The world is becoming a trippier place — one microdose at a time.
The 2021 Global Drug Survey published this week found that a lot more people are getting a little high through microdosing, a practice involving taking small amounts of LSD or other psychedelics for alleged therapeutic benefits.
Data showed that one in four who had used psychedelics in the last 12 months during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic reported that they were microdosing. Of them, three-quarters reported no adverse side effects.
“In the past, people were using microdosing for performance enhancement and creativity,” the survey’s founder and director, Professor Adam Winstock, told the Guardian. “Now, I think people are shifting toward using microdosing to enhance well-being and to address mental health distress.”
Of course, the pandemic has sent shockwaves of stress around the world, for which many are seeking out remedies. Winstock believes that the increasing popularity of microdosing isn’t to follow trends with the celebrity world, as notables such as Mike Tyson and Silicon Valley billionaires have discussed the “life-changing” positives.
Rather, Winstock attributes the increase in microdose experimentation as a direct link to the increased waiting times for mental health services along with shifting attitudes about the possibilities of using drugs as treatment. In fact, previous studies have correlated the increased use of hallucinogens and their mental health-helping qualities with a perception that “the world’s on fire.”
The survey also found one shocking statistic associated with microdosing: Nearly half of individuals who did small amounts of LSD and magic mushrooms (psilocybin) in the past year reduced or stopped taking medications for their mental health as a result.
“Of the approximately 20% of microdosers who were in receipt of medications for their mental health, approximately one quarter reported stopping their medications altogether and another quarter reducing their dose or frequency of use,” states the annual assessment, which surveys over 32,000 people from over 20 countries about their drug habits.
Survey authors said that the findings “may indicate that some people with mental health issues gain significant relief from microdosing psychedelics,” but they advise that stopping psychiatric medications can have negative outcomes and “should not be done without medical supervision.” However, they also “look forward to such future trials” regarding the effectiveness of microdosing psychedelics as mental health treatment.
Beyond those taking tiny amounts, psychedelic drug use overall is on the rise. The survey found that people are dabbling in more hallucinogens in general, from ketamine to LSD to, shockingly, even whippets. The number of people reporting they’ve done hallucinogens has increased significantly over the last seven years, the survey found.
“Psychedelics are on the rise globally,” survey writers neatly state, along with a graph displaying how drugs like DMT, ketamine, LSD, magic mushrooms, MDMA, the research chemical 2-CB and nitrous oxide have all increased in reported use by leaps and bounds over the past decade.
And it appears microdosing could be a gateway drug of sorts, since about a third of those who microdosed with LSD or magic mushrooms also reported trying other substances like ecstasy (MDMA), ketamine and ayahuasca.
As for the two most popular drugs used by respondents in the last year? Cannabis/THC came in second place, with 57%, while alcohol took the top spot at 93%.
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