Empirical codebook: challenges of microdosing
Grounded theory coding resulted in a total of 603.5 coded challenges of microdosing. Taxonomy-building resulted in 44 codes organized into 23 sub-categories and 11 shrooms categories. The most frequently reported low-level codes were illegality (10.8%), dose accuracy (9.1%), poor focus (8.8%), and anxiety (5.3%).
Categories of challenges
As above, this summary provides extended descriptions of the 11 categories of challenge (Fig. 1).
Illegality (29.5%, 178 reports): This category captures codes concerning the illegality of psychedelic microdosing substances per se, as well as codes concerning the consequences thereof. These include dosing challenges associated with unregulated substances (e.g. taking too much or too little), the availability of the substance (i.e. dealing with the black market), and cost of the substance. Also included is the social stigma surrounding the use of these substances and feeling the need to hide one’s activity from others.
Physiological discomfort (18.0%, 108.5 reports): This category concerns physically detrimental challenges including disrupted senses (visual), temperature dysregulation, numbing/tingling, insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, reduced appetite, and increased migraines and/or headaches.
Impaired focus (8.8%, 53 reports): This challenge category references codes concerning poor focus, distractibility, and absent-mindedness.
Increased anxiety (6.7%, 40.5 reports): References to increased anxiety (general, social, existential) fit in this category.
Impaired energy (7.2%, 43.5 reports): This category includes codes referencing both excessive energy (restlessness, jitters) and inadequate energy (fatigue, drowsiness, brain fog).
Impaired mood (6.9%, 41.5 reports): This category includes codes related to mood deterioration (sadness, discontent, irritability), emotional difficulties (over-emotionality, mood swings), and impaired outlook (fear, feeling unusual).
Social interference (2.6%, 15.5 reports): This category references various socially impairing challenges such as awkwardness, oversharing, and difficulties with sentence-production in social settings.
Cognitive interference (2.3%, 14 reports): This category concerns confusion, disorientation, racing thoughts, and poor memory.
Self-interference (1.2%, 7.5 reports): This category references codes concerning self-processing concerns (dissociation, depersonalization) and self-sabotaging (rumination, over-analysis).
Other perceived challenges (10.6%, 64 reports): This category was a catch-all for otherwise uncategorized codes. These include the unknown risk-effect profile of microdosing itself, the need to prepare and remember to dose, references specifically citing that there were no challenges (1.5%), and other miscellany. This category also includes reports that there were no beneficial effects (0.6%). Furthermore, this category includes substance-related concerns regarding taste, pupil dilation, and duration of effects, and also concerns about negative drug interactions.
Increased symptoms (other) (6.2%, 37.5 reports): References to after effects (psychological dependence and concerns about potential addiction, substance tolerance, comedown or hangover) and also more concerning, but rare, adverse psychological events (0.7%).