Setting the right dosage can make the difference between a positive and negative experience. Taking too low a dose can be irritating and uncomfortable. Taking too high a dose can be frightening or possibly dangerous. Each individual reacts differently to various substances and dosages, so just because you know people who do a certain dosage doesn't mean that same dosage is right for you. Finding the right dosage is the trick.
How do you Know How Much you're Getting?Unfortunately, it's difficult to know the purity or strength of most street drugs. Whether or not you know the exact concentration of a drug, you can still pay close attention to the quantity you use, how many pills of what type, etc. Buying from a reliable source who has material of consistent quality and purity is key, although sometimes difficult to control. Ask questions. Ask how much MDMA is in the tablet, how strong the LSD is, how pure the 2C-B is or what kind of high the cannabis gives. Even if you don't get an answer it's good to find out all you can and to encourage your source to know.
Setting Dosages for New SubstancesThere are several things to take into consideration when choosing a starting dose for a new substance. Many people are willing to jump right in with new substances, taking a full dose as calculated by well-meaning friends, in a set and setting where a bad reaction could cause significant disruption. If your intention is to be reasonably safe with your use of entheogens we strongly recommend against this. People can and do have idiosyncratic responses to substances which cause others no problem at all. Allergic reactions, over-strong responses and unexpected physical or mental side-effects have ruined many a good evening that could have been avoided by doing a simple low-dose individual response test.
When trying a new substance, a good way to test for allergic or idiosyncratic responses is to try a threshold dose (generally about 1/4 of a regular dose) the first time. Choose a safe set and setting (home rather than a rave), preferably with a friend nearby in case a negative reaction does happen. Many people find threshold doses somewhat uncomfortable, as some of the physical and mental effects are present without being strong enough to fully immerse you in them. The point is to try not to confuse this general discomfort with the possible (but unlikely) dangerous side-effects you're looking for. Effects to watch for include uncomfortably fast heartbeat, rash, hives or burning skin sensation, coughing or breathing discomfort, vomiting, or unconsciousness. If any of these effects do occur you'll need to determine, based on their seriousness, whether you need medical attention or can merely wait them out.
Based on your reaction to this response test, you should be able to better judge what a normal dose of the substance would be for you. If you reacted fairly strongly to the threshold dose response test you'll know to start low. If you reacted about like you'd expect then an average dose is probably a good place to start. It should be noted that idiosyncratic responses can still happen at higher doses. There are as many types of responses to various doses and substances as there are people. The same substance, at the same dosage, in the same person at different times can lead to dramatically different experiences.
We know that many people don't do any sort of low-dose response test. Given the contexts in which many people try substances for a first time, it is unrealistic to expect most to try small amounts ahead of one's first attempt at a full experience with it, but for those who have special health issues, like to be cautious, or don't have much experience, this method can help minimize possible dangers.
Choosing & Adjusting DosagesSo, you're standing there and someone says "how much do you want?" How do you decide? If you've never done the substance before and a low-dose response test (see above) is out of the question, you might want to try something in the low end of a normal dose. If you've done the substance before, hopefully you know how much you took last time. It's a good idea to keep track of dosages over time so you have something concrete to refer to when choosing a dosage next time.
Some people like higher doses, some like lower. There's nothing wrong with either as long as they're each done responsibly. Lower doses are cheaper, they're generally safer, and there's less of a chance that you'll find the experience overwhelming. They're often better for public experiences where you'll need to interact with other people in any particular way. Higher doses are generally more intense and there's less of a chance that you'll have an under-reaction or no reaction at all. Many people like higher doses for the level of exploration they afford. Higher doses are often better in a safe setting where it's possible to move around or lie down as you like.
When choosing a dose, consider where you're going to be for the duration of the trip, what state of mind you're in and what sort of experience you're looking for (set and setting). Body weight, gender, prescription or non-prescription drugs you're taking, and general health can all affect dosage, as can what, when, and how much you've eaten in the past day.
BoostingBoosting is generally used to describe taking an additional dosage of a substance part way through the experience. Most commonly this is done with a lower dose the second time which can be taken at any point, including before the peak, during the peak, soon after the peak, or just before the effects of the first dose would start to wear off. "Boosting" is also used to describe re-dosing with ANY similar substance partway through a trip. For example, taking LSD or MDMA and boosting with 2C-B. Some substances boost well (2C-B, MDMA, Cannabis) and with others it doesn't work at all (smoked DMT, mushrooms less than other). See the individual dosage pages for specific information about boosting.
Boosting can extend the duration of a trip, it can increase the height of the peak, or it can deepen and expand an experience, but it also tends to increase the hangover and side effects. It's good to remember that boosting will not get you back to where you've just come from. Some people boost in an attempt to recapture the experience they've just moved through, which can cause disappointment. You're always moving ahead.
With many substances, especially the more pleasurable ones, it is best to decide ahead of time what the maximum number of boosts/redosings one is willing to do, tell those one is with, and stick to it. Many people report compulsive boosting or a strong feeling of wanting to stay up/down/high once they get there. This is very common with stimulants such as MDMA, Methamphetamine, 4-Methylmethcathinone, etc. A sense of loss can accompany the feeling of coming down off a strong high, adding to the desire to redose. Generally stick to your plan and remember that redosing when high increases risks of medical problems and hangovers. Life is long, you'll get another chance, be patient.