In a recent report from GQ, professionals nationwide were shocked to learn about the hottest trend in Silicon Valley – taking small hits of LSD to boost creativity. What won’t these millennials think up next?!
As someone fortunate enough to live and work in the Silicon Valley during the underground 90’s rave scene, I never expected that the recreational drugs we enjoyed then would one day become a PART of someone’s work life, or odder still, an accepted part of the corporate culture.
In the Valley, the 90’s were an epic time of parties, drugs and diverse partygoers: from Gen X slackers and minimal wage retail slaves, to software engineers, marketing managers, and corporate execs. A long “smoke” break at lunch was nothing special, and a hit of acid made a weekend team building event just a bit more fun. This overlapping of work and play was a giddy form of rebellion.
Fast forward to today, where leading the new drug revolution is a crop of super smart young 20somethings like Ken, and Steve from Silicon Valley. These young professionls are interested in actually enhancing their work performance and creativity by taking small doses of psychedelics such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms. This trend is called microdosing, but its effects are supposedly anything but “micro.”
In the case of “Steve,” an anonymous tech entrepreneur featured in a 2016 series for TheHustle.co, he was skeptical of the practice but curious. Upon further research, he became less apprehensive.
“I was extremely surprised to find that LSD is:
- not addictive
- essentially impossible to overdose on
These were my two biggest concerns about taking [these] drugs. So, with reservations, I decided to move forward with this experiment.”
Though he found that other prescription drugs were more effective in terms of productivity, he was happy with the results.
“Whilst I’m not a doctor and can no way recommend what you should do … I am planning to continue doing microdoses of LSD long-term; I just need to work out the exact dosage and schedule.
Overall – who wouldn’t want to be happier and more communicative?”
But is it right for you?
Dr. James Fadiman, legendary psychedelic psychologist and author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, has been collecting research from self-reporting experimenters from all over the world – a majority of these participants being from the SF Bay area. They’re super smart, super competitive and looking for a way to get ahead of the pack. He’s still collecting data and offering a suggested protocol (in case “your friend” is interested in joining the study… wink wink).
For people looking for a new way to solve technical problems or be more “innovative,” Fadiman touts it as “an extremely healthy alternative to Adderall,” the drug of choice among programmers. He says the self-reported results have been promising: Subjects described an alleviation of various disorders that were getting in the way of their optimum work performance, such as depression, stress, migraines and chronic-fatigue syndrome. Or they were able to focus more, totally engross themselves like never before in a project, such as microdoser Baynard reports. Or perhaps overcome mental blocks to program better, as Karen experienced. But more importantly, just like big daddy Apple – they were able to “think outside of the box”.
So we’ve got a bunch of workers doing a variety of drugs – with or without their company’s permission. But what about the legality? There are a lot of variables going on that need to be considered. Psychedelics have been illegal since 1968, so the only way people are getting their hands on them are dealers and dark web (as Daniel and Steve share) – unregulated and shady at best, unless “you know a guy.”
Ignoring bogus anti-drug propaganda from the Nixon-era, there are still medical consequences to consider. Sure, every now and then there’s someone like David Nichols, professor of pharmacology at Purdue University, Indiana saying it’s “quite possible” that “microdoses” of LSD could have a stimulant effect – much like Adderall and Ritalin – by activating dopamine pathways in the brain. (Which he says leads to stimulating the cerebral cortex.) But that’s not enough to make me want to start doing it.
It all boils down to what you’re trying to achieve, what you’re willing to do to achieve it, and if you’re okay with taking “adjusted” medications. The types of people biohacking (performing this do-it-yourself biological tweaking) are usually individuals who have been fine-tuning their own physical and mental states for a while. Perhaps starting with ADHD drugs as schoolchildren or at university, and then expanding out from there to all sorts of substances – including illegal drugs and smart drugs (cognitive enhancers). With this type of “enhancement for peak competitive performance” attitude, psychedelics probably aren’t that much of a stretch. For the rest of us, getting stoned at work is probably as racy as we’d be willing to go.
Is microdosing the key to concentration and innovative ideas? Ken, Steve, Baynard and Karen seem to think so. But until more conclusive and medically based tests are done, perhaps it’s best to hang back. And particularly for those of you that feel like you need these substances to gain a competitive edge lest you get left professionally behind… chill. Seriously. This is how Olympic drugging got out of hand.
About the Author
Carol Peitzsch is a wordsmith specializing in marketing and branding text. With over 25 years experience in the corporate world – from Silicon Valley to Europe – she shares her knowledge through various media outlets and gives marketing lectures at the EU Business School in Munich.