Psychedelic Intensity Scale

“I took a tab” could mean anything – I’ve seen tabs with anywhere from 50ug-250ug.

I’ve also seen a guy go completely delusional, divorced from reality, and then not remember anything afterwards on 300ug – while another guy, on the same dose with the same tabs, was completely lucid.

And if you mix in other drug use like SSRIs, fatigue, set and setting variations, tolerance, experience with the drug, and the fact that doses on tabs from the same sheet often have high variance, when you tell me “I took a tab,” I get almost no information.

When talking about a trip, I want to know about some measurement that tells me “how much it was for you” – tabs and micrograms don’t always do it. Visuals and thought changes var per person – so my preferred method is ability to act in the environment. Thus I hereby present to you Aella’s Psychedelic Scale, which probably overlaps with a lot of other scales but has a specific focus on functionality.

Simple tasks mean basic things that include a few familiar steps, like going to the bathroom, getting dressed, throwing things into the trash can, screwing in a light bulb.
Complex tasks mean things that have several, sometimes novel steps, like cooking a meal, voting in your local election, assembling a desk, etc.

Level 0
No noticeable effects. Microdosing falls at this level.
Possible dose range: 1-25ug

Level 1
Simple task performance: Unaffected
Complex task performance: Unaffected

Noticeable effects, but no decreased ability to perform nearly all tasks on a typical behavioral range.
This stage usually happens before visual movement, and includes increased body sensations, energy, and mood.
Possible dose range: 15-80ug

Level 2
Simple task performance: Unaffected
Complex task performance: Difficult, but capable solo

Complicated things start to get hard but are still achievable with focus; easy, familiar tasks are still easy and familiar, though they might be more fun.
Some visual movement usually begins at this stage, and audio may seem different.
Possible dose range: 50-175ug

Level 3
Simple task performance: Difficult, but capable solo
Complex task performance: Incapable solo, but capable with assistance

Simple tasks become difficult, and complicated tasks can only be done with assistance – where someone else is present to remind, help, and guide the tripper through the process.
Visual movement is usually pronounced at this stage; time dilation and significant confusion tends to occur.
Possible dose range: 125-300ug

Level 4
Simple task performance: Incapable solo, but capable with assistance
Complex task performance: Incapable even with assistance

Simple tasks can only be done with assistance, and complicated tasks are impossible even with assistance.
Visual movement is usually overwhelming at this stage; significant time dilation, moments of infinity, and auditory hallucinations occur.
Possible dose range: 200-500ug

Level 5
Simple task performance: Incapable even with assistance
Complex task performance: Incapable even with assistance

Neither simple nor complicated tasks can be done even with assistance; people may urinate themselves, scream, or be unaware of their surroundings.
Visual changes are usually all-encompassing, with inability to see the environment and complete detachment from reality. Amnesia can occur at this stage.
Possible dose range: 300ug+

In my ideal world, instead of asking “how many tabs did you take?” people would ask, “What level was your trip?” and it would be so much more meaningful. Most of my LSD trips have been Level 3, with only one trip hitting Level 5.

8 thoughts on “Psychedelic Intensity Scale”

  1. I am someone who is incredibly sensitive to psychedelics, where my highest LSD dosage was 125 ug and it essentially was a level 5 or id say more like 4.5. I will be level 2 off 50 ug edging on level 3. 90 micrograms is easily level 4.

    I am nervous to try again (it’s been 2 years almost since my last acid trip) because I find I am even more sensitive now following a year of deep meditative inquiry: I took (i kid you not) .3 grams of shrooms and tripped harder than my friend who was off 5 or 6 grams. Though, the curious thing was that it was the most cognizant trip I’ve ever had. It was sort of like, super intense in theme, yet very digestible, flowed, and was relatively clear following the peak.

    What was interesting was your comment, Aella, about the capacity to enter these states sans LSD/shrooms. I think you’re correct, and part of the reason for that line of thinking is that when i took the .3 grams of shrooms, I had been in a very “unitive” state already, edging on psychedelic, all week due to intense meditation at the time. As such, I took the mushrooms and within 5 minutes I was already seeing patterns in the table. OFF .3 GRAMS!! lol

    I think there is something to be said about intensity and immersion of the experience as a function of openness to experience.


    1. keep in mind that there really isn’t a way to produce the same overall effect by other means. the reason is that the drugs affect the brain and hit specific receptors in ways that couldn’t be reproduced otherwise. e.g. it’s not physically possible. you can experience things that may feel similar in a way like meditation but it’s for different reasons

  2. I have never reached a level 5. I have reached level 4 with starting to hear things but somehow it ended up leading me to a very magical place. I have never had a bad trip such as what I think is being described at level 5. That does not sound fun at all and no sane person would ever want to purposefully reach that level.

  3. My version of doses in ug. r = recommended
    Level 0: 10? – 25, r=15 – 20
    Level 1: 25 – 50 , r=35 – 40
    Level 2: 50 – 80, r=70 – 75
    Level 3: 80 – 150 , r=125 – 150
    Level 4: 150 – 300, r=~250(?)
    Level 5.1: 300 – 600, r=500(?)
    Level 5.2: 600 +, r=?
    5.2=very hight 5 level. Not recomended!

  4. Hmmm. I don’t really agree with these dosages. For instance, I’m completely unable to follow a math lecture when I take any amount over 25 micrograms.

  5. This scale doesn’t actually seem to track the things that are relevant to me about a psychedelic experience and it slightly surprises me that it does for you? In my own case, I’ve yet to take more than 200ug of LSD at once, and I’ve also never went above like 1.5 on your scale so far. (Complex tasks have not become meaningfully more difficult, so much as I’m generally less inclined to switch my focus to them because I hate locking up several minutes in a single task when I can instead step back and process really fast.)

    However, despite never even getting to a meaningful 2, psychedelics have basically changed my life. I’ve had such experiences as: Realising I should leave my abuser; achieving much greater depths of art comprehension; experiencing all intense sensation as pleasure, the LSD-telepathy thing where I start liveblogging other people’s thoughts to them if they go non-verbal; realising I could distort my perception at will and started doing this in a methodical way to find the bounds of what my mind could visually represent; became the World Creator, had the subjective experience of ascending to godhood, and had my neuroticism immediately drop way off; formed a superorganism with a group of friends and had my ego dissolve; and developed a permanent capacity for visual imagery (I was previously only verbal), intense aesthetic appreciation, and the ability to perceive things in that hyper-symmetric psychedelic beauty way by intending to. Also, I might believe I’m immortal? But I no longer have a good framework for what “believe” means.

    I’m under no illusions that this is the most one can be internally affected. In fact, I’m interviewing with the Qualia Research Institute and intend to investigate way more of what’s out there (in here?). However, if I tried to use this Psychedelic Intensity Scale to compare experiences with other people, I’d get roughly none of the information I care about. I’ve never been to level 2, but the vast majority of people I’ve met who’ve been to level 2 haven’t even learned how to redraw their world at will! Sometimes I’ll trip and decide to reform my perceptual world into a cathedral, but so far that hasn’t made it even moderately challenging to navigate the subway.

    Just in general, I rarely find it difficult to interface with the outside world, regardless of my internal state. If I couldn’t complete complex tasks while also presenting socially as normal, all while my internal world is entirely on fire, I wouldn’t have survived my childhood. Being on LSD up to 200ug doesn’t feel meaningfully different to me. Being able to remember what consensus reality looks like and engage with it in a way that fools everyone else is just a part of who I am, but is also why I’m completely uninterested in ability to engage with consensus reality as a metric. The thing I care about is the internal world, so if I wanted a scale to rate the intensity of a trip, I would want something that measured some sort of variance from one’s psychic base state. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of a good mental-effect metric to base the scale on, but for now PIS doesn’t seem more valuable to me than just asking for dosage, tbh. I expect both to have a similar (ie, low but useful) correlation with the things that matter.

    1. This is a SUPER late reply but here I am

      I’ve increasingly grown to think of there being a separate state that is more easily accessible through LSD but does not require LSD, and doing LSD does not guarantee you will enter that state.

      For me, a lot of what you describe is stuff I start to feel on levels 1-2, at this point (though it took me a lot of trips for me to be able to enter that stuff on lower levels, so it sounds like LSD super agrees with you, good job).

      I think probably the primary thing that makes interacting with the world difficult is the time dilation experienced on higher doses. Regardless of how clear you’re able to see, it’s really hard to perform complicated tasks when one minute feels like it took a year to happen and all the thoughts you had a minute ago were thoughts you had a year ago.

      I don’t wanna say I’m totally sure, but what you’re saying sounds like you’ve had entry into the ‘other state’ that is different from the psychedelic intensity scale I’m attempting to describe here.

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