The findings from the 2021 Global Drug Survey are in, and for the seventh year in a row, the use of psychedelics is on the rise, this combined with an increase in what is known as ‘microdosing’ with drugs such as LSD and psilocybin, (magic mushrooms) is leading many to call the current attitude towards the drugs a ‘psychedelic renaissance’.
The Global Drug Survey (GDS) 2021 found that one in four people who reported using psychedelics in the past 12 months had done so by ‘microdosing’. Microdosing is where a smaller amount than what one would take to feel the full effects of a psychoactive drug, is administered to aid with everything from concentration, creativity and mood.
Can microdosing psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin help to improve wellbeing and mental health?
Almost half of respondents who had been taking psychiatric medication for their mental health reported that microdosing psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin led to them stopping or reducing this medication. These findings, as GDS stated in their report, suggest that the effects of these drugs in micro-doses may allow people to more effectively manage their mood, but that more research is necessary.
The GDS points out that though microdosing may have worked for some, ‘it can be risky to stop medications suddenly without medical supervision’ and also said that more needs to be done to ‘encourage patients to disclose other approaches to improving their mental health’.
Professor Adam Winstock, the founder and director of the GDS has spoken to The Guardian, saying:
“In the past people were using microdosing for performance enhancement and creativity…Now, I think people are shifting towards using microdosing to enhance wellbeing and to address mental health distress.”
GDS added that they suspect this mode of administering psychedelics may be easier to incorporate into psychiatric practices rather than, what they call ‘high dose assisted therapy’. GDS notes that this mode requires extensive training, supervision and can be a lengthy process. However, recent research into the use of DMT in psychedelic-assisted therapy by Small Pharma suggests that an assisted therapy session with DMT could only take up to two hours to be effective.
- See also: 'Small Pharma’s first phase clinical trials prove promising for DMT-assisted therapy'
- See also: 'Psilocybin found to 'repair' neural connections in mammalian brain'
- See also: 'Psilocybin, depression and a new era of treatment'
In the results for the GDS 2021, of those who had microdosed LSD or psilocybin (3000 respondents for each), 50% had only microdosed and the other 50% had also recently taken full doses. GDS note that of those who had recently taken full doses too, experimentation with a wide range of psychedelics in microdose form was present.
“This, for me, is microdosing shifting into treating mental health.” Professor Winstock said
GDS said ‘Regardless of the psychedelic used, they appear to be remarkably well tolerated by the vast majority’, reflecting some of what Dr Carol Routledge of Small Pharma spoke to us about in our interview on their Phase I DMT trials.
There were of course, exceptions. 10% reported unwanted physical or psychological effects, these experiences seemed to be mostly as a result of dosage, frequency or ‘timing of dosing’, with GDS saying ‘all of which are potentially negated by tweaking the pattern of use.’
GDS mentioned their interested in how psychedelics might ‘improve mental health and wellbeing’ and that ‘Clinical trials are yet to determine whether microdosing psychedelics for mental health treatment is indeed effective’, but that they ‘look forward to future such trials – both of normal and micro-doses.’
These findings echo much of what has been discussed before, that psychedelics could be a key element of the treatment of mental illness moving forward, but that there are currently so many unknown variables in people’s experiences and the effectiveness of drugs such as LSD, DMT or psilocybin when compared to traditional anti-depressants.
You can take part in the GDS 2022, here.