Creating Positive Drug Experiences

One of the requests made to people contributing to this project was for them to explain, as far as they were able, what they did in order to generate a positive experience from using drugs. It is clear that a major reason for taking recreational drugs is to have fun and enhance the social interaction between those sharing the experience. But having an experience that changes one’s life seems to require more – and it was interesting to hear what the various contributors thought was necessary.

By now you will have read some of the experiences and seen what some people identified as important. There are some common themes.

The first is to set an intention, i.e. to state quite explicitly what it is that you want to gain as a result of taking the drug. This was eloquently expressed in ‘Finding Each Other’ as “is like getting into a powerful car having set the sat-nav to chart a very specific direction for travel”. The same idea, of setting an intention, is repeated in many of the accounts and seems to be important.

Also important seems to be the requirement to take the drugs in a very safe space, one that will not be intruded upon. This is also reflected in the writings from the 1960s where the nature of what was experienced was said to depend upon the set (the user’s intention) and the setting (the immediate environment). This is expanded in ‘Recovering My Childhood’ as well as other accounts.

The third common theme is that most of the reports of positive experiences occurred when there were just two people taking part. Some accounts refer to a small group. It seems relatively rare for positive experiences to occur in large groups, parties or raves.

Several of the accounts also refer to the need to discuss whatever arose during the drug session the next day, when sober. There is undoubtedly a distortion that occurs when under the influence of drugs and although the insights gained may be valid, it is often difficult, under the influence, to correctly assess their significance. As explained in Being Real on Drugs this is not unique to drug experiences, it occurs whenever people become significantly more open than normal – for example as a result of intense meditation or group processes. The key, as explained in both 'Falling in love again', and ‘Finding Each Other’, talking over the experiences the next day puts the insights and understandings in context and also made them more lasting.

Several of the contributors also mentioned the importance of having pure drugs and of controlling the dose so that there was an adequate level of intoxication – but not so much that those involved ‘lost the plot’.