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Is LSD Microdosing a Problem?

Open capsule pill falling out molecules on marble background. High quality photo

While he was far from the only person to have claimed that their mind “opened up” after dropping LSD, Steve Jobs was perhaps the one person in recent memory who generated the most interest in using hallucinogens as a way to be more productive. 

In his authorized 2011 biography penned by Walter Isaacson, the iconic business magnate said: “Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”

The revelation that one of the most influential personalities of all time implied his massive success rested on his LSD use, has more than anything else, captured the attention of both researchers and aspiring entrepreneurs.

In particular, microdosing, the practice of using periodically using extremely small doses of LSD and other hallucinogens has generated a significant buzz, as it purportedly allows practitioners to enjoy all the so-called benefits while avoiding most of the worst side effects.1

Here, we’ll explore the practice of microdosing LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs for productivity and other therapeutic purposes. If you’re interested in learning about treatment options for hallucinogen use disorder, call Boston Drug Treatment Centers to discuss your options.

What is LSD?

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as “acid”, is a hallucinogenic/psychedelic drug that affects thought patterns, emotional responses, and sensory perception in humans.2 It is broadly similar in effect to psilocybin or hallucinogenic mushrooms, with the main difference being that LSD’s faster onset and ability to boost dopamine levels, something that’s often associated with the development of substance use disorder (SUD).2

The odorless, bitter drug is usually dissolved in a liquid which can be used to saturate paper, tabs, sugar cubes, and other media that could be applied to the tongue or ingested.3 

Physical effects of typical doses include:2,3 

  • Dilated pupils
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeplessness
  • Dry mouth

Psychiatric effects of typical doses include:2,3 

  • Change in depth perception
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Changes in mood
  • Intense emotions
  • Post-trip anxiety and depression

What is LSD Microdosing?

LSD is usually synthesized illegally, and the concentration tends to vary from batch to batch. Generally speaking, however, the typical recreational dose in a tab or saturated sugar cube is in the neighborhood of 100 micrograms — equal to 0.1 milligrams. Microdosing is using amounts lower than 100 micrograms, often 50 milligrams or lower, though this is relative to each individual.2 13 micrograms is the maximum safe microdose put recommended by a 2020 study.6

Typical microdosing for productivity often involves taking small doses every few hours. The idea being that cognition and productivity may be improved continuously by such a practice without risking the negative physical and psychiatric effects of hallucinogens.6,7

What are the Supposed Benefits of Hallucinogen Microdosing?

Recent reviews of the therapeutic uses of LSD and other hallucinogens seem to show promise for a number of psychiatric issues, including substance use disorder. 2,4,5,6 However, because the phenomenon of psychedelic microdosing is fairly new, it may be too early to draw any conclusions about the long-term safety of the practice.

Microdosing studies have shown that LSD and other hallucinogens have significant benefits for the following conditions:2,7

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Nicotine use disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorder

Productivity and cognition improvements were also noted. However, it is not definitively known if this is because respondents had depressive symptoms that were alleviated by LSD microdosing or if the practice improved cognition directly.4,5,6

Is LSD Microdosing Safe?

Given that the practice of hallucinogen microdosing is very recent, more studies and more time may be needed to find out how safe the practice is. Hallucinogen microdosing can be extremely dangerous and can easily lead to serious mental health issues outside of a clinical setting. Additionally, many of the studies that showed promise for therapeutic hallucinogen use are based on self-reporting, which means it is difficult to get accurate data given that hallucinogens alter perception.3,4,5

For the time being, you should refrain from using LSD or any other hallucinogen for treating psychiatric conditions or improving productivity. Given the potency of most black market LSD, getting the low doses used in clinical trials in the real world can be problematic and can easily lead to serious problems.

Get Help for Hallucinogen Use Disorder

While the practice of psychedelic microdosing has shown promise in early studies, the fact is that self-administering any drug without proper supervision can be extremely risky. Additionally, LSD and other commonly-used hallucinogens are also controlled substances with serious known side effects. Attempting LSD or psilocybin microdosing outside of a proper clinical setting can easily result in a hallucinogen use disorder.

If you feel that you or someone close to you has a problem with psychedelic drugs, please get in touch with a qualified mental health professional immediately. If you’re interested in finding a treatment program in Greater Boston that specialized in LSD and other hallucinogens, you can call us at (857) 577-8193 to discuss your options. 

Resources

  1. Yockey, R. A., Vidourek, R. A., & King, K. A. (2020). Trends in LSD use among US adults: 2015-2018. Drug and alcohol dependence212, 108071. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108071

 

  1. Fuentes, J. J., Fonseca, F., Elices, M., Farré, M., & Torrens, M. (2020). Therapeutic use of LSD in psychiatry: a systematic review of randomized-controlled clinical trialsFrontiers in psychiatry10, 943.

 

  1. S. Department of Justice., & U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020, April). Drug Fact Sheet: LSD.

 

  1. Kuypers, K. P., Ng, L., Erritzoe, D., Knudsen, G. M., Nichols, C. D., Nichols, D. E., … & Nutt, D. (2019). Microdosing psychedelics: More questions than answers? An overview and suggestions for future researchJournal of Psychopharmacology33(9), 1039-1057.

 

  1. Anderson, T., Petranker, R., Christopher, A., Rosenbaum, D., Weissman, C., Dinh-Williams, L. A., … & Hapke, E. (2019). Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: an empirical codebookHarm reduction journal16(1), 1-10.

 

  1. Bershad, A. K., Schepers, S. T., Bremmer, M. P., Lee, R., & de Wit, H. (2019). Acute subjective and behavioral effects of microdoses of lysergic acid diethylamide in healthy human volunteersBiological psychiatry86(10), 792-800.

 

  1. DiVito, A. J., & Leger, R. F. (2020). Psychedelics as an emerging novel intervention in the treatment of substance use disorder: a reviewMolecular Biology Reports, 1-9.