beginningstreatment Psychedelic Microdosing and Sobriety photo of a Young girl addicted to drugs with hallucinationsPsychedelics are increasingly used in research for medical purposes ranging from treating seizures to helping individuals recover from substance use disorders. If you’re in recovery and interested in that research, there’s a lot to learn, and for good reason. Most modern research into psychedelics for medical purposes is relatively recent and still in the early stages of discovery. Most-often, even experts are still learning about psychedelics, their uses, and their potential.

At the same time, the practice of microdosing psychedelics to treat or cure problems ranging from depression to cancer has received immense media attention. Most Americans are aware of the possibilities. That’s important if you’re considering experimenting for yourself, especially if you’re already in recovery from an addiction to another substance. Learning about microdosing, its possible benefits, and its possible risks is crucial before you take those steps for yourself.

What is Microdosing?

Microdosing is the process of taking less than a full dose (defined as resulting in active effects) of a drug in an effort to create an effect without inducing a psychedelic response. This is often about 1/10th of the dose required to create an active response, although the defined volume of the dose typically varies a great deal depending on the drug, the experimenting body, and the desired effect.

People microdose for a variety of reasons and have done so throughout history:

  • Creativity – Psychedelics have always been used to enhance creativity and microdosing is considered to be a safer way to do so. With no “active high” period, microdosing allows individuals to experience and attempt to benefit from psychedelics with fewer risks.

  • Focus – Psychedelics such as LSD are often microdosed to increase focus, with some studies showing as much as 14.8% increase in focus. This has led to an increasing usage of psychedelics as study drugs, with students attempting to microdose before tests to improve performance.

  • Anti-depression – Psychedelics have often been used to treat depression, and results are promising. Some studies indicate an 26.6% increase in mood in response to daily microdosing of drugs like Psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic” mushrooms. These findings have been backed up by numerous studies, each tracking the potential of drugs like Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, and LSD to treat even drug-resistant depression in patients.

  • Anti-anxiety – Some studies suggest microdosing as an anxiety treatment. However, many studies urge against this, as psychedelics often exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and can cause it in many individuals.

  • Addiction – Microdosing is increasingly looked at as an alternative to completely stopping drugs. Individuals switch to psychedelic microdosing to quit another drug while alleviating cravings, reducing side-effects, and sometimes reducing the withdrawal phase. This is especially common with alcohol withdrawal, where individuals typically switch to microdosing in an effort to reduce cravings and reduce potentially dangerous seizures.

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Does Microdosing Psychedelics Work?

Microdosing is incredibly popular right now, with even Reddit pages on microdosing garnering tens of thousands of followers. Most of this attention comes from the fact that microdosing presents a relatively painless and simple way to cure problems, treat disorders, and potentially step out from under an addiction. However, the key thing to keep in mind about microdosing research is that it is just research. Most of it is very promising, but it’s still in the early stages of development.

In some cases, it’s also important to question the validity of research projects. One study claiming that individuals taking a daily dose of ayahuasca experienced significant wellbeing over those who did not was conducted via self-survey, over the Internet with no follow-up or validation mechanisms in place.

However, most research into microdosing is qualitative, conducted with placebo test groups, and typically in blind trials. This research is promising, with indications of both positive effects and negative side-effects, as could be expected from taking any medication.

At the same time, we simply don’t have enough research on the long-term effects of microdosing psychedelics to use it as treatment for addiction. Most psychedelics are controlled substances, meaning they are difficult to acquire and study legally. Trials have to go through extensive lengths for approval, subject matter, and test subjects. Their research is therefore often limited in scope due to additional expense and government-placed regulations. Therefore, moving microdosing research to a stage where it can be used by western medicine will be long and slow.

Is it Safe to Microdose in Recovery?

beginningstreatment Psychedelic Microdosing and Sobriety photo of a woman consulting a psychologistWhether you’re struggling with a dual diagnosis disorder such as depression, want to microdose to treat cravings, or want to microdose for another reason, you probably shouldn’t. Microdosing is still an experimental research and anything you do with it will amount to self-medication. This is important for a few reasons, largely relating to addiction, your potential to become addicted again, and your lack of ability to manage long-term dosing.

Here, it’s also important to consider that persons recovering from a substance use disorder are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. Long-term psychedelic use, even microdosing, is known to increase anxiety and may put vulnerable parties at risk. Persons with anxiety might trigger worsening symptoms, panic attacks, or paranoia while microdosing.

Self-medication is the process of using a substance to make yourself feel better, to help yourself cope, or otherwise to manage something. This “something” can be pain, stress, an event, or trauma. The important part is that you start drinking, using medication, or engaging in an activity to nullify it. When the “something” doesn’t go away, this often leads to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. In fact, self-medication is a driving factor in many cases of addiction. While most psychedelic drugs are not addictive or not very addictive, reinforcing behaviors leading to addiction will not help you to remain sober. Instead, they may reinforce those behaviors until you either increase the dose to get more effect or go back to something that you know works.

Of course, microdosing won’t necessarily lead to anxiety or relapse. It can though, and without medical monitoring, is actually very likely for some individuals. As a result, the best course of action is to proceed with caution, treat microdosing like you would any other medication, and not move into it without consulting your doctor or physician. In most cases, it’s not recommended to start using a new substance if you’re already in recovery, simply because doing so can exacerbate issues and may result in relapse.

The field of psychedelic microdosing is a promising one. New studies show that psychedelics may help individuals to cope with depression, pain, addiction, and numerous other disorders. At the same time, this research is largely in an early stage, we don’t yet know enough about psychedelics for them to be used for medical purposes, and it is important to exercise caution should you or a loved one attempt to move forward with doing so.

Please contact Beginnings Treatment Centers today for an honest talk about addiction or alcoholism with one of our experienced and professional addiction treatment team. We can answer any questions you may have with no cost or obligation.