Episode 39: Harm Reduction and Creating a Safe Container with Erica

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Erica Siegal, LCSW
NEST CEO & Founder of Nest Harm Reduction. She is a professional harm reductionist, community organizer, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy researcher.

We discussed a very important topic in this space, which is harm reduction — creating a safe container, understanding trauma, and more.

We discussed:

  1. Tell us a little about who you are, what you do, and what led you to this chapter in your life.
    1. Past psychedelic experiences
    2. Zendo/MAPS
  2. When we say ‘harm’, what does that mean?
    1. Is there a difference between a harmful experience and a difficult one (bad trip)?
    2. Harm reduction — does that happen before, during AND after the experience?
      1. Dosing
      2. Safe space
      3. Societal harm, interpersonal harm
      4. Yes: from intention to integration
      5. Diet
      6. Stay away from the news and TV; digital detox
  3. What are the biggest risks for somebody exploring with psychedelics in a non-medical situation?
    1. Not safe access; don’t know what you’re getting
    2. Ask your source key questions
    3. Create a safe container; trip sitter; never use them alone
    4. Over-use; non-addictive but can be over-used
  4. A lot of people seek help with things like depression, addiction, suicidality, anxiety…with the aid of psychedelics. Much of this seems rooted in trauma. Is that right? [talk trauma]
    1. Everyone has trauma history
    2. Fight or flight dysregulates the body; a lot of that creates a dysregulated existence
    3. Mindfulness; diet; self-care; psychedelic use – all help build against dysregulation from traumas
    4. Social media and 24-hr news cycle presents little traumas
  5. What catches people by surprise?
    1. Sage integrative health; donation-based psychedelic therapy
    2. Access is key
    3. Santo Daime
    4. Consent
    5. Sanctuary
    6. Plans among friends
  6. What recommendations do you have for a good, safe experience?
  7. For somebody who is not in a therapeutic setting, how can they minimize the risk of harm?
    1. Have an AED on-site; robust first-aid kit; safety plan
    2. CPR Certified
    3. Carry Narcan for opiate overdose; tainted Ketamine
  8. Tell us a little about your business. How do you help people?
  9. What else?