Perceived outcomes of psychedelic microdosing as self-managed therapies for mental and substance use disorders

This survey (n=1102) study found positive effects after microdosing psychedelics (44% reported ‘much better’ mental health), but was limited to self-reports.

Abstract

Rationale The regular consumption of very small doses of psychedelic drugs (known as microdosing) has been a source of growing media and community attention in recent years. However, there is currently limited clinical and social research evidence on the potential role of microdosing as therapies for mental and substance use disorders. Objectives This paper examined subjective experiences of microdosing psychedelics to improve mental health or to cease or reduce substance use, and examined sociodemographic and other covariates of perceived improvements in mental health that individuals attributed to microdosing. Methods An international online survey was conducted in 2018 and examined people’s experiences of using psychedelics for self-reported therapeutic or enhancement purposes. This paper focuses on 1102 respondents who reported current or past experience of psychedelic microdosing. Results Twenty-one percent of respondents reported primarily microdosing as a therapy for depression, 7% for anxiety, 9% for other mental disorders and 2% for substance use cessation or reduction. Forty-four percent of respondents perceived that their mental health was “much better” as a consequence of microdosing. In a multivariate analysis, perceived improvements in mental health from microdosing were associated with a range of variables including gender, education, microdosing duration and motivations, and recent use of larger psychedelic doses. Conclusions Given the promising findings of clinical trials of standard psychedelic doses as mental health therapies, clinical microdosing research is needed to determine its potential role in psychiatric treatment, and ongoing social research to better understand the use of microdosing as self-managed mental health and substance use therapies.”

Authors: Toby Lea, Nicole Amada, Henrik Jungaberle, Henrike Schecke, Norbert Scherbaum & Michael Klein

Notes

  • 37% of participants used microdosing for mental health (2% for substance use)
  • 80% of participants reported some (36%) or much better (44%) mental health
  • Most respondents did use a high/full dose of psychedelics in the last 12 months

The survey study is a good sign for microdosing, especially if you just consider the effect it has on the people surveyed. Other placebo-controlled studies have difficulty finding effects beyond a placebo effect. And one also has to take into account effects like regression to the mean. But at a low dose and costs that are also very low, there may be made a case for trying microdosing for mental health.

“Respondents who had been microdosing for a longer duration were also more likely to be motivated to microdose for mental health. This may suggest that microdosing is working for these people, and that they are continuing to microdose as an ongoing therapy to replace or supplement psychiatric medications, some with the knowledge of their doctor and/or psychotherapist.”

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