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Is microdosing at work about to become the new norm?

For most of recent history, people have viewed drugs as dangerous and counterproductive to humanity’s success. With some of the world’s most successful people admitting to microdosing at work, could that change?

For years, there have been whispers of employees of Silicon Valley taking psychedelics to come up with new features for our favourite bits of technology including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Even Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, attributed some of his major strokes of genius to taking LSD during his formative years. He publicly labelled his experiences with LSD as, ‘one of the most important things in my life.’

In recent days, Elon Musk has admitted to using ketamine to treat his depression. He also hinted at the use of other substances while on the job. Measuring his personal drug use against his professional success, Musk suggested there’s no reason for him to stop microdosing, so as long as his numerous businesses are doing well.

But it’s not just the world’s biggest tech moguls experimenting with drugs while on the clock. Dubbed ‘The Shroom Boom,’ workers in creative industries and start-ups across the globe have turned to microdosing to bolster their advantage when it comes to innovation.

With the benefits of certain drugs being touted by highly successful individuals and the stigma towards them dwindling day by day, could microdosing at work become the norm?


Reframing the narrative around drug use

Though drugs have historically been used for recreational purposes only, advocates for supplementing with psychedelics like mushrooms and LSD say the motivation behind their use is not rooted in getting high at work.

‘If you’re feeling something, then you’ve probably done too much,’ is generally the main advice they purport. Instead, the idea is to continue taking very small amounts or ‘microdoses’ throughout the day so that their effects are subtle.

Specifically speaking, microdosing involves taking about one-tenth of a normal dose, which is just enough to spark creativity, focus, and productivity at work but not enough to result in intense physical or psychological sensations.

With proper dosage amounts, many entrepreneurs and executives report feeling alert, creative, and less stressed while on the job. Others say it helps them manage and lead employees with more empathy and understanding, leading to better bonds between team members.

They liken taking small amounts of mushrooms or LSD to having a cigarette or cup of coffee at work. Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants which help with alertness, mood, concentration, and lulls in energy. Their use is also highly normalised in society and the workplace.

Still, while the effects of caffeine and nicotine are well-studied, scientific research and clinical trials related to microdosing are lacking.

Looking at the sparse data

In early experiments, results on the benefits and disadvantages of microdosing are mixed.

Some have even shown that ingesting extremely small doses of certain drugs could ultimately lead to nothing more than a placebo effect.

In one of the largest studies to date, 191 participants were divided into two groups and recruited to describe their experiences with microdosing for 4 weeks. What participants didn’t know was that one group was given small doses of psychedelics while the other was given placebo doses.

Interestingly, both groups showed psychological improvements and self-reported a greater feeling of well-being by the end of four weeks. Researchers reported no discernible differences between either of the groups, supporting the placebo effect hypothesis.

Outside of controlled research groups though, most individuals will be managing doses themselves leading outcomes to look quite different. It’s also worth noting that some drugs – such as mushrooms and LSD –  may naturally or mistakenly contain more concentrated doses than previous batches.

As attitudes towards psychedelic drugs shift and more knowledge is garnered about the benefits of using them at work, it’s highly possible that microdosing could become mainstream in the near future.

Until then, it will be up to individuals to ensure they are maintaining the balance between tripping balls in the break room or having a genius breakthrough on a complicated project.