3 Ways to Beat the Paranoid Trip
For some, a bad trip on marijuana is a once in a blue moon phenomenon, often associated with uncomfortable social settings or unique stresses in one’s life. For others—including many individuals whom I work with in my practice— even the smell of marijuana can induce a flash of panic. Here are three strategies to prevent or moderate MIPA (Marijuana Induced Paranoia/Anxiety).
(Please note, these strategies are only effective for adult cannabis users. If you are under 19 and experiencing psychologically disturbing reactions from cannabis, you’re best abstaining from cannabis until the brain has fully matured. Failure to do so may lead to prolonged periods of depersonalization/ derealization, not fun).
1) Preliminary Intention Setting
Try doing your next few toking sessions in solitude, where you have full control over your dosage and post-smoking agenda. Determine beforehand what it is you’d like to occupy yourself with during your experience. It can be something industrious, like creating art or reading The Communist Manifesto. Or perhaps it’s something as simple as perusing Facebook or playing a video game. Or, if you’re exceptionally brave, commit to a 30-minute meditation session. Whatever it is, this is what you’re going to do while you’re high. Commit to it and prepare to stick it out.
2) Positive Inhalations
This is going to sound a bit silly but it works. As you spark and inhale, flood your mind with a positive visualization or idea. I use the notions of medicine and healing, embracing the belief that whatever is destined to transpire in the short term, good or bad, will ultimately be an affirmation of my mental, physical, and intellectual wellbeing. Note, however, that this particular mantra only makes sense if you genuinely believe, as I do, that cannabis is making an overall positive contribution to your life. Cannabis is a powerful medicine, as such, it is subject to abuse. If you are misusing the plant (and only you can make this determination) and experiencing MIPA, consider adjusting your consumption patterns.
2) Observe, Don’t React
“Much of the time, it turns out, everyday minds are in a state of reactivity. We take this for granted, we do not question our automatic identifications with our reactions, and we experience ourselves at the mercy of an often hostile or frustrating outer world or an overwhelming or frightening inner one.
- Psychiatrist and Buddhist meditation teacher, Mike Epstein
Remember that song by Cheap Trick, “Surrender.” The chorus: “Surrender, Surrender, but don’t give yourself away.”
It’s a catchy song, sure, but catchiness alone doesn’t make a classic. Something about Surrender’s message is delightfully nuanced. It’s urgent and yearning, yet passive. Pugnacious, yet zen.
Paranoiac pot-smokers may perceive unusual, and often upsetting phenomena. In the Paranoia Management Coaching trade, we call these phenomena “Exposures,” as they are often characterized by a sense of objectified subordination to an outside entity— either a technologically-empowered and secretive oligarchy or some extra-dimensional (alien or ghost) consciousness.
These Exposures often prompt dramatic reactions even from normal, psychologically fit individuals. I worked with one client who reported becoming so upset during a “bad weed trip” that he boarded up his apartment window and encased himself in the shower to await the end of his psychotomimetic dysphoria. Cold water pouring over his body, he petitioned God for relief, promising he’d never smoke again.
Here’s the deal—there are essentially two ways to describe the nature of Exposures: they are either confined within the mind and fantasy of the paranoiac, or, they are legitimate preternatural evidence of conscious extra-dimensional agents that can be perceived when certain individuals (at certain times) engage new frequencies (cognition in relation to time) of perception.
While the cynics may delight (and find secret solace) in the former notion—“it’s all in your head”— it remains an ignorant, anti-evolutionary conclusion. Remember, preternatural phenomena are not new. We’ve been observing and applying them for years. Take gravity and magnetism for instance. Why was Newton’s simple “discovery” so relevant? Gravity was (and remains) a Force that can be observed, contextualized, and utilized, yet its quintessential raison d’etre was another mystery altogether—the province of quantum physics, which wouldn’t be excavated for centuries to come.
Most paranoiacs tend to put themselves in a bind. They feel they must judge their Exposures as evidence of insanity, or, worse, evidence of unexplained, profound, (and thus frightening) natural phenomena.
My advice, accept the scientific reality that many relevant phenomena have yet to be adequately modeled or understood. Be realistic and realize that the time we live in is in all likelihood but a fleeting moment in history, not the apex of the human experience.
Don’t react to or flee from preternatural phenomena. Observe them instead. Open your mind to their possibilities and approach them with wonder and mental fortitude. Expect and accept that these journeys may include discomfort and anxiety. What you are experiencing is normal. It’s ok to be afraid, but never forget or discount who you are. Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself away.
As stated by the Buddha— “Your worst enemy cannot hurt you as much as your own thoughts, when you haven’t mastered them. But once mastered, no one can help you as much—not even your father and mother.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the inner-workings of MPMC (Marijuana Paranoia Management Coaching), check out my ebook. Until then, if not calm, stay curious and carry on.