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A new trend with old drugs has emerged and like most illicit drug use, there are few facts and a myriad of unknown effects. The buzz around microdosing LSD and psychedelics is emanating from the tech industry, in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Whether or not it’s a fringe activity with relatively few but loud participants or a more widespread activity, it’s caught the attention of the mainstream media and is making headlines.
Psychedelic microdosing is the practice of ingesting a micro-dose of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), or psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms), every fourth day during the course of a normal work or school week. Advocates of microdosing claim a broad spectrum of benefits, such as relief from chronic headaches, increased energy, improved focus and greater creativity.
The tiny doses are supposed to be “sub-perceptual,” meaning users probably won’t experience a full-blown psychedelic experience. Dr. Fadiman, author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, told Rolling Stone Magazine that microdosing is “…an extremely healthy alternative to taking Adderall,” which apparently some software programmers are known to abuse.
What are Possible Problems with Microdosing?
Microdosing presents several issues right out of the gate. First, both LSD and psilocybin mushrooms are listed as Schedule I Drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This means that they are illegal, have a high potential for abuse and that there are currently no accepted medical uses for the substances.
Furthermore, schedule I drugs are not available for studies, which translates to zero scientific evidence that this behavior is safe, despite positive anecdotes from advocates. Some of the other problems include the following:
- The suggested microdose is a tenth of a normal dose, approximately 10 micrograms of LSD or 0.2 to 0.5 grams of mushrooms. What’s problematic here is the whole concept of a “normal” dose. There are no accepted medical standards for these drugs and a “normal” dose simply does not exist
- Neither drug is manufactured in a pharmaceutical lab. So a user’s supply is coming from a rogue chemist or grower working out of an unregulated and illegal workshop
- The actual strength of microdoses from one supplier to another will vary, making it all but impossible for users to know exactly what the “right” dose is
- Dosing mistakes might not take full effect until a user is driving their car or sitting in a meeting at work, unleashing any number of negative and dangerous consequences
- The properties of psychedelics affect people in different ways. What might be “sub-perceptual” for one individual could potentially cause another with an undiagnosed mental illness to have a literal mental breakdown
Critics of the trend, like Dr. Robert Glatter, a health and medical contributor at Forbes.com are skeptical. “Are things so dire in the workplace,” writes Dr. Glatter, “that some persons are now turning to microdoses of psychedelics to reach new heights in creativity?” adding that a cup of coffee must no longer be a cool enough “pick-me-up” in Silicon Valley.
While trends, like microdosing, tend to make headlines, they are in no way healthy or safe. The unknown and unintended side effects may put users, as well as those in their path, at risk. Articles like this will cause trendsetters to sigh and roll their eyes, but medical science, to date, has proven that the healthiest, most energetic and creative among us strive to live active and clean lifestyles.