Taking A Trip But Not Leaving Home

A psychedelic experience can be very gratifying, and indeed, profoundly life-changing. As the demand grows for having such an experience, new ways to go on that journey in a safe and complete manner outside of a clinical trial have emerged.

These are not the psychedelic retreats in places like The Netherlands and Jamaica and other vacation-destination places where psychedelic experience seekers spend three or more days and pay thousands for the journey they want to go on with psychedelics in what is essentially an exotic vacation with a twist for the well-heeled.

Now there are better, more convenient ways to take that profound journey at home. Anybody who wants to can now find a different sort of psychedelic experience, in a more cost-effective way than a retreat—safe and comfortable at home, monitored by a team of medical specialists, and directed before and after their experience via online consultations.

Call it a new take on set and setting, which is the hypothesis that the effects of psychedelic drugs are dependent first and foremost upon set (personality, preparation, expectation, and intention of the person having the experience) and setting (the physical, social, and cultural environment in which the experience takes place). 

Set and setting have become a more critical part of the psychedelic experience than when the concept was invented by psychedelics guru Timothy Leary in the 1960s. Current research suggests that these nonpharmacological effects are responsible for a major part, if not a majority, of therapeutic benefits in a variety of accepted drug treatments.

One company providing this new type of psychedelic experience is Las Vegas-based Better U, offering ketamine treatment, functional medicine, proprietary treatment protocols, and integration within the comfort of your own home, guided by a team of psychiatrists, therapists and psychedelic medicine experts.

The Better U team guides the experiencer through thinking about what they want to accomplish, with online information to get someone ready for the experience, and for what they should expect after the experience. 

The process is called a “mental health reset,” starting with a free assessment followed by an online visit with a doctor to setup a custom treatment program. 

The at-home ketamine treatment session begins after ketamine is delivered to the home that will be self-administered. The team then follows a treatment preparation process designed for that person based on what they said they want to accomplish and follows up with post-session integration. 

Better U offers two choices for the at-home psychedelic experience: The four treatment introduction for $149 per treatment; and the 8 treatment complete program for $129 per treatment.

Another company, Mindbloom headquartered in New York, follows a similar online model using ketamine with a slightly different treatment and followup structure. Pricing is $99 a month for 6 treatments for new clients, which includes psychiatric clinician consults, and 3 guide sessions; or $58 a month for returning clients that also includes 6 ketamine treatments and a psychiatric clinician consult.

If you really want to do it simpler—and a bit riskier because there is no one overseeing you—you can use the Trip app, a mobile app from Toronto-based Field Trip Psychedelics (NASDAQ: FTRP) available for both Android and iPhone devices. 

The app allows people from anywhere in the world to access tools that support self-exploration and consciousness expansion through meditation, breathwork, and more. 

A user starts a “trip” at the touch of a button and breaks the experience into four stages: Preparation, Exploration, Reflection, and Integration. It is designed to help the users start the working of emotional processing and integration of what they experience in their consciousness expansion efforts.

The app supports users with intention setting, mood tracking, guided journaling and integration, and personalized music that has been designed to help guide them through emotions associated with different intentions. 

Trip is designed to assist self-guided consciousness explorers to expand their minds, break from everyday thinking and develop a deeper connection to their emotions and psyche. 

The Trip app does not specify which psychedelic substance a user should be doing, nor does it encourage a user to be using a psychedelic while on the app. Instead it guides users through a set of structured questions to share and reflect on key insights or emotions that may have emerged during a trip, encourages the emotional processing to begin, and enables users to revisit their experiences and develop insights by aggregating data from recent trips.

On the surface, while these new at-home tools and techniques for getting more people access to psychedelics seem to be simply about convenience, they actually go much further into advancing psychedelics and mental health treatment. 

The concept of set and setting can be crucial not only for psychedelic research but also for advancing drug research and developing more effective drug policy. 

As noted in one study about set and setting, studying the ways nondrug factors shape the effects of drugs both inside the lab as well as outside it “can significantly contribute to our understanding of the ways drugs act in the real world and allow us to make strides by focusing not only on the science of psychopharmacology, but also on the art of using psychopharmacological agents, thereby optimizing their patterns of use.”

Dave Hodes

David Hodes is a business journalist based in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He has contributed feature articles to several cannabis and psychedelics publications, as well as general business/lifestyle publications, on a variety of topics. Hodes was selected as 2018 Journalist of the Year by Americans for Safe Access. He is a member of the National Press Club, and the deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.

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