Zendo Project: Psychedelic Harm Reduction
This year, millions of people will use psychedelics outside of medical and research contexts. Using psychedelics can produce overwhelming and uncomfortable experiences, which becomes more likely with high doses, in first-time users, and when adequate preparation or setting are not available.
The Zendo Project provides a safe space and professionally trained staff to care for individuals at festivals, concerts, and other events where psychedelic substance use may be present. Zendo Project staff and volunteers also work closely with event security and medical response teams to provide comprehensive psychedelic first aid services.
We’re asking for $50,000 to expand the Zendo Project’s services at festivals around the world. Increasing numbers of event producers are recognizing the need for psychedelic harm reduction services at their events and asking for these services—we need your help to get there.
We’re asking for your help to expand the Zendo Project’s services. More event producers are recognizing the need for psychedelic harm reduction services at their events — we need your help to get there.
Donate to expand psychedelic harm reduction at festivals and events
By making a donation and sharing our campaign, you’re helping:
- Complete construction for our new Zendo structure
- Train volunteers and develop new resources for public trainings
- Expand our capacity to deliver psychedelic support services at festivals and events around the world
Every gift—no matter the size—helps us provide community-based compassionate care to people having a difficult psychedelic experience.
In the past three years, the Zendo Project has trained over 500 volunteers to provide psychedelic harm reduction at events.
Psychedelics—such as MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, and many others—are illegal in the United States and most other countries, except in approved scientific studies. The Zendo Project does not encourage or endorse illegal drug use, however we recognize that some people choose to use these substances.
Psychedelic harm reduction is an effective public health-based alternative to hospitalization and arrest. By assisting guests in changing their experiences into valuable opportunities for learning and growth, psychedelic harm reduction helps prevent and transform difficult experiences related to non-ordinary state of consciousness.
“The Zendo Project focuses specifically on psychedelics, with an emphasis not just on harm reduction but also on helping people change their experiences into learning opportunities.“
—Playboy, July 22, 2015
Many of the news reports found journalists struggling to accurately describe the drug, its effects and the impact it was having on their communities…The Zendo Project hopes to change this by offering education and counseling in high-risk settings.”
—Care2, July 21, 2015
“[T]he festival is making a greater effort this time around to let attendees know that these services are available. ‘What they’re doing is heroic,”[DPA’s Stefanie] Jones said. ‘They’re making every effort in a tough environment to keep their attendees safe.'”
—The Huffington Post, May 20, 2015
“The Zendo Project provides an incredible service to those experiencing a crisis. There is also great value to the festivals from a production standpoint, freeing up the resources of traditional medical and security teams and sending the message that safety is a priority to attendees.”
—Fest300, March 26, 2015
“It’s against the law to make concerts “drug-friendly,” so many concert organizers have gone with a zero tolerance policy…But some music festivals are trying a different approach to reduce the bad experiences for concert-goersdetermined to get high on illicit drugs. “
—National Institute on Drug Abuse, June 9, 2015
“Psychedelic experiences can seem dangerous, but police or doctors are not always necessary when there are compassionate, attentive, and well-trained community members available to help.”
—Tricycle, Spring 2014
“The Zendo Project is one of very few models in place offering compassionate, non-punitive alternatives to dealing with drug use at events.”
—Festival Insights, July 15, 2015
What is the Zendo Project?
The Zendo Project’s mission is to provide a supportive space for guests undergoing difficult psychedelic experiences or other psychological challenges, in order to:
- Transform difficult experiences into opportunities for learning and personal growth
- Reduce the number of psychiatric hospitalizations and arrests
- Create an environment for volunteers to work together to improve their harm reduction skills through training and feedback
- Demonstrate that safe, productive psychedelic experiences are possible without the need for law enforcement-based policies.
Compassionate care at festivals
Since 2012, the Zendo Project has assisted over 700 guests, most of whom were having challenging psychedelic experiences when they arrived. We have trained approximately 500 volunteers to provide psychedelic harm reduction services at events, totaling over 10,000 hours of volunteer time. While most guests arrive to the Zendo after having taken psychedelics, many also come to integrate previous psychedelic experiences, or to rest and reintegrate during an overwhelming festival experience.
Zendo Project staff and volunteers have provided compassionate care and psychedelic first aid services at:
- Burning Man (Nevada, USA)
- Boom Festival (Portugal)
- AfrikaBurn (South Africa)
- Bicycle Day (Calif., USA)
- Envision Festival (Costa Rica)
- Lightning in a Bottle (Calif., USA)
Donate now to expand the Zendo Project’s psychedelic harm reduction services.
Help build a model for a post-prohibition world.
The Four Principles of Psychedelic Harm Reduction
- Create a safe space
- Sitting, not guiding
- Talk through, not down
- Difficult is not the same as bad
Learn more about these principles in our 30-page Psychedelic Harm Reduction Manual. We’ll send you a printed edition as a Perk for your $75 gift, or as part of the Zendo Pack!
These principles are similar to those used by therapists in psychedelic psychotherapy research settings. MAPS and other organizations are currently conducting clinical trials to develop various forms of psychedelic therapy into FDA-approved prescription treatments, including MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for people suffering from chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Other ongoing research sponsored by MAPS includes MDMA- and LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening illness, MDMA-assisted therapy for social anxiety in autistic adults, ibogaine and ayahuasca treatment for drug addiction, as well as medical marijuana for people with PTSD.
Medical care at festivals
The Zendo Project works in partnership with security and medical personnel to ensure that individuals not requiring medical care receive timely psychological support. Sometimes, medical or legal interventions are unnecessary, costly, and sometimes even harmful for someone having a psychedelic experience.
“After providing medical services for over 200 large-scale events, I’ve learned that an effectively integrated harm reduction team is a vital component of ensuring safety for your guests and participants.”
—Richard Gottlieb, RGX Medical
“Together, we can create a model for a post-prohibition world, where psychedelic harm reduction is an integral part of festival health and safety infrastructure.”
—Linnae Ponté, Zendo Project Director
|“One of the most rewarding aspects of the Zendo Project is being part of a community of individuals dedicated to the care and well-being of others. We provide an environment where volunteers can really have a positive impact on the quality of life of another person.”
—Sara Gael, Zendo Project Coordinator
“It’s a gift to be able to offer a loving, compassionate presence to a person going through a difficult experience. This human-to-human support, where the impact is beneficial for everyone involved, is what generates growth and social change. That is the work I’m inspired to support through the Zendo Project.”
—Chelsea Rose, Zendo Project Coordinator
Zendo Project volunteers at AfrikaBurn in South Africa. Image: Mike Suss.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.
Since our founding in 1986, MAPS has disbursed over $20 million to psychedelic and medical marijuana research and education. Every dollar has come from visionary donors committed to our mission. For now, the continued expansion of psychedelic research and education relies on the generosity of individual donors.
Friends and Allies:
The Zendo Project focuses on community. Image: Daniel Zetterstrom.