Microdosing and Mental Health: A Healing Journey or Bad Trip?

An emerging treatment method for mental health disorders called “microdosing” may alter ones perspective about psychedelic drugs. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it gives everyone the opportunity to talk more about mental health disorders and how to help those struggling.

Microdosing is when a person ingests a very small amount of a psychedelic substance. The most common psychedelic substances used are lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and mushrooms containing psilocybin.1

To gain the alleged positive effects without the intense psychedelic experience they ingest doses as small as 1/20 the normal dose. A micro-dose for dried psilocybin mushrooms might be .1 to .5 grams and a micro-dose of LSD might be anywhere from 6 to 25 micrograms. Some people take a micro-dose every day, while a more typical schedule is every three days with “rest days” in between doses. The reason for the rest days, some believe there may be an effect that lasts 1-2 days after each micro-dose is ingested.1

So, what are the supposed positive effects of microdosing and how is it related to mental health? Some individuals use micro-dosing to enhance performance in the workplace2, while others have found it to reduce anxiety and depression.3 Studies are currently being conducted on the effect of microdosing on depression in cancer patients where micro-dosing is closely monitored and accompanied by therapy sessions. Although it is gaining more popularity in recent years, there is currently not a lot of research conducted on micro-dosing, and current studies contradict each other on the possible benefits and negatives.

Microdosing Dangers

It is difficult to predict how the body and mind will react to psychedelic substances. More research has been conducted on psychedelics taken at higher doses. Negative side effects of taking LSD and mushrooms can include1,4:

  • Disturbances with perception.
  • Negative emotions.
  • Psychotic symptoms.
  • Bad trips (becoming very fearful or paranoid while the drug is in your system).
  • Continued flashbacks to bad trips after the drug has worn off.

Some people reported feeling increased anxiety while others experience decreased anxiety during microdose sessions. Others felt relief, some feel increased irritability, and some feel both depending on the day.3 Overall, the benefits of micro-dosing on mental health are still inconclusive. However, a lot of research has gone into treating mental health in drug & alcohol rehab programs.

Finding Treatment for Drug Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

Oftentimes individuals with drug and alcohol addiction also suffer from a mental health disorder, like anxiety or depression. When an individual has both, it is called a co-occurring disorder.5 Oxford Treatment Center, located in Mississippi, offers an integrated treatment approach for co-occurring disorders. Unlike microdosing, which does not yet have a lot of scientific backing behind it, Oxford utilizes well-known evidence-based therapies for addiction treatment including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has been found to be effective in treating both mental disorders and substance abuse disorders.

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