Psychedelic Harm Reduction 2013

This article was written by Linnae Ponté and appeared in the MAPS Bulletin Summer 2013 Vol. 23, No. 2 Research Edition

This year, millions of people will use psychedelics outside of supervised medical contexts. It is not uncommon for psychedelic users to have dicult psychedelic experiences, such as due to taking too much or being in a challenging environment or emotional state. As part of our broader mission to educate the public honestly about the risks and benefits of psychedelic drugs, and to minimize the harms associated with their non-medical use, we started the Zendo Project.

What is the Zendo Project?

The Zendo Project is an onsite harm reduction service providing tranquil space and compassionate care for individuals having dicult psychedelic experiences, providing tranquil space and compassionate care. Our mission is to:

  • Provide a supportive space for individuals undergoing dicult psychedelic experiences or other psychological challenges
  • Help turn those experiences into opportunities for learning and personal growth,
  • Reduce the number of unnecessary drug-related psychiatric hospitalizations
  • Create an environment where volunteers can work alongside one another to improve their harm reduction skills and receive training and feedback
  • Demonstrate that safe, productive psychedelic experiences are possible without the need for law enforcement-based policies

Zendo Project Indiegogo Campaign Raises $17,786 for Psychedelic Harm Reduction

This summer, we asked for your help in raising funds to support the Zendo Project at festivals and events around the world. Our passionate community of supporters took us beyond our original goal of $10,000 in just 11 days, and the excitement didn’t stop there. In 30 days, 245 funders from nine countries donated a total of $17,786 to support our psychedelic harm reduction services.

These funds will go directly to transportation costs for the structure, equipment, and volunteers, as well as materials to make the space even more comfortable and inviting. Reaching our goal means that Zendo Project volunteers will have the resources they need to address the growing need for these services. Our supporters took us far beyond our original goal, helping us reach not one, not two, but our first three Stretch Goals. Our community made sure that our volunteers will be well-equipped, with:

  • A network of two-way radios for Zendo volunteers
  • CPR and First Aid Training for Zendo volunteers
  • A solar-powered cooling system for the Zendo structure

Our Indiegogo campaign is over, but you can still make a contribution any time at

What is Psychedelic Harm Reduction?

The Four Basic Principles of Psychedelic Harm Reduction

  1. Create a safe space
  2. Sitting, not guiding
  3. Talk through, not down
  4. Difficult is not the same as bad

A difficult psychedelic experience is not necessarily a bad one. With proper preparation and understanding, it is possible to help someone having a difficult experience so they can receive the most benefit from it.

The Zendo Project is sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).The Zendo structure is built entirely from recycled materials and was donated by Vanja Palmers as a gift to celebrate MAPS’ 20th anniversary in 2006.