Sober sitter or coconsumer? Psychedelics, online forums and preferences for interpersonal interactions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Addiction Research and Theory


Taylor & Francis


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Thal, S. B., Engel, L. B., & Bright, S. J. (2022). Sober sitter or coconsumer? Psychedelics, online forums and preferences for interpersonal interactions. Addiction Research & Theory, 30(5), 382-390.


Contemporary clinical research into the psychotherapeutic administration of psychedelics has primarily emphasized the importance of therapeutic interpersonal interactions to assist clients prepare for and integrate the acute effects of psychedelics. Alternative therapeutic frameworks have encouraged active talk therapy between therapists and clients during the administration phase. We used data gathered from forums to investigate consumer preferences concerning interpersonal interactions during their psychedelic-occasioned experience. Google was used to locate relevant posts on the psychedelic forums The Shroomery and The DMT Nexus. We analyzed these posts using thematic analysis, in which two researchers independently categorized posts in accordance with emergent themes. These themes were then refined through iterative reflexivity. We then identified four themes pertaining to psychedelic consumer interpersonal interaction preferences: nonintrusive; boundary setting; help; and sober sitter or coconsumer. Further analysis revealed parallels between consumer preferences and clinical guidelines for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, including the emphasis of carer acceptance; minimal involvement; nondirection; hazard management and emotional stability. However, there was also disparity between consumer preferences and guidelines, specifically concerning desires for consumer agency; for psychedelic consumption alongside other consumers, and for carers who had consumed psychedelics themselves. These findings have clinical implications and thus may aid the development of future guidelines.



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