The 4 Things Most People Don’t Know About the Intensity of Psychedelic Trips

Psychedelic trips can range from mildly perceptive to utterly earth-shattering in intensity. While LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline are relatively safe physically, their effects on consciousness can be unpredictable and profound.

Yet most casual or inexperienced users underestimate the sheer potency of these substances when taken in high doses or unstable environments. They fail to grasp how dramatically set and setting shape the experience, and how deeply one must surrender to the journey.

In this blog, we will explore key factors that affect the intensity and quality of a psychedelic trip. Dose, environment, other people present, and your mindset all interact to produce the experience you have. We can better prepare for and navigate the mystical worlds psychedelics reveal by understanding these dynamics.

While challenging at times, with care and intention, these tools can reveal life-changing beauty and self-discovery. By approaching with reverence, not recklessness, psychedelics’ benefits outweigh the risks. Let’s dive deeper into enhancing the magic and minimising the darkness.

The effect of psychedelics on consciousness can be unpredictable and profound.

Dose Matters

When exploring psychedelics, dosage is one of the most important factors affecting your trip’s intensity and nature. Yet many novice users underestimate how profoundly increasing the dose can intensify and elongate the effects. They believe doubling the dosage will merely double the strength when (often) psychedelics follow an exponential curve.

  • Higher doses exponentially increase effects – doubling the dose does not simply double the experience. The psychedelic experience follows a nonlinear dosage curve (though some argue that this effect flattens at multiples of heroic doses).
  • Become familiar with your chosen substance’s threshold, mild, moderate, high, and heroic dose ranges. Do not make huge leaps in dosage.
    • For example, a moderate dose of psilocybin mushrooms is considered 1-3 grams dried. 3-5 grams would be a high dose, and anything above 5 grams is heroic territory.
  • Sensory distortions, loss of ego, and mystical states intensify at higher doses. There is an increased chance of fear, confusion, and overwhelming visuals.
  • While tempting to seek transcendent states, be wary of dramatic dosage escalations. Set and setting become even more crucial at high doses.
  • Dosage affects the duration as well as intensity. A trip could last 6-8 hours on a moderate dose, but 10-12 hours on a heroic one.
  • Carefully research dosing to avoid taking way more than intended. “Too much” differs from person to person based on sensitivity.
  • Start low with psychedelics to gauge your reaction. Working up slowly allows you to become familiar with each dosage range.

Understanding how dose intensities the psychedelic experience is key to planning safe, meaningful journeys. Educate yourself on dosages and start low to appreciate these powerful tools responsibly.

Setting is Crucial

The environment and physical space in which you have a psychedelic experience profoundly shape its subjective effects. Settings on opposite ends of the spectrum, like nature versus chaotic parties, will produce very different trips.

  • Calm, welcoming settings like a quiet room with soft lighting and nature access are ideal, especially for beginners.
  • Noisy, chaotic settings like raves or crowds can overstimulate, inducing anxiety and paranoia during trips.
  • Nature settings like parks, forests or beaches provide tranquillity and childlike wonder, but they may also feel overwhelming. Have a home base.
  • Certain public places like museums or concerts can be stimulating in moderation (read: a low dose), but may get intense. Save for experienced trips.
  • Music is hugely influential. Create playlists ahead of time for each phase of the trip. Calming instrumental and ambient genres are safest.
  • The people present will also make or break the experience. Trip with only close friends or a guide for best results.
  • Prepare the setting ahead of time, removing potential stressors. Make sure to turn off phones/notifications to avoid disruptions.

Thoroughly considering your setting enables a container and sanctuary for the psychedelic insights to unfold safely. Curate the space wisely for the journey you wish to have.

Mindset Shapes the Journey

Your mindset helps create the reality of the trip.

In addition to external factors like dose and setting, your internal mindset and expectations coming into a psychedelic trip also profoundly impact the experience. Attempting to resist or control the journey can lead to negative effects.

  • Pre-trip anxiety and nervousness can manifest as increased nausea, tension, or challenging cognitive experiences once the psychedelic takes effect.
  • Trying to rigidly guide or suppress the experience tends to backfire. Surrendering and letting go allows things to unfold naturally.
  • Having specific hopes like “I want to feel enlightened or one with the universe” can lead to disappointment if unmet. Expectations should be flexible.
  • While unpleasant moments may arise, adopting an observational mindset reduces reactivity.
  • Changing scenery or activity can also shift the energy.
  • Periods of reflection, creative work, or intimate connection with others take advantage of psychedelics’ unique properties.

Your mindset helps create the reality of the trip. Anxiety and resistance begat further turmoil. Whereas openness, curiosity and surrender enable healing.

Safety Tips and Harm Reduction

While reasonable dosing, setting and mindset help optimise the psychedelic experience, adhering to basic safety principles reduces potential risks and harms.

  • Always test your substances to confirm they are what you intend to take and not adulterated.
  • Start with lower doses, especially when trying a new psychedelic for the first time.
  • Avoid mixing psychedelics with other substances, including alcohol.
  • Have a sober, trusted trip sitter present to provide reassurance and handle logistics.
  • Be in a stable place both mentally and physically – psychedelics can tax the body.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery while under the influence.
  • Be aware psychedelics are illegal in most places and carry penalties if caught.
  • Consider your personal and family history of mental illness when assessing risks.
  • Allow sufficient time for integration and self-care following intensive psychedelic sessions.
  • Avoid taking psychedelics too frequently or routinely. Space out trips.

While not entirely risk-free, psychedelics can be used safely by accounting for one’s own limits, being prepared for powerful effects, and integrating each journey. Prioritize wisdom, harm reduction, and personal growth above all.

When approached with proper precautions, psychedelics can occasion beautiful and deeply meaningful states of awareness. By respecting these substances and understanding how factors like dose, setting, and mindset shape the experience, you can navigate the mystical terrain they reveal. While challenging at times, with care and courage, psychedelics can be guides to our innermost truths and catalysts of healing and growth. When treated as sacraments rather than party drugs, they open doors to wisdoms as old as humanity itself.


Lotte and Floris are the two guides for FLO Coaching. We combine our years of coaching & therapy to help people experience a (first) guided psychedelic trip.

We uniquely focus on preparation and integration to provide long-term positive changes in mind and behaviour.

Assistance is provided by Max and Saar, though our dogs haven't yet learned to write for the blog 🐾