This article is inspired by our insightful podcast episode hosted by Psychedelic Passage co-founder, Jimmy Nguyen, which you can listen to on all streaming platforms.
Join us as we explore the nuances of psychedelic dosage escalation, safety considerations, and the art of finding the optimal balance for a meaningful journey.
In a culture lacking established support systems for psychedelic exploration and driven by a preference for peak experiences, Jimmy discusses the challenges of determining the right dosage, especially for those new to psychedelics.
We explore anecdotes on the contextual nature of dosage requirements, challenge the notion that a ‘full experience’ correlates with higher doses, and offer practical tips on narrowing dosage range, redosing, dissociative states, habit formation, and tolerance.
Keep reading to gain valuable insights into dosage considerations for psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, and ketamine. Discover why more is not always better and learn how to approach dosage decisions with mindfulness and intention.
- Social Conditioning and Desire for More: The podcast challenges societal conditioning that associates “more” with “better,” exploring how societal expectations drive the desire to escalate psychedelic dosages, particularly in the pursuit of peak experiences.
- Contextual Dosage Considerations: Going beyond the traditional “set and setting” framework, Nguyen introduces the concept of “container work,” emphasizing the intricate connection between dosage and individual circumstances.
- Ethical Dosage Decision-Making involves a delicate balance between individual autonomy and facilitator guidance. Open conversations before the psychedelic experience, an awareness of power dynamics, and a conservative approach to dosing are essential for a holistic and responsible psychedelic journey.
- Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.
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The Modern Psychedelic Landscape
Nguyen sets the stage by reflecting on the evolving dynamics of engaging with psychedelics in the contemporary United States. He notes the absence of ingrained cultural pathways for support in psychedelic use, a stark contrast to the past.
The practice of seeking a support individual, guide, or trip sitter has a rich history but emerges as a relatively new phenomenon in the modern era, especially for those initiating their psychedelic journeys.
Social Conditioning and the Desire for More
The podcast unveils the societal influences shaping the mindset around psychedelic use. Nguyen acknowledges the societal inclination towards the belief that “more is better” – a paradigm that extends beyond psychedelics.
He points out the societal conditioning that encourages individuals to seek peak experiences and significant highs, fostering a natural tendency to consider escalating psychedelic dosages.
Challenging the Paradigm
Nguyen challenges the prevailing societal paradigm that associates increased dosage with enhanced experiences. He introduces a nuanced perspective, urging listeners to consider the societal conditioning and social expectations that drive the desire for escalation.
Contextual Nature of Dosage
Nguyen opens the discussion by highlighting the importance of context in determining the appropriate dosage for a psychedelic experience. He moves beyond the conventional understanding of “set and setting,” introducing the concept of “container work.”
Nguyen asserts that the dosage is intricately tied to an individual’s life circumstances, stress resilience, and personal preparation practices. This contextual approach challenges the notion that a standardized set and setting framework is sufficient for determining dosage.
Psilocybin and Serotonergic Substances
Nguyen notes that individual differences carry across substances, between psilocybin and other serotonergic medications and substances, as well as dissociatives like ketamine.
Nguyen shares personal observations, noting that individuals can achieve profound altered states and work towards intentions with minimal doses, such as two grams of psilocybin, while higher doses may result in null effects.
Unraveling the Complexity
Expressing a hunch that the current understanding of psilocybin and its effects may be incomplete, Nguyen touches upon existing quantitative tests for psilocybin content in mushrooms such as the Q-test.
However, he acknowledges that these tests might not capture the full picture, hinting at potential factors like alkaloid profiles and other constituents that could modulate the psychedelic experience.
The complexity of individual responses to psychedelics prompts Nguyen to suggest a need for further research to comprehensively identify the various factors influencing the psychedelic journey.
Minimum Viable Dosage and Targeting Dosing
Nguyen introduces the concept of the “minimum viable dosage” – the threshold at which an individual can enter an altered state of consciousness and engage meaningfully with the psychedelic.
He emphasizes the importance of targeting the dosage to achieve a potent yet present experience. This approach, he suggests, involves thoughtful consideration and is becoming more standard practice, particularly with substances like psilocybin.
Challenges of High Psilocybin Doses
Nguyen argues that an increase in psilocybin dosage can lead to more active and expressive experiences, often posing challenges for both the individual and even the most adept facilitators.
The mental and spiritual gymnastics involved in psychedelic experiences, coupled with the exhausting nature of the journey, are highlighted as potential drawbacks.
The Exhaustion of Higher Dosages
Nguyen underscores the physical toll of engaging with higher doses, drawing parallels between psychedelic experiences and running a 10K.
The taxing nature of these experiences can leave individuals feeling drained and exhausted, questioning the value of pursuing such intense dosages.
States of Dissociation and Recall Challenges
A crucial aspect Nguyen brings to the forefront is the correlation between higher dosages and increased states of dissociation. This dissociation, while intensifying the experience, can impede the individual’s ability to recall events and emotions during and after the journey.
The difficulty in documenting or encapsulating profound moments during the experience poses challenges for later integration and processing.
The Impact on Integration
The ability to recall and remember the content of the psychedelic experience is paramount for effective integration. Nguyen shares personal anecdotes, highlighting instances where higher dosages made the process of recall and reflection significantly challenging.
“I personally have been in my own experiences where I knew that it felt so profound, so valuable. In the moment I thought, ‘ I really have to encapsulate this and take it with me’ but it’s really hard to document things while you’re going through a psychedelic experience. And in the afterglow I lost it.”
This raises questions about the long-term impact of pursuing doses that may compromise the integration process.
Beyond Psilocybin: LSD, MDMA, and Ketamine
LSD: The Enduring Odyssey
Nguyen begins by unraveling the intricacies of LSD dosing, emphasizing the minute measurements involved in micrograms. With standard dosages circling around 100 to 125 micrograms, LSD unfolds as a long-lasting experience spanning eight to 10 hours.
“Most of the time I don’t see individuals like redosing with LSD exactly for that reason, meaning you’re going to be approaching 12, 14, 16, 18 hours, and that’s just a marathon for anybody.”
The host discusses the mental resilience required for such enduring journeys and explores the challenges of redosing with LSD, citing difficulties in quantifying dosage accurately.
MDMA: A Delicate Balance
Shifting focus to MDMA, Nguyen highlights the unique considerations surrounding this empathogenic substance. Addressing the narrow dosage range and the potential physical and mental toll it takes on the body, he challenges the notion of frequent redosing.
“There can be a certain threshold to avoid potential temporary physical side effects. Usually this is in the case of jitters or tremors in the body, jaw clenching, which can have a lot of pressure on your head and your jaw, that’s often called bruxism or eye jiggle, which is where your eye is having this kind of frequent vibration.”
Nguyen delves into the therapeutic context of MDMA, urging caution due to its impact on serotonin levels and the risk of adverse physical side effects. The delicate balance between the desire for more euphoria and the need for self-care becomes a central theme.
Ketamine: Bridging Altered States
The exploration extends to ketamine, a substance often viewed as a bridge to altered states of consciousness. Nguyen details the clinical settings where ketamine is commonly administered and discusses the habit-forming potential of this dissociative psychedelic.
Cautioning listeners about the higher tolerance that may develop with repeated ketamine use, he highlights the therapeutic potential of ketamine while encouraging mindfulness, especially for individuals with a history of substance use issues.
Interweaving Psychedelic Experiences
Nguyen touches upon the intriguing phenomenon of individuals interweaving ketamine experiences with other psychedelics like psilocybin. He explores the frequency of ketamine use and its role in conjunction with other psychedelic ceremonies.
He also emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and transparency about addictive tendencies, providing a comprehensive perspective for those navigating the realms of ketamine and other psychedelics.
Ethical Considerations in Dosage Decision-Making: Balancing Autonomy and Facilitator Guidance
The Challenge of Consent in Altered States
Nguyen introduces a crucial ethical aspect—the challenge of giving clean and sober consent once a psychedelic substance is consumed.
He emphasizes the need for a delicate balancing act, wherein individuals retain autonomy while also acknowledging the altered state’s potential impact on decision-making.
The episode delves into the nuances of trusting intuition and knowing when to seek more medicine or remain in the present state.
A central theme emerges around having open conversations before the psychedelic experience. Nguyen encourages journeyers to establish a framework that includes the possibility of booster doses at specific increments.
“Oftentimes there’s an intuitive process where I think individuals can sense a range of dosage for them, and then having those conversations openly with your facilitator with all of your context and history available in the conversation to talk about, is a really good approach as far as trying to nail down a dosage.”
This preemptive approach aims to provide peace of mind for the journeyer and ensures clarity about the facilitator’s role in extended durations.
Power Dynamics and Facilitator Guidance
The episode explores power dynamics in the psychedelic space, where some journeyers entrust facilitators entirely with dosage decisions.
While acknowledging the importance of consulting professionals, Nguyen advocates for active participation from the journeyer in determining the right dosage.
The philosophy of holistic psychedelic work emphasizes the relationship between the individual and the substance, prompting the need for open communication and input. Nguyen shares his own holistic approach to dosage decisions, suggesting a more conservative stance initially.
“I would much rather spend more time with a client and make sure that we’re incrementing, titrating up to the right dosage, then have the risk of overshooting that dosage, which may create a challenging, difficult, hard to navigate dynamic for a client.”
Facilitators are urged to spend time incrementing and titrating up to the right dosage, prioritizing the journeyer’s well-being. This approach aims to prevent overshooting dosages, which could lead to challenging dynamics or alter the experience unfavorably.
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I believe he was the primary reason, along with the medicine of course, that enabled me to deal with issues that were the cause of my depression and PTSD. I feel genuinely renewed and happier as a result of my experience. Mahalo maikaʻi aloha.”
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the significance of seeking support individuals, guides, or trip sitters in the modern psychedelic landscape?
The practice of seeking support individuals (i.e. trip sitters, guides & facilitators) has a rich history but has become a relatively new phenomenon in the contemporary United States.
In the absence of ingrained cultural pathways, individuals often turn to guides or trip sitters for assistance, especially when initiating their psychedelic journeys.
2. How does societal conditioning influence the mindset around psychedelic use, particularly concerning dosage?
Societal conditioning tends to foster the belief that “more is better” not only in general but also in the context of psychedelic experiences.
There is a societal inclination to seek peak experiences and significant highs, which contributes to the natural tendency of considering escalating psychedelic dosages.
3. What is the concept of “container work,” and how does it challenge the traditional understanding of “set and setting” in determining dosage?
Container work emphasizes the importance of context in determining the appropriate dosage for a psychedelic experience.
It goes beyond the conventional “set and setting” framework, taking into account an individual’s life circumstances, stress resilience, and personal preparation practices. This challenges the notion that a standardized set and setting framework is sufficient for determining dosage.
4. What is the “minimum viable dosage,” and why is targeting dosing considered important in the psychedelic landscape?
The “minimum viable dosage” refers to the threshold at which an individual can enter an altered state of consciousness and engage meaningfully with the psychedelic.
Targeting dosing involves thoughtful consideration to achieve a potent yet present experience. This approach is becoming more standard practice, particularly with substances like psilocybin.
5. How does the podcast address ethical considerations in dosage decision-making, balancing autonomy and facilitator guidance?
The podcast emphasizes the challenge of giving clean and sober consent once a psychedelic substance is consumed.
It advocates for a delicate balancing act where individuals retain autonomy while acknowledging the potential impact of the altered state on decision-making.
Open conversations before the psychedelic experience, along with an awareness of power dynamics, are considered essential for a holistic and responsible psychedelic journey.