You are engaged in the microdosing of psychedelics. What does that mean?
Microdosing psychedelics is at the act of consuming about 1/10th of a regular dose of a psychedelic, typically on a 2x per week basis. The effects are visually sub-perceptible, and for many people produce a slightly increased sense of touch and smell, more energy, and improved focus and creativity. In June 2015, I microdosed with LSD for 7 months, consuming a sub-perceptible amount of LSD 2x per week. From my initial microdosing experiment, I noticed an improvement in my ability to focus (flow states) and relate to other people (reduction of social anxiety). My current role in the microdosing world is as a public speaker, educator, and advocate for research and utilization.

In concrete terms: When does microdosing help and when not?
Whether or not microdosing helps depends on the context in which it is used and the individual using it. Microdoses of psychedelics, just like high doses of psychedelics, are non-specific amplifiers, so the impact of microdosing is informed by the intention one has in consuming. There are two main reasons people microdose: to enhance their overall well-being and to address some sort of deficit, like depression or addiction. Preliminary data shows that microdosing has an antidepressant effect and helps with energy levels and creativity. Microdosing does not consistently help with general anxiety, as it can make the individual more anxious.

How well established is micro-dosing already?
Currently, 60 000 new people visit The Third Wave every month to learn about microdosing. Random House, the largest trade publisher in the world, published a book on microdosing in January 2017, and major media publications like the New York Times, the Economist, and Wired have published long-form pieces both in print and online. Jim Fadiman, the godfather of microdosing, has collected over 1600 reports for his initial study on the efficacy of microdosing that he presented at Psychedelic Science in April 2017. Because of the cultural stigma that still exists around psychedelics, microdosing is not yet ‘mainstream’. However, its popularity will only continue to grow due to its seeming effectiveness in a variety of areas.

In which situations would a macro dosage be more appropriate?
This is a big topic with a lot of active research. Studies indicate that, say,  for treatment-resistant depression, or other disorders resistant to modern treatment programs, like addiction, macrodoses of psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin are very promising. Like with cannabis, there are a lot of people self-medicating or getting underground treatment that is effective--it’s just that our institutions have yet to catch up and validate these tools. But that in of itself is a hurdle, because psychedelics in larger dosages are difficult to place in our current pharmaceutical model, being off-patent, and needing day-long, on-site assistance from a qualified guide.  

There's something wicked about drugs: loss of control, border crossing. Why is the trend towards microdosing emerging right now?
From a cultural perspective, the re-evaluation of cannabis combined with psychedelic research from prestigious institutions has led to a more objective dialogue around the potential usefulness of previously illicit substances.

For this reason, the trend towards microdosing is emerging because Western culture has begun to recognize that the ego’s stranglehold on our consciousness (the ‘need’ to ‘control’) is, in fact, responsible for much of the suffering people experience in the modern Western world. In recognizing this, we’re creating workspaces that place less responsibility on the individual’s place of power within a hierarchical structure, instead shifting the focus to teams that utilize collaborative and decentralized models. As our world becomes an increasingly chaotic place, the creative teams that thrive will be those who can adapt the quickest. Substances that are proven to aid adaptability (like psychedelics), and thus think outside of rigid preconceptions (divergent thinking), will be increasingly used in next generation workplaces.

While the counter-culture use of psychedelics was about rebellion, today's use seems to support the predominant economic requirement of efficiency. Is this a good thing?
From my perspective, people in workplaces consuming LSD is representative of a shift in priorities and belief systems. The future of work will be less about ‘getting things done’, as rote-thinking tasks are delegated to AI and other forms of automation, and more about using ‘working-time’ in an effective and efficient manner so one can enjoy the leisurely benefits of living in the Western world in 2017. Microdosing LSD represents a reversion back towards an optimised work-life balance where creative work is amplified through pharmacological means. Additionally, while microdosing can make you more effective at your current job, it often catalyzes reflection that can lead to a desire to change your occupation in a more meaningful direction, how you execute on the demands of your work, and how you view your identity in relationship to your professional life.

Today, we use drugs for self-optimisation. What's coming tomorrow?
Well, we’ve always used drugs for self-optimisation within the industrial workplace. The foremost of these are caffeine and tobacco not to mention stimulants like Adderall and “nootropics”. What will likely be the future, from a pharmacological perspective, is the increased use of substances that encourage divergent thinking, as creativity, innovation, and complex problem solving will be held in high reverence in our future workplace.  Psychedelics are currently stigmatized, in large part, because they threaten the existing centralized hierarchy of our industrial society. Microdosing will act as a wedge to destigmatize, and thus legitimize, psychedelics substances, which will help our global society transition from the Industrial Age into the Information Age.

Paul Austin is the founder of the information platform for psychedelics "The Third Wave". It collects and disseminates the latest research results on the use of micro-dosing of LSD, psylocibine and other psychoactive substances in the working world. On 14 March he will be speaking at the 14th European Trend Day "Super You: The Growing Self-Optimisation Market" at the GDI.