Evan's morning routine is pretty run of the mill, except for the tiny dose of magic mushrooms he washes down with his morning coffee.
It's about one-tenth of the size of the dose recreational users would take to get high. That not what Evan's after. He microdoses to give his day an extra kick and clarity.
"It felt like it was a big risk; doing something illegal and going to work," the allied health worker said.
"But it was a really, really good day."
"I felt I could engage with people like I hadn't been able to do in a long time. I was able to connect with [clients] and found they responded more positively.
"It was almost like I'd taken a mindfulness pill. I was way more present in the moment.
"It had such a minuscule impact on my actual functioning, but a strong impact on my sense of the world. Outwardly it's a really subtle shift. The effect of a coffee or a valium
would be a lot stronger.
"There is no way anybody at work would know."
It is unclear how many professionals are microdosing. Researchers hope the Global Drug
Survey will provide some answers.
It's not an isolated scenario. Myriad anecdotes describe professionals taking microdoses of LSD
and other hallucinogens
unbeknown to colleagues, clients and friends.
There is no robust data that proves microdosing can help people problem solve, stay alert and focus, or the potential short and long-term harms associated with the trend. It's also illegal.
Magic mushrooms could be used as a medical treatment in the future.
But it's time to collect solid data about the claim that microdosing on LSD and other hallucinogens make people more productive, more creative and less stressed at work, psychedelic
drug researchers say.
Microdosers take a fraction of the normal recreational dose of psychedelic, usually 10 to 20 micrograms of LSD or 0.2-0.5 grams of magic mushrooms (psilocybin
They report the tiny doses are not potent enough to cause hallucinations but can heighten your alertness, energy and creativity.
Online forums on drug harm reduction sites like Bluelight are dotted with personal tales of people microdosing to give them a slight buzz.
Many of the accounts collected by researchers have trickled out of the US melting pot
of tech and creative industries, Silicon Valley.
Other accounts were less favourable, with users reporting paranoia, hyperactivity and becoming physically ill.
"There's a lot of anecdotes, but the plural of anecdotes is not research," said clinical psychologist Stephen Bright at Curtin University and the Psychedelic Research In Science & Medicine (PRISM).
"Is it the drug I'm taking? Or am I getting a placebo effect? Am I being more mindful of the moment because I know I'm microdosing? The only way we'll know that is with randomised controlled trials," he said.
Researchers still have no accurate, even ball park, indication of how many people are microdosing in Australia and internationally.
That's about to change with the launch of the latest Global Drug Survey (GDS), which had more than 100,000 participants from over 50 countries last year.
Working with the Imperial College London psychedelic research group, the GDS study explores how common the practice of taking microdosing is, how people are using it and whether it worked for them.
Participants are also asked if they've ever treated physical or psychiatric conditions with psychedelics.
Nigel Strauss – a clinical psychiatrist and advocate for Australian psychedelic research – said proposals to study psychedelic drug-assisted therapy struggle to attract funding and are treated with extreme caution by universities.
"There are people out there who are doing it [microdosing]," he said.
"Whether it makes people more efficient or not is very much open to conjecture. The research on these drugs
needs to be done in a proper clinical setting.
"Because there's no control over any of this, it is all anecdotal and as far as research is concerned we know very little about it," he said.
President of PRISM, researcher Martin Williams said Australia was inching closer to medical trials to test the therapeutic effect of psychedelics and ecstasy
, with similar trials under way overseas.
In November the FDA in the US approved large-scale clinical trials of ecstasy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Everything tends to happen at a glacial pace until something clicks," he said.
"More and more conservatives you wouldn't expect are getting on board starting to say this is interesting."
Last year, an unidentified 25-year-old man working for a tech start-up in San Francisco told Rolling Stone magazine after microdosing at work: "I was making a lot of sales, talking to a lot of people, finding solutions to their technical problems."
As with all illegal drug use, experts warn that the composition of such substances is impossible to guarantee. Hallucinogenics can cause psychotic reactions, intense hallucinations and paranoia, while LSD was this year blamed for the death of 15-year-old Arthur Cave, son of singer Nick Cave, who fell from a cliff after taking the drug.
Fairfax Media has partnered with the GDS for its fifth year to help understand how and why people take drugs in Australia.
Click here to take part in the Global Drug Survey 2017
By: Kate Aubusson and Rania Spooner
The Sydney Morning Herald/Dec. 2, 2016
Image credit: istock and imperial.ac.uk
Note: Full title of the article is 'Global Drug Survey set to peel back curtain on professionals microdosing on LSD and magic mushrooms', a big thank you to BT2H for helping with my images