Harm reduction 101: the Harm reduction guide

Despite its use in clinics, these substances are often used recreationally or in a party setting. If the substance is being used recreationally, various important factors can provide a better experience for the user.

Factors such as:

    • Testing the substance for adulterants
    • Set and setting
    • Having a Tripsitter


Testing the substance is crucial for a safe and controlled experience. This can be done by various reagents such as:


Marquis Reagent: Used for a wide variety of substances, usually considered to be the first step to identifying a compound.


Mecke Reagent: Used to confirm the presence of MDMA, Amphetamine/Methamphetamine, DMT, Cathinones (Methylone, MDPV), Scopolamine, Opiates (Morphine, Heroin, Fentanyl, Codeine), 2C-B, Sildenafil (Viagra) and Mescaline. Also used to exclude adulterants, like Dextromethorphan (DXM) or Lidocaine.


Mandelin Reagent: Ideal to test Cocaine, Ketamine, and PMA


Liebermann Reagent: used to confirm the presence of MDMA, Cocaine (and its main Adulterant Levamisole), Amphetamine, Ketamine, Opiates (Morphine, Heroin, Codeine), 2C-B, Mescaline, Methoxetamine, and more.


Froehde Reagent: used as a secondary test to confirm the presence of MDMA, Opiates (Morphine, Heroin), Ketamine, Amphetamines, Bath Salts, Cathinones (Mephedrone, Methylone, MDPV, Butylone), 2-CB in between many.


Simon’s test: Used to detect the presence of secondary amines. MDMA, Methamphetamine, and Paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) are secondary amines and will react with Simon’s test.


Morris Reagent: Used to identify ketamine distinguishing it from other anesthetics like Deschloroketamine and 2-Fluorodeschloroketamine).


Ehrlich’s Reagent and Hofmann Reagent: Both reagents are often used together for recreational microdosing and react to LSD, DMT (ayahuasca), psilocybin, and psilocin (active compounds in magic mushrooms), and 5-MeO-DMT).


Folin Reagent: Used for detecting a class of drugs called piperazines, such as N-benzylpiperazine (BZP) and Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP). Each kit is accompanied by a color chart that will be the identifier of your compound, for that reason having a few considerations in mind is important. Doing the test in a distraction-free and well-lit environment together with handling the chemicals carefully will be the preferable setting to perform.


Reagents needed for testing your substances. Source: Dosetest


These reagents are usually widely available and can be bought at  DanceSafe, DosetestEZtestkits,   Miraculix and SMPLEST. In addition, various companies in Europe and United states also provide these tests free of charge in events, in countries like Canada there are buildings like the Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project where anyone can test their drugs by lab equipment.

Users can also keep updated for potential harms from mail services such as KnowDrugs and Erowid’s anonymous drug testing program DrugData such websites are continuously updated with alerts from newly tested pills, their dosages, and potential adulterations.









Set and Setting



Refers the mindset, mental health and prescribed medication of a person taking a substance, therefore factors such as:

    • Current emotional state

    • Present life issues

    • Being prone to panic attacks and anxiety

    • Mental health conditions

    • Perception of safety and support

    • Physical state- Illness,  ingestion of food and water, etc.

Can influence someone’s experience.



Includes physical properties of the environment and people present in the space where the experience is part-taking, factors such as:

    • Indoor or outdoor

    • Sound: Music or silence

    • Lighting: Daytime, nighttime, artificial lights

    • Company: alone, friends, or public

    • Smells: Use of incense, candles, etc.

    • Temperature: Change in weather, warm and cold.

Can influence someone’s experience.




Using a tripsitter

Despite the idea of a group of people taking a substance together being thought as the climax of the psychedelic experience, it’s not ideal for the general safety in case of a bad experience.

When taking psychedelics difficult experiences can occur, for this reason, having a Tripsitter can be ideal. Tripsitters should know when to contact emergency services as well as provide information to emergency responders about the substances taken, be able to create a safe, calm, and compassionate space, away from noise and crowds. Avoid responses that may cause anxiety such as “we have to act fast”. Allow the person’s experience to be the guide, and adapt to situations while talking through what they’re witnessing instead of talking them down from their experience.

Responses such as: “There is nothing there” or “You’re not really feeling that” may increase the confusion of who’s having the visual experience. Instead, an inviting approach to explore and connect to their feelings should be made together with encouraging them to approach their feelings with curiosity and openness. In some cases reminding the person that the experience is temporary in case of distress is also necessary.


Having a plan

Despite one’s history of psychedelic use and whether the substance will be taken in a therapy setting or recreationally having an emergency plan is heavily advised.

Inquiring yourself whether you have an emergency plan, your therapist, or your Tripsitter is a must.

If the substance is being taken at a festival, questions such as:

What resources are being provided in the facility?

Does the facility have CPR/ AED equipment, and first aid kits and does the staff have the training to use such tools?

Where is the nearest hospital and how to get there? Is there someone of trust to take me there? (Staff, a friend, etc)

Who is my emergency contact?

Should be made in order to have a mapped emergency plan.

Having all the points previously mentioned considered, one should be able to benefit from a safer psychedelic experience.


Stay safe!

Learn more about microdosing at:

Learn more about microdosing at:

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