The question of whether it is a good idea to drink ayahuasca or smoke DMT alone regularly arises in social media discussions, so it goes without saying that people are uncertain as to its safety.
There is no cut and dried answer to this, as it is largely dependent on whether you are mentally strong and sound, the quality of your setting, the safety of the substance itself, and whether or not you believe in certain metaphysical factors having the power to influence your physical world.
With this in mind, we will address some of those factors to help you make up your mind on drinking or smoking alone, versus with a trip sitter or shaman present:
Can you cope easily with life’s challenges?
There is a reason why ethical retreat centres and shamans will not allow people with serious mental disorders to consume ayahuasca. Bipolar disorder is a good example; altered brain chemistry can have a massive impact on day-to-day behaviours, and tendencies toward psychosis and unregulated behaviours is well documented.
It is easy to assume that psychoactive substances and entheogens will have a positive effect across the board, as statistically speaking, they seem to. However, there is always a chance that a person will be unable to handle the magnitude of their experience, especially when it is other-worldy in nature. Some people with bipolar disorder have claimed to be healed by ayahuasca and DMT, but then it could be argued that their diagnosis was inaccurate in the first place.
There are many instances of psychosis after use of the use of ayahuasca in those without a stable mental history, so it is really down to the shaman and yourself to decide; still, it is a responsibility that responsible shamans often won’t take.
What’s more, a person does not need to have a diagnosis of mental disorder for this to be the case. Those prone to depression and anxiety may find symptoms alleviated or eradicated, and then again, they may worsen. A person’s mental and physical constitution is complex and relatively unique, so judgment must be arbitrary. It helps to consider that everyday challenges may have nothing on DMT realm challenges, as there is little familiarity to those. Emotions can be dramatically amplified, and if you aren’t capable of handling life’s challenges well, you will probably struggle with what comes up in an altered state.
If you are someone who has a history of even moderate mental or emotional instability, it probably goes without saying that you should work with an experienced and responsible shaman if drinking ayahuasca. If smoking DMT, the same goes for an experienced and wise trip sitter; someone capable of handling any physical or mental issues that may unexpectedly arise.
From where did you acquire the DMT or ayahuasca?
Another question that often comes up online is whether or not to buy ayahuasca and DMT from strangers. These strangers could be as traceable as Peruvian exporters, or as anonymous as a stranger on the dark web. Either way, even with recommendations, you are (to some extent) taking a chance.
If you do not personally know the person that created a substance you plan to consume, you cannot guarantee what went into the substance or the process. Ayahuasca shamans will tell you that this process varies greatly, as do the substances put into the brews.
It could even be argued that the intention of the creator of entheogens is important, but that factor is for you to decide upon. You should probably be asking yourself whether you want to buy an entheogen from somebody who only cares about profit, but your desire to acquire the product might outweigh this. If you are going ahead, then personal recommendations would be a necessary starting point.
If you feel educated enough to make the ayahuasca or DMT yourself, you will at least know what went into it. However, you will then have other variables to consider. Did you do it correctly? Do you know how much of it you should use? Do you know the proper way to consume it, and whether digression from this will result in a vastly different experience?
Getting assistance from a known, responsible and experienced user would be a basic requirement here. Going into the experience feeling uncertain about what you’ll perceive is uncomfortable enough as it is without also being unsure of the efficacy of the substance itself.
Where are you planning to consume the DMT or ayahuasca?
As we covered in a previous article, set and setting are very important. They can have a strong impact on your overall experience. If you are planning to take ayahuasca at home alone, you may well be in familiar (and therefore safe) surroundings, but those surroundings can appear very different under the influence of a powerful psychoactive substance.
There are physical factors to consider. With ayahuasca, you are likely to go through some purging. Do you need to get upstairs to use a bathroom? Alone, that’s a bad idea. The last thing you want is to be falling on the stairs while not in the state to do much about it. Tripping over things and falling are a real possibility with ayahuasca in your system. It is wise to have someone present to guide you through the physical side at the very least.
With both ayahuasca and DMT, even if the physical side is covered, there is the possibility of mental confusion, panicking or emotional overwhelm. Although these are quite normal side effects and (as generally transient states) not harmful in themselves, being alone when going through them may only magnify the intensity.
You might also be inclined toward less rational behaviours or solutions at the time. There are many unknown quantities, which makes it a risk to drink or smoke alone. Those who are mentally strong and capable will probably just ride out any storms without drastic action, but if you’re unsure that’s you, have someone present.
With DMT smoking, you may quickly lose motor skills after inhaling as little as one hit of smoke. This can mean dropping a pipe of smouldering DMT on yourself, your clothes or your furnishings, none of which is a good idea when incapacitated. You probably won’t be able to move, and you may not even realise you’ve done it at all.
Whatever the substance, if using it alone, be sure to fully prepare your environment for safety and convenience, and be in the most sound mental state possible. If it is your first time using DMT or ayahuasca, going it alone is almost definitely not recommended. No matter how well people describe their experiences, it is probable that nothing will truly prepare you for the intensity of it.
Do you believe in non-biological entities?
Belief may or may not have an impact on objective reality, and that’s if there even is an objective reality at all. Whatever is true, it is widely postulated that belief does impact reality, although it is hard to prove that not believing in something makes it not true. Much anecdotal evidence lends itself to the idea of entities in the DMT realm being real rather than a figment of imagination, shared or otherwise.
It is impossible to say for sure that not believing this will mean your experience (during and after) is different to that of someone who does. If you see entities as things that reside solely in the mind, you are probably going to be more comfortable with enduring darker experiences with them alone.
If you do feel that entities are real (however intangible in the 3D realm), and that they can have an impact on your life even after the fact, smoking DMT or drinking ayahuasca alone has different implications. A shaman will tell you that he or she is there to protect you from interference from such entities, and that they are very real. They will also tell you that not all entities have good intentions, as is the case with humans. You may not understand what an entity has to gain from interfering in your life, but is it a chance you want to take? If not, don’t drink ayahuasca alone.
There aren’t many DMT ceremonies publicly happening, so you’re not likely to have a shaman present for that. Whether you have a trip sitter present probably won’t make any difference to your entity encounters, but at least if you are struggling there will be someone present to help you feel calmer, ground you back into this reality, and perhaps help you make sense of your experience.
At the end of the day, it is a personal choice, but caution should be exercised. Feel free to check out others’ ayahuasca experiences and DMT experiences for a frame of reference. Just remember that however many parallels can be drawn, every experience is unique and these tales are not going to be accurate preparation tool. What is useful, however, is knowing your own level of mental and emotional resilience, and what you are and are not prepared to risk.