Leaf Nation Logo

Self-Care Spotlight: The Fireside Project

Fireside is the first-ever support line for people navigating current or past psychedelic experiences.

Adobe Stock

The Fireside Project believes no psychedelic explorer should have to travel alone.

The United States is currently in the midst of another psychedelic revolution. Already this past year, cities across six states have worked to decriminalize mushrooms. Ketamine is currently being studied as a treatment to combat depression at Yale. 2020 saw Oregonians legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes, and in 2019 city council members in Oakland voted to decriminalize ayahuasca. Alongside all of this, the internet is filled with articles discussing the benefits of microdosing – all sitting next to photos displaying trippy confections and brightly-colored capsules.

With such an ease of attitude and access surrounding psychedelics, the question increasingly becomes: What happens after the dose? When I started taking hallucinogens, we usually had a designated partner or guide – someone more experienced who could offer a reminder that you were on a drug and that everything was coming from your mind, and would sit with you afterward and talk about what had just happened. But with the new wave of psychedelic revolution comes a new age solution to this notion – The Fireside Project – where if you’re having a bad or powerfully introspective trip and need someone like that to speak with, they’re here to help.

Based in San Francisco, Fireside is the first-ever support line for people navigating current or past psychedelic experiences. Through compassion and education, their organization aims to destigmatize psychedelic experiences and ensure that those under the influence of entheogens have access to private, judgment-free dialogue. 

Founders Joshua White and Hanifa Washington created Fireside in 2021 with the shared belief that “no one in the world should have to feel alone with a psychedelic experience.” At the time, both White (a former Deputy City Attorney with the San Francisco City Attorney’s office) and Washington (a community activist and reiki healer) noticed that as cities and states decriminalized psychedelics, there was little in the way of education or support. They recognized the potential implications of this explosion of people trying psychedelics for the first time while simultaneously “… in the midst of a mental health crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.” While psychedelic substances can offer radical forms of healing and stimulation, they can also carry heavy consequences – especially for those unfamiliar with them.

Fireside’s volunteer staff creates an environment of risk reduction where individuals can feel safe talking about how a trip is affecting them. These volunteers undergo rigorous training in the basics of psychedelic chemistry, active listening, providing support by text message, and how to properly talk with someone before and after their experience. Washington says this training is crucial to their harm-reduction strategy, as it “helps people understand what’s happening with someone when they’re in a psychedelic state.”

Since launching in April of last year, the hotline has provided compassionate support to over 1,000 people working through ongoing, recent or past experiences. Volunteers can be reached from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week, via calls, texts or the Fireside app (available in the Android and Apple app stores), and all communications are anonymous. BIPOC, transgender, and veteran callers even have the option to process with someone who shares that aspect of their identity.

Fireside Project does not offer medical assessments, recommendations or psychotherapy; they do, however, offer a safe space to ask the underlying questions that frequently spring up around these adventures of the mind – as well as hope for those in need of guidance during one of the most vulnerable or frightening moments of their life.  

Web: firesideproject.org

Social: @firesideproject 

Call or Text: 62-FIRESIDE (623-473-7433)

This article was originally published in the August 2022 issue of California Leaf.

View our archive on issuu.

Are you 21 or older? This website requires you to be 21 years of age or older. Please verify your age to view the content, or click "Exit" to leave.