Silicon Valley professionals are micro-dosing LSD at work to gain “superhuman” creativity


Silicon Valley professionals have turned to an unlikely drug to boost their creativity, enhance performance and climb the ladder of success: LSD. Their method is simple, and far from getting stoned at work—though its usage is kept mostly underground for obvious reasons. And according to American psychologist James Fadiman, micro-dosing with psychedelics could be an effective replacement for drugs like Adderall, which are frequently abused in high-stress tech fields like programming. But are people really achieving “seemingly superhuman strengths,” as Forbes contributor, Will Burns puts it?

Rolling Stone recently published an article detailing the experience of a 25 year old, with a master’s degree from Stanford who “works for a tech startup in San Francisco,” and has reportedly achieved significant results from micro-dosing. “Microdosing has helped me come up with some new designs to explore and new ways of thinking. You would be surprised at how many people are actually doing it.” He told Rolling Stone.

This article has been gaining quite a bit of attention, and for good reason. There have been a number of similar reports where users describe incredible benefits from their experiences in micro-dosing. The Telegraph, for example, describes the experience of Canadian filmmaker, John Andrew, who spoke at a conference in New York last month and stated, “I experienced this clarity that is almost indescribable…I felt a homeostasis, a feeling that despite what’s going on, bad or good, everything was OK.”

Leading the micro-dosage movement is Fadiman, who has been exploring the potential benefits of psychedelics since the 1960s, when LSD testing was still being administered by the U.S. government. According to Fadiman, a dose of 10 micrograms of LSD will suffice, constituting one tenth of an average dose (i.e. a trippy weekend of camping with your friends). His prescription is to take the drug every four days, in the morning before you start your day’s work. As founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Rick Doblin, explains to Rolling Stone, micro-dosing means “[enough] to feel a little bit of energy lift, a little bit of insight, but not so much that you are tripping.”

Due to government sanctions, Fadiman is unable to continue legal research on the matter, but has side-stepped the legal process by sending out a request for users to submit ongoing and detailed micro-dosing trip reports. “What many people are reporting is, at the end of the day, they say, ‘That was a really good day.’ You know, that kind of day when things kind of work. You’re doing a task you normally couldn’t stand for two hours, but you do it for three or four. You eat properly. Maybe you do one more set of reps. Just a good day. That seems to be what we’re discovering.” James Fadiman said last year at the Horizons psychedelic quorum in New York City.

So far, the research has been overwhelmingly positive. But some are still skeptical, and potential negative health affects that have been introduced by those like Dr. Robert Glatter, another Forbes contributor. His perspective is that LSD, like most substances (Adderall, energy drinks or otherwise) are not the solution to enhancing creativity. He also describes the negative effects LSD can have on pregnant women and those currently taking medications like SSRIs for depression. His third argument is that LSD obtained from your local dealer could be laced with other substances like PCP, bath salts or cocaine. This claim may look good in a 1970s “reefer madness” type campaign, but how (or why) a drug dealer would go about mixing cocaine into a blotter-sheet I couldn’t possibly imagine. The bit about pregnancy and SSRIs makes sense, but applies to such a small segment of the population that the argument can be reduced to “don’t do LSD if you’re pregnant, or taking other drugs.” The argument of achieving creative success without the help of drugs is admittedly valid, though one might argue the same of coffee or alcohol.

Ultimately, the question one should be asking themselves is: what are the long-term consequences of taking small doses of LSD nearly twice a week? And the answer is, nobody knows yet. Depending on how comfortable you are with that, micro-dosing could be a positive lifestyle change…or a ticking time-bomb of mental health. But hey, nothing creative is the result of playing it safe.