What is Microdosing All About?

A newfangled alternative to antidepressants? Or an overhyped trend with worrying side effects? We explore.

Is it all a load of hype?

Microdosing is where people take tiny amounts of psychedelic drugs like LSD or magic mushrooms on a daily basis. Because the amount is so small, people don’t get high. But some people who microdose on a regular basis say they feel happier and mentally clearer. It’s because of this that many people are turning to microdosing as an alternative to antidepressants. So what does the research say about microdosing? How safe is it? And is it legal?

Why do people microdose?

Most people who try microdosing for the first time are struggling with depression or other mental health problems. According to users, it makes them feel healthier and happier. Because the dose is so small (a tenth of a normal dose), the effects are subtle and there’s no worry about tripping balls while you go about your day. Other reasons why people microdose:

  • An alternative to antidepressants. While antidepressants are often very effective in treating depression, they’re not without side effects. Some people taking antidepressants report feeling groggy or flat or unable to experience the highs of life like they used to. Microdosing in contrast, claims to lift depression without classic side effects or post-med comedowns.
  • To increase creativity and productivity. Microdosing became the buzzword it is today due to young professionals – particularly those working for fancy tech startups in Silicon Valley – using microdosing to boost their brain power. According to them, microdosing helps them keep a clear head, work harder and think more creatively.  
  • To manage behavioural disorders such as ADHD. A small group of people with ADHD have claimed microdosing has enabled them to come off their medication. Again, classic ADHD medication can have a numbing effect leaving people feeling like they’ve lost their personality. In contrast, microdosing supposedly helps people with ADHD focus without affecting their personality.

So, what’s the catch?

We know right, microdosing sounds pretty idyllic so far, doesn’t it? So why isn’t everyone at it? Well…

  • It’s illegal. Although microdosing doesn’t get you high, it’s still illegal. That’s because the drugs used to microdose are Class A drugs. If you’re caught buying, selling or in possession of these drugs, you could get in a lot of trouble. Read our article on what happens if you’re caught with drugs.
  • It can make anxiety worse. While microdosing has been shown (anecdotally) to improve depression, it can also, reportedly, make anxiety worse. If you are someone who already deals with anxiety, microdosing is not advisable.
  • No one knows how safe it is. Although there are tonnes of people online who claim microdosing has changed their lives for the better, there is currently zero scientific evidence that microdosing is as fantastic as people say. This means no one currently knows how safe it is, why it works, whether it’s addictive, whether it affects your brain in the long-term or how long-lasting the positive effects are. 

I want to try microdosing

Because of the reasons above, we wouldn’t recommend microdosing. The main reason we don’t recommend it, is that your brain is a precious thing you don’t want to go messing with. Until we know the long-term effects of microdosing, it’s not a risk worth taking. Having said that, there are trials going on at the moment into microdosing and who knows – perhaps in the future you’ll visit your GP for LSD on prescription.  

Next Steps

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Updated on 25-Apr-2019

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