Potentiation

Depending on a number of factors (what you take, how much you take, what you do before/during, etc), a trip can be anywhere from a mild buzz and increase in mental energy to the total dissolution of the world around you and a loss of a sense of yourself as separate from the cosmos. Depending on what you’re after, any number of places on that spectrum might be desirable. Some people seem driven to plumb the depths of their unconscious; others are merely looking for some added creativity. In any case, it’s best to figure out what it is you want and proceed accordingly, so that you don’t end up either disappointed or overwhelmed.

The most obvious aspect of this is dosage: take more of most drugs and you’ll get higher than if you took less. It’s important to understand, however, that the more intense psychedelic experiences bear little in common with the less intense ones, and with many drugs it’s not just a matter of a gradual, predictable increase in intensity, nor does a low dose “prepare” you for a high dose; they may just be completely different in very fundamental ways. Naturally occurring drugs are especially hard to predict: eat the same amount of shrooms from the same batch three times and the first might be glorious but manageable, the second unbelievably overwhelming, and the third entirely uninteresting. Some drugs, such as Moxy (5-MeO-MiPT), are mild at any dose, mainly just developing worse side effects as you take more. Others, such as 2C-E, only seem worth the side effects when a powerful dose is taken. Still others, like LSD, are more pliable and can be used at many different dosages, depending what you’re after, although, again, small doses don’t really “prepare” you for anything, so taking a quarter-hit or similar might give you the energy and presence to have an awesome day, but you probably won’t “trip.” Pick both your drug and your dosage carefully, according to what you’re looking for.

Some people, once they have a couple trips under their belts, start to think they’ve “mastered” tripping, and from now on can handle anything. If this is you… you’re wrong; you can’t. Milder trips are generally predictable: once you’ve had a few, you know what to expect. Intense trips are not. Each is totally different from every other, and they’re almost always very surprising. You might think you know the territory of your mind, but there’s nothing like a plant or chemical teacher to pull the rug right out from under you and remind you that control is an illusion. The best thing you can do is to enter into it with all humility, a willingness to let go, and whatever you need to keep yourself centred and grounded already in place. Even very experienced psychonauts sometimes get taken completely by surprise.

The following are a few ways to intensify (potentiate) an experience, if that’s what you’re after. Use with caution! Your mind is not a toy that can be replaced.

– Introspection. Often, a psychedelic trip that seems mild when you’re moving around and talking will become drastically more intense if you just lie down, close your eyes and let come what comes. Sensory deprivation (blindfolds and similar) will help with this, as will intense music. Choose your music carefully, though: it should be progressive, not too “busy” and not too “harsh.” I personally enjoy post-rock, freak folk and dark ambient for this purpose, but a lot of the psychedelic psychotherapists swear by “classical” music. Indian ragas are also very effective.

– Setting an intention can also be a big part of amplifying the intensity of a trip. Focusing on a specific and personally meaningful thought or image can give the trip something to work with or build upon, rather than just waiting for something to happen. This typically works far better if you discuss it with your tripping partner(s) ahead of time, so you can feed off of one another’s energy rather than losing your intention in the fog of aimlessness and open-ended, ambivalent curiousity that often pervades group trips. If it’s your first time and you don’t know what sort of intention is appropriate, one thing you can do is to pick a simple symbolic concept (like water, fire or the moon) and surround yourself with things that remind you of it, the intention being to explore and better understand the concept in question. Note that different drugs are more suited toward different types of intentions; if you aren’t sure, ask someone more experienced, or leave a comment here!

Meditation. If you know any specific meditation practices or techniques, expect them to be super-charged! Most spiritual traditions insist that it requires training and guidance to properly react to or use the subtle energies present in some higher states; meditating while high is a powerful tool and can act as a short cut, exposing you to something you aren’t ready for. Some consider this to be very dangerous.

Amitabha

– Cannabis. Sometimes we mix drugs because we want to feel them both, or to balance each other’s side effects (or just for the hell of it), but it’s also possible to take one drug to strengthen another. Cannabis often seems to “kick up the dust” and make an experience more powerful, even bringing back the peak when you’ve started to come down. It can also cause a manageable experience to become unmanageable, however, so don’t smoke any if you’re already plenty high. Cannabis interacts with many other drugs (from alcohol to acid), so if you’re already on something else, don’t expect it to feel how it usually does!

Piracetam is a nootropic (smart drug) which also potentiates psychedelics. In addition to its remarkable cognition-boosting effects, it seems to make the “waves” that frequently come in psychedelic trips to each last longer, possibly even overlapping and compounding. At best this can make for a sharp, strong and consistent experience; at worst it can produce the uncomfortable feeling of having become “stuck” in a moment. Note that some people are hypersensitive to piracetam, and when you’re tripping is not a good time to find that out. Try it on its own first before combining it with anything.

Nitrous Oxide. Inhaled by itself recreationally or as an anaesthetic, N2O produces euphoria, a feeling of “floating,” timelessness and even mild psychedelia of its own. When combined with a conventional psychedelic, it blasts you into hyperspace. The combination is, therefore, extremely popular among experienced psychonauts who have access to the gas. Because of its very short duration, it functions as a way to occasion a momentary “peak” experience, even repeatedly during a trip. That it’s also used as an acceleration system in high performance cars seems entirely appropriate. Note that nitrous intended for cars shouldn’t be used to get high, as it’s often intentionally contaminated with sulfur dioxide to discourage recreational use.

This is nitrous oxide: N2O, two nitrogens and one oxygen. NO2 is nitrogen dioxide, and is poisonous

– Yoga/Qi Gong/Energy Work, or even just stretching, can produce a LOT of psychic energy, as well as provide a focus for your trip. The same warning as for meditation applies; consult your guru/sifu/teacher first, if you have one, before combining these practices with drugs (exercise while high, if done safely, is almost always really excellent; just be careful not to overdo it and injure yourself!). I highly recommend that everyone do a bit of yoga or stretching before dosing, but doubly so if you intend to exercise during the trip: get the boring stuff out of the way so you’re warmed up for whatever you want to do later.

– Sex can be extremely intense without combining it with psychedelics, and their synergy may lead to both an amplification of visions and a sense of fusing with your lover. Combine this further with sexual meditation like creating a circuit of energy through your bodies, or basic sex magick techniques like repeatedly pausing just shy of orgasm, and the result may be indescribable. However, don’t expect sex! Two people might agree that sex with each other while high sounds awesome, but then one’s trip might be stronger than expected and getting in the mood might be impossible — potential awkwardness! It’s also critical that this be done with the right person. Casual sex without an emotional bond might be fun and all normally, but if you’re going to do it while high, trust and intimacy become crucial. Also note that the conventional wisdom in psychedelic psychotherapy is that seeking sex serves as a distraction from the introspective work and is therefore to be discouraged. Your mileage may vary.

– Fasting. When people fast, even without taking any drugs, they sometimes have visions, so it’s not surprising that doing both together can be very powerful. Fasting before a trip also usually leads to a quieter, more introspective, visionary experience, because you’ll have less energy and less inclination to run around and interact with people. This is therefore a bad idea if you’re hoping for a social or creative trip, but good if you want a cleansing experience. Along the lines of altered food intake, vomiting can seriously jack up the intensity of a  trip, typically producing a feeling of “letting go” which might catapult you into the experience and produce a mild delirium. This is not recommended, but good to keep in mind: if you and your friend both dose, and your friend pukes, your friend may get much higher than you.

Once again, it’s important to understand that mild trips do not prepare you for intense trips, and that the drug can always throw you a curveball and disprove any notion that you’re “immune” or unshakable. It’s also not a contest: people generally get the most out of experiences that they can actually make sense of and remember afterward, so getting too high can just be a waste, or a great way to ask for a very bad experience. Be careful, be sure to have a sense of why you’re doing this, and try to think seriously about how high you think it’s actually best to get for pursuing that reason.

“It’s easy to get high. It’s not easy to get un-high when your baby walks in the room.” – Katt Williams

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    • Alex
    • September 26th, 2011

    The mixing of cannabis and LSD is something people might wish to be fairly cautious with. A little bit of cannabis can go a long way when you’re tripping. I had an experience where I was tripping and smoked a fair amount of weed, and would stop talking midsentence, and forget every single thought I had. Thanks again for an insightful article.

  1. No kidding. I’ve had a 2C-E trip go from manageable to unmanageable because someone offered me pot and accepting was the socially obvious thing to do. It was like being hit by a cyclone… whirling chaos, utter madness, sank into an abyss of fear and hallucination. Before the pot, I was having visions if I closed my eyes or really went into it, but not otherwise. After the pot it became constant and took over everything.

    • Jared
    • September 27th, 2011

    Yea I agree with the two other replies. I actually smoke herbal blends rather than weed cause its easy for me to buy and the supplier I buy from sells quality stuff. My first trip was on 2c-e. At around 2.5 hours in, I was tripping but I figured “What the hell, I’ll smoke” thinking it would enhance the visuals. Well let me tell you, it intensified the trip immensely. Almost instantly, this intense psychedelic mindset was opened up and it was almost overwhelming but I was able to talk my way through it. It was definitely kinda frightening at times but I had done plenty of research on the substance and knew it was a serious drug. I could definitely understand someone freaking out if they hadnt tripped before and then combined 2c-e with cannabis/jwh. It was the craziest thing I have ever experienced but when all was said and done I was glad I did it and plan on doing it again at some point.

  2. Careful with those synthetics. Cannabis is a complex herb with many medicinal effects that are going to be absent in a single chemical. Some of the synthetics have even been found to be carcinogenic.

    Also, their availability is likely to go down soon due to recent legislation to ban them.

    • Hamish Robertson
    • September 29th, 2011

    Hiya Michael – what have???!! you been up to? We must get together and compare experiences…. Admirably ample and comprehensive review, very cool… You know I’ve fallen off the cliff of faith? Hitting the ground wasn’t too bad, I’d been floating gently that way for a while. However it has consequences like the complete loss of my social life. Either that or I participate as ‘Christine’s husband’. Hmm. Wouldn’t for the veriest imperceplible fragment of a millisecond deny the status, but I still hesitate, Anyway, hence the message…

    over and out

    H.

    • Hamish Robertson
    • September 29th, 2011

    Oh and ps I noticed, on your site, if you’re serious about trying to find an audience, you need to use the ‘Categories’ function. Seriously. This is how fellow souls on the internet will find you, and an indispensible part of any self-publicising strategy….

    H

  3. I’d love to chat, Hamish… having trouble finding your email though and don’t feel it appropriate to go through Christine, given the particulars. Why don’t we make a time to have a cup some time in the next week? Do you have my phone number?

    Regarding the “what have you been up to,” I assume you’re expressing surprise at me writing about drugs? I’ve actually been studying the socio-cultural determinants of drug effects in an academic context for several years now, done more than one major research project… currently I’m working on collecting whatever good advice I can so that I can pool it in one minimal-bullshit place and use that to help people. I suppose you can imagine why such projects wouldn’t typically come up in conversation when you and I would typically see each other (ie, in the context of my parents, whose position seems to be to support my academics but merely tolerate my choice of subject matter).

  1. September 26th, 2011
  2. November 29th, 2013

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