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Powerful substances in tiny amounts: Exploring the practice of microdosing psychedelic drugs

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Introduction: This paper reports results from a preliminary observational study of ayahuasca-assisted treatment for problematic substance use and stress delivered in a rural First Nations community in British Columbia, Canada. Methods: The "Working with Addiction and Stress" retreats combined four days of group counselling with two expert-led ayahuasca ceremonies. This study collected pre-treatment and six months follow-up data from 12 participants on several psychological and behavioral factors related to problematic substance use, and qualitative data assessing the personal experiences of the participants six months after the retreat. Findings: Statistically significant (p < 0.05) improvements were demonstrated for scales assessing hopefulness, empowerment, mindfulness, and quality of life meaning and outlook subscales. Self-reported alcohol, tobacco and cocaine use declined, although cannabis and opiate use did not; reported reductions in problematic cocaine use were statistically significant. All study participants reported positive and lasting changes from participating in the retreats. Conclusions: This form of ayahuasca-assisted therapy appears to be associated with statistically significant improvements in several factors related to problematic substance use among a rural aboriginal population. These findings suggest participants may have experienced positive psychological and behavioral changes in response to this therapeutic approach, and that more rigorous research of ayahuasca-assisted therapy for problematic substance use is warranted.
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Developing methods for improving creativity is of broad interest. Classic psychedelics may enhance creativity; however, the underlying mechanisms of action are unknown. This study was designed to assess whether a relationship exists between naturalistic classic psychedelic use and heightened creative problem-solving ability and if so, whether this is mediated by lifetime mystical experience. Participants (N = 68) completed a survey battery assessing lifetime mystical experience and circumstances surrounding the most memorable experience. They were then administered a functional fixedness task in which faster completion times indicate greater creative problem-solving ability. Participants reporting classic psychedelic use concurrent with mystical experience (n = 11) exhibited significantly faster times on the functional fixedness task (Cohen’s d = –.87; large effect) and significantly greater lifetime mystical experience (Cohen’s d = .93; large effect) than participants not reporting classic psychedelic use concurrent with mystical experience. However, lifetime mystical experience was unrelated to completion times on the functional fixedness task (standardized β = –.06), and was therefore not a significant mediator. Classic psychedelic use may increase creativity independent of its effects on mystical experience. Maximizing the likelihood of mystical experience may need not be a goal of psychedelic interventions designed to boost creativity.
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The classical serotonergic psychedelics LSD, psilocybin, mescaline are not known to cause brain damage and are regarded as non-addictive. Clinical studies do not suggest that psychedelics cause long-term mental health problems. Psychedelics have been used in the Americas for thousands of years. Over 30 million people currently living in the US have used LSD, psilocybin, or mescaline. To evaluate the association between the lifetime use of psychedelics and current mental health in the adult population. Data drawn from years 2001 to 2004 of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health consisted of 130,152 respondents, randomly selected to be representative of the adult population in the United States. Standardized screening measures for past year mental health included serious psychological distress (K6 scale), mental health treatment (inpatient, outpatient, medication, needed but did not receive), symptoms of eight psychiatric disorders (panic disorder, major depressive episode, mania, social phobia, general anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and non-affective psychosis), and seven specific symptoms of non-affective psychosis. We calculated weighted odds ratios by multivariate logistic regression controlling for a range of sociodemographic variables, use of illicit drugs, risk taking behavior, and exposure to traumatic events. 21,967 respondents (13.4% weighted) reported lifetime psychedelic use. There were no significant associations between lifetime use of any psychedelics, lifetime use of specific psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, peyote), or past year use of LSD and increased rate of any of the mental health outcomes. Rather, in several cases psychedelic use was associated with lower rate of mental health problems. We did not find use of psychedelics to be an independent risk factor for mental health problems.
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This study used a web-based questionnaire to investigate user perceptions of the benefits and harms of hallucinogenic drug use. Over 600 forms were submitted. Users were asked to comment on the acute and prolonged effects of different drugs and to provide more specific information on how particular drugs have harmed and/or helped them. Subjects reported relatively less harm associated with the classic hallucinogens, LSD and psilocybin, than other drugs specifically focused on in the questionnaire (MDMA, cannabis, ketamine and alcohol). A wide-range of benefits was reported, including: help with mood disorders, addictions and migraine as well as more general long-term improvements in wellbeing. Symptoms of hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder were reported by a number of subjects and these were most closely associated with use of LSD; however, few users regarded these effects as troubling. Eighty-one per cent of users reported having had a ‘spiritual experience’ on a hallucinogenic drug and over 90% considered ‘access to the unconscious mind’ to be a specific property of the classic hallucinogens. With caution, these findings support recent calls for a systematic investigation of the therapeutic potential of the classic hallucinogens and highlight the scope for empirical investigations of spiritual and psychodynamic phenomena.
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This article summarizes findings from studies that employed electronic mail (e-mail) for conducting indepth interviewing. It discusses the benefits of, and the challenges associated with, using e-mail interviewing in qualitative research. The article concludes that while a mixed mode interviewing strategy should be considered when possible, e-mail interviewing can be in many cases a viable alternative to face-to-face and telephone interviewing. A list of recommendations for carrying out effective e-mail interviews is presented.
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Cognitive enhancement can benefit the individual and society, but also has associated risks and ethical concerns. Cognitive-enhancing drugs are used in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Nonpharmacological strategies are also emerging, which have the potential to improve motivational deficits associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms and should be prioritized for development. The increasing lifestyle use of “smart” and other drugs indicates the desire for healthy people to improve themselves. Safety and ethical implications are discussed.
Would you take LSD to give you a boost at work? WIRED takes a trip inside the world of microdosing
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