How to Prepare for a Psychedelic Dose


Microdosing has become more popular in the media in the last several years and more and more people are choosing to microdose hallucinogenic substances such as mushrooms containing psilocybin. 

While it’s important to talk about the process of microdosing and how to do it safely it’s also important to talk about how to prepare for a psychedelic dose if only to help people to understand the difference and be prepared for the rare case they do too large of a dose when intending to microdose. 

What is microdosing?

Microdosing is the act of consuming an unnoticeable amount of a psychedelic substance. Unnoticeable meaning the dose doesn’t create the hallucinogenic effects associated with psychedelics. This, of course, does not mean there are no benefits.

What’s the difference between a microdose and a psychedelic dose?

A psychedelic dose is also often called a macro dose or a recreational dose. A microdose is often approximately one-tenth of a psychedelic dose. A psychedelic dose is often used for recreational purposes and to experience the euphoric feelings and hallucination experiences associated with psychedelics. But that’s not always the case, psychedelic doses are also often used for healing, emotional, and mental wellness purposes. 

How to Prepare for a Psychedelic Dose

It’s important to note that the effects of psilocybin last between four to seven hours with after effects potentially impacting a person for a few more hours. So, it’s important to adequately prepare for a psychedelic dose to get the most out of the experience and decrease the likelihood of a ‘bad trip’.

Consider Your Headspace

Although psilocybin can help people to manage their mental health it can also make people feel overwhelmed, anxious, or distressed in the short term. Ideally, a person should go into a session with their intentions set and be in a good or neutral mindset. If a person is overly anxious or worried about the experience this could impact their session. Note that some anxiety or nervousness, particularly prior to a person’s first experience with psychedelics, is normal. 

Here are some questions to consider asking yourself to help you set your intentions for the experience:

  • What are your preconceptions about psychedelic experiences?
  • What do you expect to occur during the trip?
  • What do you hope to learn? Experience? Understand? Resolve?
  • What are your goals? Do you have spiritual goals? Psychological goals? Social goals?

Set and Setting 

Set and setting refer to ensuring that you feel safe (mindset) and are in a comfortable setting. This should include being intentional about who you are with and the environment you’re in.

This could also include putting a plan in place so you’re not disturbed by external stimuli during the experience. The external stimuli are often other people, like roommates or someone knocking on the door and preparing to manage these scenarios helps to avoid a disruption in the experience. 

Another setting that you could consider is to be in nature. Many people choose this setting because they find it healing and nurturing and often describe it as a more extroverted experience. When choosing nature as your setting it’s important to keep safety in mind, the environment should be familiar and comfortable and there is a comfortable place to lie down.

Set and setting can also include preparing the things you may need during the experience so you don’t have to worry about them. For example, wearing comfortable clothing, having water accessible, pillows or blankets that make you feel cozy, a good playlist, etc. 

Have a Buddy

Having a buddy can be particularly helpful if it is your first experience with mushrooms. Ideally, your buddy is someone you’re comfortable with and feel safe with and who has past experience with the substance themselves. They can then walk you through the experience if you’re nervous and support you throughout the process. If you’re particularly nervous about the first experience it can be helpful if your buddy is sober so you feel confident they can support you if anything goes wrong. This person is often called a trip sitter. 

Enjoy the Journey

Know that the experience may become challenging or weird at times but remember that you’re along for the ride so don’t fight the experience but lead yourself through it. Also, remember that it’s temporary and will end so make the most of the experience. 

What to expect from the session

According to the Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, there are six stages to a psychedelic session:

  • Ingesting the Psychedelic
  • Initial Onset
  • Opening and Letting Go
  • Plateau
  • The Gentle Glide
  • The End of the Formal Session

What to do if you have a bad experience

Despite our best intentions sometimes people have a more challenging experience when taking a psychedelic dose of mushrooms. Some people may find themselves feeling overwhelmed, anxious or fearful during their trip. So, here are some strategies for managing a bad experience:

  • Change your setting. When having a negative experience during a session it can be helpful to change the setting as it is easy to get fixated on a particular feeling or experience. If you’re inside it may be helpful to go for a short walk or lay down in the backyard. If you’re not feeling up to going outside consider moving to another room, changing the music, or grabbing something that is physically stimulating like a soft blanket or toy.
  • Remind yourself it isn’t real. Psychedelics can lead us to experiencing a distorted reality and while often that can be a good experience, at times, it can be overwhelming. If you’re feeling negative about the things you’re experiencing, take a deep breath and remind yourself they aren’t real. Also, remember that time is distorted during a session and even though it feels like it’s going to last forever it isn’t. 
  • Connect with the people you’re with. Generally, it’s a good idea to idea to have a session with other people, so if you are having a bad experience tell one of the people you are with. It will make you feel less alone and just having someone sit with you intentionally can make a difference. 
  • Take care of your physical needs. It’s important to pay attention to our physical needs during a session and a bad experience could be a result of being dehydrated or having low blood sugar. Make sure to drink water and if you haven’t eaten in many hours it may be helpful to try to eat. Though it’s important to note that eating, particularly the act of chewing, maybe challenging while in a session, so foods that you can swallow without chewing may be the best idea (like ice cream). 
  • Don’t self medicate. When having a bad experience during a session some people may consider taking another substance to help them come down or change their experience. This is not generally a good idea and can often make the experience worse. 

Final Thoughts

Both microdosing psilocybin and taking a full psychedelic dose can be healing and have a number of benefits for the consumer. In both situations, it’s important to prepare and set your intentions in order to get the most out of the experience and decrease the likelihood of having a bad experience. 

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