Harm Reduction Guidelines and Principles if You are Engaging with Substance Induced Expanded States of Consciousness (ESC)
We believe training to facilitate expanded states of consciousness in general is important and is absolutely necessary for ESC induced by plant and fungi medicine or compounds. In the future, as state and federal policy changes, we will be able to provide referrals for guides working with legal substances in a legal context who we feel will best represent the highest standards of cultivating a psychotherapeutic container for safely exploring ESC. The Center for Consciousness Medicine does not promote the use of any schedule 1 substance in an unlawful context. We acknowledge that use of such substances can present risk and can cause harm.
We acknowledge that the world is rapidly changing to support the uses of various substances, amid policy change in their scheduled status. We acknowledge that some of the focus of our teachings and philosophies are in adjacent approaches and that students look to us for guidance on how to engage in activity involving a scheduled substance safely. While we do not endorse or support the not legal use of substances, we do recognize that some people will use these substances. While students should assume their own risk we offer some guidance in the hopes of mitigating potential harm. We advocate for legal avenues for such guided experiences, but also recognize that some people seek out the experience outside of a legal context. When that is the case, CCM offers the following harm reduction principles in order to support the maintenance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual safety.
The person you choose to guide and support you should have some psychotherapeutic knowledge, understanding of your medical and psychological history and current status, understanding of safety and related ethics and have their own professional support system or supervision. We believe these are the foundational elements required to enable you to have the proper support system to reduce any potential harm. Along with these requirements, take these steps to better protect yourself:
From here forward we will refer to services involving the ingestion of a substance as “guiding”.
- Never be alone. Your judgment will be impaired, and you will be more vulnerable to others who encounter you. Having someone with you who has some training in supporting expanded states of consciousness is critical.
- Various substances have medical, psychiatric, and psychological contraindications and considerations. These should be carefully considered in general and specific to your circumstances.
- Consider your setting. Your judgement and perception will be impaired. Please be in a safe place and consider the time frame a particular substance might last.
- Consider your impact. Do not engage in mind altering work around children as it can be disturbing and harmful to them barring a few traditional contexts. Your judgment and capacity will be affected and so you should not engage in any activities that could bring harm to yourself or others, such as trying to operate any machinery, drive, or have access to any weapons.
- It’s always possible to do more, but never to do less. Start slow, go low in dose, and be aware of any reactions before considering a larger amount.
- Treat yourself with care. Hydrate, eat, and rest, and be mindful of your somatic experience.
- The right person to guide you is not necessarily the first person to offer such services. To protect yourself it is more important to find someone who is trained and fully resonates with you, rather than the first person who offers those services.
- If the guide doesn’t feel right and in alignment, do not move forward. Remember that peoples’ egos, cultural conditioning, biases, belief systems and judgements will inevitably influence your experience and have the potential to create harmful situations for your psychospiritual safety in these vulnerable states. You can never be entirely unaffected by your guide.
- The following types of questions should be asked to evaluate a potential guide:
- Where did you do your training?
- Are you trained in other professional capacities?
- How many years of experience do you have?
- What are the most important lessons you have learned from guiding?
- How do you create a safe container?
- What does your process look like for preparation and integration?
- What are your practices if I am having a difficult experience?
- Do you hold any biases or judgements of others? If so, what are they?
- Why do you do this work?
- I identify as _______. How do you identify? Have you worked with people who have my experience of life, and/or do you share my experience of life? (If this will impact you relative to the safety of shared identity, it’s critical to ask these questions).
- Have you ever had accusations of crossed boundaries, either physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or spiritual? Have you ever had to hold boundaries from these infringements of safety happening to you?
- Possession and use of various substances remains illegal in the US and in other jurisdictions around the world. Engaging in these activities can carry legal risk. The materials available on this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.