude. Why the language of the bad trip is unhelpful and why difficult and bad are not the same thing

Dr Adam R Winstock
Founder and Director Global Drug survey and Consultant Psychiatrist

This year GDS is working with a number of psychedelic research and harm reduction groups to better understand how these unique drugs are being used across from the world. From exploring how Ayahausca has become the next new place to visit to people using small doses of LSD to enhance creativity and work performance, GDS also wanted to find out a little more about what the world often refers to ‘a bad trip’. We thought this was important because the term holds all sort of negative connotations from losing one’s mind and kick starting the onset of severe mental illness to getting lost in the chaos of overwhelming hallucinations. The reality for most people however is that often a psychedelic experience is neither totally good or bad and that it is the totality of the experience that leads to growth and transformation. Within guided psychedelic therapy sessions it is often meeting, engaging with and transforming ones emotional relationship to self and the past that allows healing and growth to occur. So at a time where drugs like LSD are undergoing a therapeutic and popular renaissance it is important that misinformation and myth does not derail what is looking like very positive work on offering hope to some with severe mental illness.

Partnering with the media gives GDS a unique opportunity to influence how drugs are conceived and reported by the media. Many media outlets take the low lying fruit of drug related misery and despair, though others, including many of our partners are invested in delivering a more honest conversation with their readers.

GDS does not shy away from exploring risks related to drug use. Indeed, one of our key aims to identify those risks be they constitutional, environmental or behavioural and share them with the drug using communities to help them minimise the risks of harm. One issue that we felt needed more thorough discussion was the ‘bad trip’ and we thought it would make interesting reading for everyone. With input from the likes of Imperial Psychedelic Research Group, Breaking Convention, Beckely Foundation, MAPS, Zendo Project, Kosmic Care and TripSit, GDS2017 will conduct the biggest exploration of the difficult experiences people encounter under the influence of psychedelics. We’ll describe what those experiences are, how people cope with them, learn from and to decide when it’s all is said and done whether they would call it ‘bad trip’

The survey is translated into 10 languages and asks loads of other fascinating about these amazing, distorting and versatile drugs. So if you have an e-mail list, great social media networks, friends in the media please share the survey link with them and like our Face Book page.

In a post factual world experience counts more than ever. Please take part this year

Thank you

Dr Adam Winstock