People ‘microdosing’ psychedelics to improve wellbeing during pandemic, drug survey finds
Global Drug Survey founder says people turning to method ‘to address mental health distress’
People have been “microdosing” psychedelics in an attempt to boost their mental health during the pandemic, a global drug study has suggested.
The method of taking small amounts of recreational drugs was made famous by tech workers in Silicon Valley, who claimed the approach stimulated creativity and improved their performance at work.
But now others are increasingly turning to the strategy to self-medicate, according to Adam Winstock, the founder of the Global Drug Survey (GDS).
“In the past people were using microdosing for performance enhancement and creativity,” he told The Guardian.
“Now, I think people are shifting towards using microdosing to enhance wellbeing and to address mental health distress.”
This year’s GDS poll, which was conducted from December 2020 to March 2021, found that 22 per cent of people who used psychedelics – such as LSD and magic mushrooms – had microdosed.
Of this group, half only microdosed while the other half also took full doses.
Although most of those microdosing reported no side effects, 10 per cent had undesired mental effects and 8 per cent had unwanted physical effects.
Of the roughly 20 per cent of microdosers who took medication to treat their mental health, one in four stopped taking their prescribed psychiatric medicine and another quarter reduced their dosage.
“Clinical trials are yet to determine whether microdosing psychedelics for mental health treatment is indeed effective, but we look forward to such future trials – both of normal and of micro-doses,” the authors of the GDS report said.
Researchers at Imperial College London have previously suggested that reports of boosted wellbeing from psychedelic microdosing could be caused by a placebo effect.
Dr David Erritzoe, who runs the university’s Centre for Psychedelic Research, said more trials were needed to determine whether the practice was beneficial to people’s wellbeing.
The 2021 GDS survey, which had 3,000 respondents, found that the use of psychedelics is on the rise and is noticeably higher than levels seen in 2015.