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The term dosage refers to the size of a dose of a medicine or drug. In regards to the classification of dosage and their amounts, it can be broken down into microdose, threshold, light, common, strong, heavy, and overdose (fatal and non-fatal). Each of these levels result in a different intensification of the compound's desired effects depending on the substance consumed.

Within the context of psychonautic or recreational substance usage, it is important to understand dosages and to pay utmost caution to the amount being consumed. Administering the wrong dosage of a drug can lead to negative experiences such as extreme anxiety, uncomfortable physical side effects, a bad psychedelic trip, hospitalization, or (in extreme cases) death. Taking too low of a dose can often make people feel uncomfortable and frustrated, which can be dangerous when it leads them to re-dose at higher than the original intended amount, which can result in suddenly intense, overwhelming and potentially dangerous experiences.

Choosing dosages

It is important that one avoid dosages which one is uncomfortable or unfamiliar with. An inexperienced user should always start at very low dosages with the goal of working their way up in small increments as they feel comfortable doing so. This should be done by slightly increasing the dosage with each separate experience and never taking great leaps into the unknown.

Doing so allows people to get a feel for the substance that they are using in a controlled setting before they dive into deeper states. For pressed pills or tabs, one should buy from a reliable source with consistent product and ask questions concerning purity and how many milligrams of a drug is in the product.

This minimizes the risk of an accidental negative experience enormously; it is important to remember that everybody reacts differently to every substance depending on factors such as their own personal tolerance, neurophysiology, body weight, metabolism, stomach contents and personal sensitivity. Another factor to consider is drug purity which differs between batches of product.

For information on the appropriate dosage for any substance, research should be done using a combination of PsychonautWiki, Erowid, Tripsit, Wikipedia, Bluelight, and Google.

Allergy testing

Some people, especially those with health issues or over-reactive immune systems, may have adverse or allergic reactions to drugs such as uncomfortable physical or cognitive effects, or over-sensitivity.[1] The best way to prevent this is to perform an allergy test with every new batch of a substance the user receives (even if coming from a reliable source, as sometimes much more potent and dangerous compounds can become unintentionally mixed up with the product being advertised). To properly perform an allergy test, one can simply dose a minuscule amount of the drug (1/6 of a regular dose) and then wait several hours to a few days.

When performing an allergy test, one should note any unusual side effects including rashes, hives, breathing discomfort, an uncomfortably fast heartbeat, or a burning sensation on one's skin.[1] Depending on the severity of symptoms, medical services may be needed.

Dosage measurement

Main article: Dosage measurement

There are various ways in which users measure their dosages of psychoactive substances. The most accurate and safe method to measure one's drugs is to use a combination of a milligram scale and the volumetric liquid dosing method. This is a vastly far safer route than "eyeballing" one's dosages by approximating the weight of what they are ingesting simply by looking at it and making a rough (but inaccurate) guess.


This picture shows why eyeballing using microscoops is not an accurate and reliable form of measurement.

Eyeballing is strongly discouraged in any context. Eyeballing is a highly inaccurate method of measuring substances which involves looking at a substance and making a rough guess of the weight. Since there is not much difference between 10mg and 30mg visually, it can result in one taking too much of a substance.[2] There are numerous forms of eyeballing methods, including using micro scoops and the graph paper method.

  • Measuring scoops
  • Graph paper method - In this method, a known quantity of a substance is spread evenly onto a piece of graph paper and one's doses are based on how many graph paper squares are covered. This method is inaccurate simply because the volume of a measured weight of powder can vary significantly in its density, even with different batches of the same substance.[3] For example, two equal-sized piles of mescaline can have completely different densities and therefore different weights.

Users should not trust a vendor's word that their product weighs a certain amount as it is not unheard of for vendors to accidentally or intentionally give out the wrong amount of a product (both more than advertised or less), which can result in overdoses for some users.[3]

It is especially dangerous to eyeball substances that are active at extremely low doses (under 10mg) and have sensitive dose-response curves.

Milligram scales

The GEMINI-20 portable milligram scale shown above is a popular scale recommended by Tripsit. These can be purchased here.

When buying chemicals in powdered form, it is strongly recommended that one invest in a reliable and accurate digital milligram scale to ensure that they are ingesting a safe and recommended dosage. A simple $20-30 investment in such equipment can be the difference between a safe and enjoyable experience, and a negative and dangerous one.

To achieve the most accurate measurement, the scale should only be used on a completely flat surface away from vibrations, wind, and drafts. Low batteries can also affect the scale's accuracy, so one should occasionally replace them.[4]

There are a huge variety of different scales available online through various sites. To choose a quality scale, users should read the reviews before buying and come to their own personal decision. Users should ideally choose a scale that has a 0.001g readability. When using a scale that has 0.005 gram readability (5mg), the weight will be off by 5mg in either direction, meaning that if one measures 20mg of a substance, the results will be between 15-25mg.

For general purpose usage, the following products are recommended by TripSit:[5]

Milligram scales under $1000 cannot accurately weigh out doses below at least 50mg and are highly inaccurate under 10-15mg. For potent drugs, users are strongly advised to use volumetric liquid dosing.

Weighing technique

Most milligram scales are more accurate in higher ranges (5 - 15 grams) than the lower ranges. Therefore, it is better to weigh one's drug while the 10 gram weight is on the scale. The following steps outline the weighing method for the most accurate measurement:

  1. Place scale on completely flat surface away from wind and vibrations
  2. Calibrate scale
  3. Add 10 gram weight onto scale without tarring
  4. Add empty gel capsule and mark down weight without tarring
  5. Add the powder into the gel capsule
  6. Mark down weight of filled capsule
  7. Subtract the weight in step 4 from the final weight in step 6
  8. Use volumetric liquid dosing afterwards, especially for very potent drugs (under 10mg)

Volumetric liquid dosing

Main article: Volumetric liquid dosing

Volumetric liquid dosing should preferably be used for potent drugs because most standard milligram scales cannot accurately weigh out doses below 10-15mg.[6]

Volumetric liquid dosing is the process of dissolving a known quantity of a compound in a liquid medium in order to make it easier to measure and accurately dose. In the interest of harm reduction, it is essential to prepare certain compounds which are too potent to measure with traditional weighing scales within a liquid solution. Please see the above article for more information about this form of measurement.

Dosage classification

Main article: Dosage classification

Although different substances induce different effects regardless of their appropriate dosage, the intensity of the experience they are likely to induce can be broken down into five separate categories.

The effects below should not to be considered as fact and should therefore be used merely as a general guideline. These effects will almost certainly differ between specific compounds and further research must be done beyond this article to determine their individual dosages, durations and subjective effects.


A microdose is a sub-perceptual dose which is so low (such as 10 micrograms of LSD) that it is unlikely to induce directly noticeable or perceptible effects.

The panels below demonstrate which effects generally occur at a microdose dose for various classes of psychoactive substances.




Cannabis leaf (1).svg



A threshold dose will cause users to experience the effects of the substance in an extremely light and subtle manner which can potentially go completely unnoticed. It is distinctly just beyond that of placebo effect, but can be ignored with minimal effort when one directs their focus towards the external environment. Users may perceive a vague sense of "something" occurring at this level, but it can be challenging to distinguish it from the placebo effect. Experienced users may be able to more clearly distinguish the "something."

The panels below demonstrate which effects generally occur at a threshold dose for various classes of psychoactive substances.


A light dose will cause effects which are noticeable and clearly distinct from sobriety, but remain in the background of the user's perception. The effects remain possible to ignore by increasing the focus one directs towards other things when performing complex tasks. The user may have to pay particular attention to the effects of the drug for them to be recognizable, or they may be slightly noticeable but will not insist upon the user's attention.

The panels below demonstrate which effects generally occur at a light dose for various classes of psychoactive substances.


Cannabis leaf (1).svg


Within this range, not only are the effects and the nature of a drug's action quite clear and distinct, but ignoring its action becomes difficult (although experienced users may be able to do so). The user will generally be able to partake in regular behaviors and remain functional and communicable. The effects can be allowed a predominant role or they may be repressed and made secondary to other chosen activities.

The panels below demonstrate which effects generally occur at a common dose for various classes of psychoactive substances.


Cannabis leaf (1).svg

McCormick Pills.svg



A strong dose renders its subject as mostly incapable of functioning or interacting normally, or thinking in a sober manner. The effects of the drug are clear, but at this level they are no longer ignorable and the user is engaged entirely in the experience.

The panels below demonstrate which effects generally occur at a strong dose for various classes of psychoactive substances.


Cannabis leaf (1).svg


At heavy doses, the user has reached the upper limit of what this compound is capable of producing in terms of perceivable psychoactive effects. Depending on the substance consumed, the user may be rendered incapable of functioning on any basic level, experience extremely uncomfortable side effects, or hit a ceiling dose with diminishing returns.

The panels below demonstrate which effects generally occur at a heavy dose for various classes of psychoactive substances.


Cannabis leaf (1).svg



An overdose is a quantity greater than recommended, intended or generally practiced, with the possibility of the dose resulting in death or serious injury. Immediate professional medical advice should always be sought when a user has taken a dose greater than or equal to this, although tolerance may allow experienced users' bodies to survive such doses unharmed. It should be noted that doses below this level may also be harmful in some cases.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Erowid Psychoactive Vaults: Dose |
  2. How big is a milligram? (Ask Erowid) |
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Importance of Measured Doses by Fire Erowid & Spoon |
  4. American Weigh Scales, Inc Gemini-20 User Manual |
  5. Tripsit Wiki - Scales |
  6. 3-MeO-PCP (Tripsit) |