While there are many different kinds of hallucinogenic drugs, the ones people tend to come across most frequently in high school are acid and psilocybin mushrooms, so those are the ones we’ll be talking about here.

Acid is the term for the chemical complex LSD and psilocybin is the brain-affecting chemical in mushrooms. They can raise your body temperature and increase your blood pressure and heart rate. More notable, though, are the mental effects, or the trip, that they cause. A typical mushroom dose is 1/16 of an ounce; a single dose of acid comes on a small square piece of blotter paper. Mushrooms and acid are both non-addictive and are not likely to cause brain damage in the long term, if you take them not much more than a well-spaced handful of times in your life. However, taking either of them is still a big decision, because tripping is an absolute emotional and psychological ROLLER COASTER, y’all, and the experience will definitely affect the way a person thinks and feels afterwards. If you’re thinking of trying psychedelics, you need to keep several things in mind.

It’s hard to say definitively what a person’s head will do on hallucinogens, because acid and mushrooms don’t follow any kind of set course. They’re really unpredictable and cause feelings that change, shift, and flow in rapid succession. They can make a person feel really, really far away from their normal selves. Users of acid and mushrooms also often experience auditory and visual hallucinations, the latter of which can make things appear to breathe or swell or change color, which can be scary. An average trip lasts about eight hours, though it can be more or less depending on the potency of the drug and the person taking it. It can also SEEM a lot longer if a trip is bad. But don’t freak out! It takes a while to ease back into sobriety, even in the next day or two, but you’ll get there. Just ask me about the time my 16-year-old self had to hold it together enough to explain to my boss that I was “sick” and couldn’t come in while quivering on a park bench after a sleepless acid night. Actually, don’t, because it was terrible.

As with all drugs, no one should ever buy acid from someone they don’t know. This will help prevent them from buying fake stuff, which at worst will be dangerous and at best will do absolutely nothing to them besides waste money and have them sitting there for hours going, “I think I feel something…”

Since mushrooms grow in the ground, they can expire. Expired shrooms may have visible mold on them and will carry bacteria that will make a person sick, similar to most foods when they go bad. To avoid chomping down on gross furry fungi, stay away from fresh mushrooms. Dried ones, which are more common, are a safer bet. They look like crunchy, shriveled-up versions of the mushrooms you see in cartoon forests. However, let it be known that even dried, non-moldy mushrooms taste like popcorn made out of poop, or poopcorn, if you will. Seriously—they are supremely unappetizing and hard to gag down. Some people put them on pizza or mix them into another food to dilute their nasty taste.

If acid or mushrooms take longer than expected to work, the person taking them should not be all, Welp, guess that wasn’t enough and I should take more, because that’s typically an enormous mistake. To wit: After once waiting two hours for acid to kick in, I added another tab to my dose. Right after I did so, the first wave kicked in, and I was like, SHIT, and I panicked because I knew I was in for a way more intense trip than I had intended, and it turned out to be the total worst. Not recommended, people. It’s way better to underdo it than overdo it, which is true with all drugs, including alcohol and right down to caffeine.

But even if a person takes a small amount of psychedelics, there is no way to guarantee a good experience. If you do psychedelics and start to feel bad, try to stay as calm as possible and tell someone how you’re feeling in a way that won’t scare that person if they’re tripping, too. For example, the freaker-outer should say something like “I’m starting to feel a little down; can you tell me something nice so that I feel better?” That serves two essential purposes: alleviating private oh-shit-oh-shit feelings by expressing them out loud, and having someone try to help you feel better. A tripping person SHOULD NOT say something like “I JUST FEEL LIKE EVERYTHING IS USELESS AND PEOPLE ARE BAD AT HEART AND POLITICIANS SECRETLY WANT TO KILL US—– AGHHAHDGH—–” because that might make someone else freak, and it won’t help the situation. (And don’t underestimate otherwise reasonable people’s ability to say such things—hallucinogens can make users really paranoid, which is another important thing to keep in mind.) The best thing to do is to just keep trying to distract yourself from bad feelings.

And, as with pot, take pains to remind yourself that the vast majority of the time drugs aren’t permanent and you will feel OK again. Even the worst trips calm down eventually, although sometimes that means that they last until the drug wears off. I should know, because I once barricaded myself in an SUV for hours and refused to unlock the doors because of how enormously terrified and paranoid I was. It was prettttyyyy much one of the most miserable experiences of my whole entire life, but you know what? It ended eventually! Keep reminding yourself of that if you bug out.

Acid and mushrooms, for those who choose to use them, should be once-in-a-blue-moon drugs. This is because after doing them even once, they can have effects on your personality. A person might feel freer and more connected to the world after tripping, or, conversely, feel more paranoid, loopy, and addled. But the thing is, you can’t pick which effect you experience, which is a scary thought.

I think you should wait as long as you can if you are considering taking acid or mushrooms (or really, any drug, as I am going to keep reminding you no matter how much you are rolling your eyes at me right now, DEAL WITH IT). This is because the stronger a handle a person has on themselves, which is something that comes with age, the less likely they are to freak out on psychedelics. I’m not saying that the younger people among us don’t understand themselves and their limitations, etc., but just that even if you, as a very young person, have a solid sense of yourself already, it’ll be more in check if you wait at least a few years. Accordingly, so will even the worst parts of tripping.