Why Some People Don’t Feel Psychedelics

Are your psychedelic trips seeming a bit lackluster? Here are some possible explanations.
Why Some People Don’t Feel Psychedelics
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Before doing 5 MEO DMT, a hallucinogen made from the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad, people told me it was the most powerful psychedelic of all, one that would take me to another dimension. So, after three doses, I was surprised to stay firmly on the ground, talking through the problems in my life.

5 MEO DMT still gave me valuable insights and a feeling of inner peace and euphoria, but some people experience even less with psychedelics. Hannah, 27, didn’t feel anything when she took magic mushrooms. Zoe, 23, once tripped on acid at a festival and saw nothing but “some lights dancing and some shadows” for 10 minutes. Bianca, 27, has taken LSD a few times, and they’ve all been very subtle. “If I focused on one thing for a long time, it would start to get wavy and glisten a little. And I was so, so giggly,” she says. “But that’s pretty much it.”

While most things you hear about psychedelics, both good and bad, focus on how intense their effects can be, some people feel very little or nothing. This can happen for a variety of reasons, ranging from the physical to the psychological. 

What’s Inhibiting Your Trip?

One reason is painfully obvious: If you’re not feeling the effects of a drug, you may not be taking enough to do so. “A lot of newcomers are appropriately concerned about the dose, so they take a low dose, and it’s not enough for them,” says James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center.  

The other obvious factor has to do with other substances in someone’s system. Antidepressants called SSRIs will blunt the effects of psychedelics, says Giordano. That’s what Hannah was on when she took mushrooms. SSRIs, as well as benzodiazepines, affect both your nervous system and the enzymes that process psychedelics, says Giordano. This can make trips shorter and less intense and also make the effects come on later. 

Then, there are innate differences in how people metabolize drugs. “You can share the drug, but you can’t share the trip,” says Giordano. “My trip can be very different from your trip on the exact same dose of the exact same drug under the exact same circumstances.” Or, as he tells his med students, “The devils and the deities live in the details of the structural and functional connections of our brains. That’s why these experiences can activate different nodes and patterns in different people to produce different effects.” 

This is especially true for DMT-based psychedelics like ayahuasca and 5 MEO DMT. “A lot of what people describe with DMT effects — dimensional deportation and reaching an enlightened state — those really vary,” says Giordano. “Some people just get kind of chill, some people get multi-sensory hallucinations, and some have this profound spiritual experience, but that’s not uniform.”

Those who approach psychedelics from a spiritual perspective see deeper reasons why some appear unaffected by them. Tricia Eastman, who runs retreats with iboga, magic mushrooms, and 5 MEO DMT, says the mind sometimes blocks psychedelics’ effects because someone’s ego doesn’t want to go where the substance may lead them. People who are highly intellectual or who have histories of trauma are often more prone to this, she says. 

Zoe thinks this kind of self-protection may have to do with what happened to her when she didn’t feel the acid. “I wasn’t at ease like the times I tried it before,” she says. “I was in a public place with people I [didn’t] know.”

Giordano, however, is skeptical that someone’s mind can really block the effects of a psychedelic. “Those drugs are pretty strong,” he says. “I really don’t know many instances that I’ve ever heard of clinically where somebody says, ‘I’ve been able to think myself out of it.’” 

Another thing that can blunt the psychological effects of a psychedelic, in Eastman’s view, is the person’s intention. For example, if someone goes into a shamanic ceremony with the intention of physical healing, they may not get visions because the substance is working on their body. 

Whatever the reason you’re not feeling a psychedelic, taking more in an attempt to bring on an effect can be risky — the trip can be more intense and last longer once it finally hits, says Giordano. You also may want to reconsider what counts as “feeling it.”

“Medicines are here to clean you, to align you, it’s meant for purification, or sometimes just a deeper understanding of self,” says Eastman. “That doesn’t necessarily come from visions. Sometimes, the visions can be a distraction, and if someone goes in with this attachment — ‘I have to have this experience, and I hear you’re going to see a white man in a robe with a beard and all this stuff’ and they’re expecting to see that, then they don’t see it and they’re disappointed, and they miss out on a huge part of the experience because they have this attachment.” 

So, she recommends that journeyers keep an open mind and understand the drug may not affect them in the way they expect, but it’s still doing something. “The medicine wants you to completely let go and go on a journey.”

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13 comments
  1. Is there more info on which SSRI s may block psilocybin and cause a person not to feel the effects of the mushrooms?

  2. What about those of us who don’t feel anything at all? I have tried a few psychedelics, but so far nothing has worked.

  3. I have taken shrooms a total of 5 times.While everyone else around me was having a good time, I felt absolutely nothing. First time I took half an eighth, my last time, I took an entire 1/4, absolutely 0 effects what so ever. Only hint of being high is that my pupils were extremely small, but I had absolutely no “trip” in any sense. Guess I’m just a freak? My friends were freaking out asking what the fuck was wrong with me.😂

  4. First time doing dmt had an amazing experience, about 6 months ago. Have tried 3 or 4 times since and nothing. However everyone I’m with enjoys their experience. So wait again for another month and try again heavier and harder, others enjoy, while I feel nothing. What is going on, so frustrating. Am I trying to hard. I set environment , candles, low lights, soft music, one other person. Where am I going wrong, please help.

  5. I have a high IQ and I’ve had multiple traumas as a child so this does make sense. I am afraid to allow the unknown to happen, yet I deeply want to enter the unknown, or open my mind, or let go, or to just feel something, anything. How I can I override my brain if this is in fact true? Changing the environment possibly? I dont take any SSRIs, nor do I take Benzos. I have tried DMT, shrooms, acid all multiple times with no effects at all and I am the only one who doesn’t trip it seems. I admit to sometimes pretending I do just to avoid the questions or to avoid taking the drug again in the same setting because I dont want someone to waste it on me.

    1. It sounds like we’re in a similar situation. What little bit I experience, is virtually irrelevant. I can actually create a better “trip” experience with meditation. I know I lack a liver enzyme (CYP family of metabolites) to metabolize lidocaine, sedation, Vicodin, and Marijuana edibles, but I don’t think it plays a factor with metabolizing hallucinogenics. It is possible, I suppose, but I do get a massive amount of pain relieve when I take LSD. Perhaps it is a mental block and requires further exploration at some point.

    2. Same boat high iq, traumatic brain injury, thyroid cancer hyperthyroidism took 150mg of dmt nothing my wife took 25 mg blasted off three times within a four hour period she seen animals and all kinds of stuff I was so disappointed.
      I eat mushrooms and I do get very minor visuals at 5+grams
      But I mostly feel very good body high and internal thought process is great music is the best sometimes i get emotional in a positive way I love shrooms but others have strong visuals on 1-3grams where it don’t that much but I don’t understand why dmt only gives me a little pressure in my temple That’s it???

  6. I have tried psychedelics many times at parties, Amsterdam holiday, on my own, or with a few friends on a camping trip. The effects start and I’m ready for the ride but then I just feel something in my brain say “nope, we’re not doing this” and it just stops. While my friends where having a great time it was like I had taken nothing. It was very frustrating. I just gave up trying in the end.

  7. i took .8 but i’m on an ssri and feel nothing. how much should i take next time?? this was also my first time so i didn’t wanna over do it

  8. I took shrooms for the first time last night and I took a large dose, more than a gram, felt a little euphoric ig and lost my filter almost as if I was drunk, but I didn’t trip, I had 0 visual effects at all. Don’t know if there’s something wrong with me or the shrooms were bad, I don’t think it’s possible to reply on here but I need some advice badly and I don’t know how to fix the issue

  9. I took a sheet of LSD and didn’t feel anything like my friends who only took a tab described. I just felt relaxed, and normal annoyances went away. I’ve taken a ton of shrooms on separate occasions and didn’t feel anything other than seeing vibrant colors. The “trips” or “highs” have been incredibly underwhelming. I suffer from anxiety and depression due to combat traumas, and I don’t take meds for any of it. I just drink alcohol when it’s too much to deal with, and on a daily basis I try to eat a healthy diet and exercise vigorously. Maybe it is the traumas that blocks the effects of the psychedelics, but I’ve just accepted that psychedelics aren’t for me. I’ll stick to exercise and booze.

  10. My brothers and I bought acid recently. My oldest brother and myself had done it before, while my middle brother hadn’t. I had taken 2 hits, they had taken 1. I tripped like crazy, and so did my oldest. My middle brother has only seen a few tracers and he laughed a bit. He’s really bummed out.

  11. I am one of those that doesn’t trip 🙁
    I’m pretty sure my friends don’t believe me. I have tried acid so many times in hope of it working. All my friends are tripping bollocks and I get literally nothing. Believe me.. I have taken enough!
    I have taken many shrooms. I do get a body high from shrooms… extreme fatigue and a spell of laughter but no visuals.
    I really want it to work!!

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