Microdosing - All You Need to Know About This Dangerous Fad
Indian techies and executives are catching on to the latest trend of microdosing.
Indian techies and executives are catching on to the latest trend of microdosing.(Photo: Arnica Kala/FIT)

Microdosing - All You Need to Know About This Dangerous Fad

Indian techies and executives are catching on to the latest trend of microdosing, which arrived here primarily from the Silicon Valley. Simply put, it is the act of ingesting drugs to shoot up your creativity, energy and concentration - or so claim the proponents of this practice.

It refers to the act of taking drugs which are just sufficient to get the mind stimulated, but not enough to give you a high or a ‘trip’.

Microdosing involves taking small amounts (10 microgram) of LSD (lusergic acid diethylamide) or magic mushrooms (0.2-0.5 grams), both illegal drugs. This is followed by going a few days without it, until the user takes another dose of it.

Microdosing involves taking small amounts of LSD or mushrooms magic mushrooms.
Microdosing involves taking small amounts of LSD or mushrooms magic mushrooms.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Too caught up to read? Listen to the story here:

Noting the prevalence of this practice in India, Mumbai based psychiatrist Dr Yusuf Merchant affirms:

Microdosing is a phenomenon that gained prevalence in India about five years ago, wherein users take micro-doses of hallucinogens like LSD and magic mushrooms in sub-perceptual doses to increase alertness and awareness.

Also Read : ‘Replace Addiction With Connection’: Dr Yusuf Merchant on Drugs

He further adds:

LSD is available as a dot on blotting paper. Users put the paper in 100 ml of water- and drink 10 ml per day. It is being used by depressives, anxious people and those suffering from attention deficit syndromes and disorders. Strangely enough it’s side effects are the same - anxiety and depression.

Drugs and Techies

The practice of taking one or another form of drugs by techies and students in university campuses has been around for a while with Adderall (often prescribed in case of Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Ritalin often being the primary choices. They help professionals increase focus and creativity well into their sleep hours, but with their own set of side-affects in the form of anxiety, nervousness, feelings of being burned out and sometimes even depression.

 Since the substances involved are illegal, no extensive studies have been conducted in this specific field.
Since the substances involved are illegal, no extensive studies have been conducted in this specific field.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

When it comes to microdosing, however, the lack of formal research and data does not reveal much in the form of its side-effects. Since the substances involved are illegal, no extensive studies have been conducted in this specific field. Those who have tried microdosing continue to swear by its benefits - helping them stay calm, focused and controlling their moods. Several often compare it to a feeling of energy as is experienced after a cup of coffee, a good night’s sleep or being well-rested.

Dr Merchant, on the other hand, disagrees. He tells us about a young Indian who worked in Silicon Valley. The doctor describes him as a “genius in his mid-twenties”. He was heading a start-up, but only after three months of microdosing, he went into psychosis. He is currently under treatment.
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Let’s Talk LSD

Though different bodies respond differently to a drug, broadly speaking, LSD’s effects include hallucinations in the form of alterations of the reality of the user. The proportions of their own bodies or the objects around them might change drastically as part of their visual experience.

Swiss researcher Albert Hofmann first synthesised LSD in 1938, microdosed on the drug for decades.
Swiss researcher Albert Hofmann first synthesised LSD in 1938, microdosed on the drug for decades.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Swiss researcher Albert Hofmann, who first synthesised LSD in 1938, microdosed on the drug for decades and died at the age of 102, points out Ayelet Waldman in her book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, as reported by Marie Claire. According to the same report, Waldman wrote her book in a month.

Similar to other hallucinogens, LSD produces the chemical serotonin which is associated with mood control, and also explains the strong alteration of perception of reality.

Some famous techie names who are known to have experimented with LSD include Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Jobs has spoken to his biographer Walter Isaacson about how it helped fuel his creativity.

Also Read : Looking At ‘Study Drugs’ as a Way Out? DON’T

A Divided Jury

Health experts, similar to Dr Merchant, view the positive effects of microdosing as being speculative, or even detrimental.

I personally believe that it may benefit people temporarily, but will boomerang in the long run. A depressed person will temporarily be out of his depression whilst on the high - but will invariably return to a heavier depression once the effect of the micro dose is over.
Dr Yusuf Merchant
The lack of research is one of the primary factors for the conclusion.
The lack of research is one of the primary factors for the conclusion.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The lack of research is one of the primary factors for the conclusion. Besides, the practice of self-administering drugs cannot be trusted. Neither can there be a way to determine the quality or potency of the drug.

There is no longitudinal study conducted on microdosing. It’s self prescribed and popular due to short term benefits. I would not recommend the same.
Dr Yusuf Merchant

Another danger of LSD is what experts call “flashbacks” which means even months or years after the usage of the drug, the user can experience the its effects again, according to the American Addiction Centres. These effects might just turn up without any prior symptoms and can be either positive or negative.

However, contrary to Dr Merchant’s observations, a recent study suggests that there is no connection between psychedelic drugs like LSD and psychosis.

While the jury continues to be divided on microdosing and its effects - here’s a (not so) subtle reminder that LSD is banned in our country and no drug should be consumed in any form without medical guidance and supervision.

If you live in the US, this resource on low cost or free de addiction centres can be of help.

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