Silicon Valley has always been on the cutting edge of creativity and technology. Companies in the Valley make apps, networks, and websites that link users to a vast web of people and services, all over the world. Connection is big business. (Does the name “Facebook” ring a bell? How about “Twitter”?) So maybe it’s not a huge surprise that microdosing on LSD to enhance a sense of “connectedness” is the next big trend to hit the tech world.
Opening The Metaphorical Doors of Perception
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), commonly known as “acid,” became popular in the 1960s. It’s a potent mood altering drug, which is famous for its hallucinogenic side effects. Jimi Hendrix allegedly put it in his headband when he performed; Grace Slick wrote the lyrics to “White Rabbit” while tripping on acid. LSD’s dark side is as well known as its magical properties: bad trips can mean a visit to the ER, or even self injury. How did such a famously wild, unruly drug become the secret tool for a bunch of tech nerds?
The trick, according to people who are doing it, isn’t to trip. According to a recent article at Time, “you’re not going on a full-fledged trip down the rabbit hole; you’re just trying to harness your inner creativity more clearly.” In a culture that puts extreme pressure on employees to excel and compete, some people are trying to find a shortcut in the form of hallucinogens. This isn’t unprecedented. It’s not uncommon for tech workers to abuse stimulants, or seek prescriptions they don’t need, in order to work long hours while maintaining an inhuman attention span. Whether the issue is unrealistic expectations and high stakes, or a wish for relief in a difficult work environment, the outcome is the same: a positive UA.
What Happens When We Normalize Hallucinogen Use?
For most addicts in recovery, hallucinogens are off limits. Of course, this is a personal decision: everyone’s definition of abstinence is different. Hallucinogens or drugs like ketamine, which have hallucinogenic side effects, have been used to assist people who are coping with the psychological struggles of early recovery. Also, some people, whose cultures use hallucinogens in religious ceremonies, may partake as part of important rituals or ceremonies. As any addict knows, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a substance. It’s when that substance is ingested by someone with substance abuse disorder that the nightmare begins.
Normalizing hallucinogen use or treating mind altering drugs as anything other than what they are—heavy duty psychotropic substances—represents a huge attitude change for white collar America. LSD, once demonized as the “Devil’s drug” and linked to Satanism and suicide, is entering the workplace, this time as a mood aid. What a transformation! For addicts who avoid hallucinogens, LSD’s new “branding” doesn’t matter—just as the legalization of marijuana didn’t suddenly transform that drug into a safe substance for addicts to use. No matter how the drug is used, or by what groups of people, it’s still a no-no.
Furthermore, just because some people are choosing to use LSD at work doesn’t mean that’s OK with their employers. Many workplaces have stringent drug use policies and will fire employees who come to work in an altered state. Also, LSD is not a legal drug. Possession can mean 1-3 years in jail, and a fine of up to $25,000. Drug charges don’t look great on your resume—even if you were “just doing it to be productive.”
But What Do I Do If I Want Those Side Effects?
One person who regularly microdoses at work said that LSD makes it so that, “I’m so much more in the present. I used to, even when I was enjoying something, really be thinking about what I was going to do when it was over and so forth. Now when I’m doing something, I’m actually doing it.” Other users mention less anxiety, less desire to smoke cigarettes, and better eating and sleeping habits. Who wouldn’t want LSD’s side effects? However, for an addict who needs to avoid hallucinogens, is it possible to get those same results without sacrificing their sobriety date?
The answer is yes, but it’s not as easy as taking a tab of LSD. Regular meditation can produce the same connected state of mind that hallucinogens do. Meditating can improve the function of the brain, even in a resting state. People who meditate frequently or have a regular habit of meditating report better sleep, making better or more intuitive decisions, a sense of serenity and peacefulness, connectedness with the world, and general happiness. Whether you’re a Buddhist monk or a barista, meditation can be highly beneficial—and, best of all, you won’t fail your UA.
Although some medications, when prescribed by a doctor and used under medical supervision, can be extremely helpful, taking a psychedelic drug just to get ahead at work is counterproductive. Why turn on when you can tune out? If you’re yearning for a break from reality, or wish you had more insights into your life, meditation may be the microdose you’re looking for.