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How to handle a Drug Induced Crisis Situation

by Bill Kovski May 23, 2016 0 Comments

How to handle a Drug Induced Crisis Situation

Art: Hakan Hisim- Primordial-Playhouse
Crisis Situation (Emotional, Mental, Spiritual) 

How to deal with the situation depends on the persons symptoms. 
Crisis situations can be:
Belligerent or violent outbursts
Complete disassociation from the external world
Debilitating paranoia
Fear to relatively harmless compulsive or psychotic behaviour.

So many times in these adventures, we overshoot with dosages; we take too much, we fail to weigh out the amount and pay the price. Other times, we go into psychedelic experiences with a volatile and uneasy mind. The list that is provided in this post is not exclusive to people tripping but can be used to help anyone going through a crisis situation. 

Quick List

  • Try to get a sense of 'how far out' they are. Do they know where they are, what time of day it is, what their name is.
  • Tell them where they are and what time it is if they do not know. 
  • Reassure them in a calm, matter-of-fact tone that you are with them and watching out for them.
  • Smiling is contagious so fill them with warmness. 
  • Tell them to let go and relax into the feelings.
  • Repeat the mantra "breathe, relax, let go"
  • Understand that the stress is because they are fighting and resisting an uncomfortable internal response out of fear.
  • Remind them that this is a substance-induced state of mind, which will end.
  • Remind them to breathe and relax.
  • Let them know that spiritual crises are normal.
  • Be as calm as possible while talking to them, and use a normal tone of voice even if you are feeling anxious yourself.
  • If possible, bring them some water or a piece of bread. Ask them if they would like a sip or a bite.
  • Sit and talk. Pass the time with them.
  • If you know their name, use it a couple of times. "Hey John, how are you?
  • Introduce yourself, say your name and how you come to be there.
  • Look at beautiful things.
  • Sing (anything, but especially children's songs such as Row, Row, Row Your Boat).
  • Pet or play with an animal.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Recall good memories (beach, children, etc.).
  • Dance.
  • Hold hands.
  • Use a pencil, colored pencils to create some art, expressing what they are feeling inside. 

Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Don't try too hard to 'get them to come down'.
  • Don't confuse them by repeatedly asking them questions they can't answer.
  • Don't make them feel even more isolated by acting worried and nervous around them.
  • Probably avoid any complex physical activities, like trying to zipper a jacket or fixing the stereo or lighting the pilot light on the stove.
  • Respect their needs and boundaries.
    • Don't touch them if they don't want to be touched.
    • Give them space if they seem to want it.

What To Do

    1.  Ask them if they would like someone to sit with them. If they say no, have someone nearby keep an eye on them.
    2. Tell them where they are. Just be there for them and try to see the world through their eyes.
    3. Change the setting like noise level, temperature, outside vs. inside.
    4. If it is at a party/rave/concert setting consider locating the quietest place, if it seems like it will help (taking cues from the experiencer), and ask people to not crowd around. Reassure them the situation is under control, noting those who offer help in case help is needed later.
    5. Your concern for how the person is feeling, not concern for the situation.
    6. What objects/activities/distractions might help the person get through a difficult space (toys, animals, music, etc.)?
    7. Touch. Touch can be very powerful, but it can also be quite violating. In general, don't touch them unless they say its OK or they touch you first. If it seems like they might need a hug, ask them. If they are beyond verbal communication, try to be very sensitive to any negative reaction to touch. Try to avoid getting pulled into any sexual contact. Often, holding hands is a very effective and non-threatening way to let someone know you are there if they need you.
    8. Intensity can come in cycles or waves. There a beginning, middle and end- dont push it, just let it be.
    9. Not Forever: Assure them that the state is due to a psychoactive and they will return to their 'home' state of mind in time.
    10. Normal Drug-Induced: Tell them they are experiencing the acute effects of a psychoactive (if you know what, tell them) and tell them that it is normal (although uncommon) to go through spiritual crises and they (like thousands before them) will be fine if they relax and let the substance run its course.
    11. Breathing: breathe with them. If they are connected enough to be present for assistance, get them to join you in deep, long, full breaths. If they're amenable to it, or really far out and freaking, putting a hand on their belly and saying, "breath from down here", "just keep breathing, you 'got it", can help.
    12. Relaxing: It can be very very hard to relax in the middle of dying or being pulled apart by demons, but tell them that you are there to make sure nothing happens to their physical body. One of the most important things during really difficult internal processes is to learn to be OK with them happening, to 'relax' one's attempt to stop the experience and just let it happen.
    13. Getting Meditative: Gently suggesting they try to close their eyes and focus inward can sometimes change the course of their experience.
    14. Barefeet on the ground: One of the most centering and grounding thing to do is to take off shoes and socks and get your feet directly on the hard ground. Be careful of doing this in toe-dangerous surroundings.
    15. Eye contact: If the person is not acting paranoid and fearful of you, make sure to include a lot of eye contact.
    16. Everything is Fine with Me: Make it clear that the whole world may be falling apart for them, but everything is OK with you.
    17. Healthy process: Crises are a normal part of the human psychological process and one way to engage them is as a process of healing, not a 'problem' to be fixed.
      See Grof, Bill Richards, et al.

      Here are some helpful links for people who are going through a tough experience. 
      - Tripsit 



Bill Kovski
Bill Kovski