View of inside a nightclub.

The prospect of clubs & festivals re-opening is an exciting thought, but for some it might be a bit more complicated. After over year of being told to keep your distance, being a hot, sticky club could seem quite overwhelming.

It’s important to acknowledge how you’re feeling. It’s okay to feel anxious or overwhelmed. These emotions are a completely normal response to the unpredictable year we have all had.

When clubs & festivals return, anxiety may be increased due to many factors – being in a loud and packed environment, losing friends in the crowd or having consumed alcohol or other drugs. Situations that felt quite normal 18 months ago might now feel quite alien, and the emotional mind may take over. It’s really important to look out for ourselves and our friends, but if things become too much there are things you can do to help.

Calming Exercises

When in distress, often the first thing we feel is a change in our breathing, this technique works to regulate this.

Using your senses

Using your senses (otherwise known as the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Technique) is another tool to keep you calm in a stressful situation.

To do this technique look around the room and try and pick out:

When encouraging a friend to do this make them describe each of these to you to help them fully engage in the technique. 

Be supportive

If you are with a friend who is displaying signs of emotional distress or panic stay calm and try and help them with some of these techniques:

It is also important to look after yourselves and others following these events: check in on friends, eat well and get plenty of rest. If you are worried about your mental health then talk to someone you trust or contact a support service, such as Samaritans, the Crisis Service or this NHS information page.

This blog was written by our volunteer, Becky Saunders.

The 19th of April is Bicycle Day which celebrates the day that Albert Hoffmann, a Swiss chemist, experienced the first full psychedelic experience on LSD. It gets its namesake from the transformative bike ride he made back to his house as he succumbed to the trip. This Bicycle Day, we will talk about the central pillars of psychedelic harm reduction – ‘set’ and ‘setting’.

Image of blotter art depicting Albert Hoffman riding a bicycle

So what is ‘set’ and ‘setting’?

‘Set’ is shorthand for your mindset. You can think of this as your mental state before your trip and in the days preceding. Your mindset is affected by all sorts of different factors from work stress and relationship dramas through to impending deadlines and your expectation of what the trip will be like.

‘Setting’ is the environment that you plan to trip in. This includes the room or space you plan to be in, the people you’re with, the music you have on and even the time of day/night.

Why are set and setting important?

People find that set and setting have a profound impact on the psychedelic experience. The more supportive the set and setting, the more likely the experience will be positive. In opposition, a less than ideal set and setting will increase the likelihood of a negative or challenging experience.

Whilst being mindful of set and setting doesn’t guarantee a ‘good trip’, it’s a effective way of nudging the experience of taking psychedelic drugs in a positive direction.

How do I make sure my set and setting are ‘good’?

Your ideal set and setting will be unique to you, but there are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide whether to trip:

· Check in with yourself – Are you in a good headspace at the moment? Have you finished any pressing tasks you need to do? Are you feeling positive about tripping, or are you feeling really anxious about it? Save your trip for another day if your head isn’t in the right place.

· Think about who you’ll be with – Are you planning to be with people you trust and feel comfortable with? Are your housemates/mum/landlord likely to burst in mid-trip? Are you going to have a trip sitter? Having trusted people around will make the experience more enjoyable and will mean bad experiences will be managed more safely.

· Think about which location will make you feel safe – Do you feel more safe/comfortable in your house, out in nature, at a friend’s place, or elsewhere? It’s down to your preference, but make sure you’ll be safe, not somewhere so remote that getting help would be tricky.

· Plan activities/distractions – Have you thought about what music you’ll want to listen to? Does drawing/painting etc. relax you and have you got the stuff you need to do that? Do you have a favourite cosy jumper/blanket/something else that you find calming? Planning distractions means if things start going in a negative direction you’ve got stuff on hand to try and turn the trip around.

What else should I do to stay as safe as possible when I trip?

Set and setting aren’t the only things to think about before you trip so here are some extra tips:

· Read up on the drug you plan to use – find out how long the trip will last, what size dose to take, what the expected effects will be, and what other substances to avoid whilst on it.

· Check in with your mates about how they’re feeling – people react differently to psychedelics. Let each other know how you usually respond and what things to look out for that could be a sign you are having a bad time.

· Plan what to do if something goes wrong – If you’ve got a trip sitter, let them know what you want to happen if you start having a negative experience. If you don’t, make a plan about what you will do – this could include phoning a trusted friend, having a change of scenery or even something as small as putting on some different music. If you have a bad trip, remind yourself that you’ve taken drugs and that they will wear off.

View of inside a nightclub.

The core aim of The Drop is to reduce drug-related harm in Bristol’s night time economy – but how should we achieve that? The UK’s drugs laws and strategy are geared towards preventing the use of drugs and getting those who become addicted to drugs (including alcohol) into treatment but many people don’t want to stop using drugs and won’t ever become addicted. These people still need advice and support to prevent other harms such as overdose and negative impacts on mental health. This is where ‘harm reduction’ comes in.

Harm reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim to minimise negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, drug policies and drug laws. Harm reduction is grounded in justice and human rights – it focuses on positive change and on working with people without judgement, coercion, discrimination, or requiring that they stop using drugs as a precondition of support.
 Harm Reduction International

Harm reduction accepts that humans have chosen to use mind altering substances, either ritualistically or recreationally, for millennia and that attempts to ban such behaviours have not stopped people from partaking. In many ways, banning substances has only led to them being pushed underground and made all the more harmful.

The principles of harm reduction allow us to engage with the realities of people’s drug use and provide the necessary advice and support they want, rather than what we think they need. A commitment to evidence-based practice is another key feature of harm reduction, meaning that the advice we give is supported by science, rather than being guided by moralism and the idea that ‘all drug use is bad’. Most importantly, harm reduction equips people who use drugs with the information they need to make informed decisions about their own use.

Some examples of harm reduction interventions that The Drop provide are confidential advice and support around safer drug use at events (eg. advice on which drugs are dangerous to take together, and safer routes of administration), drug awareness training for club and festival staff so they know how to manage drug use at their events and one to one support for anyone who would like to know more about drugs or gain some control over their use.

Please contact us at, on our socials (@thedrop_bdp) or by phone on 0117 987 6000 for advice and support, or just to find out a bit more about the service.

To find out more about club drugs and how you can reduce the harm they cause, browse The Drop section of our website.