The use of psychedelics for me represents one of my most cherished and formative life experiences. However, it has been five years since the last time I took psychedelics. I know I am not done with acid, truffles and mushrooms, but I am looking for a different angle to a trip.
Since a few years, the field of psychedelics is experiencing a revival in clinical research and mainstream interest. This has encouraged the advocates of the conscious and therapeutic use of the gifts of mother nature to be more open and outspoken. So when Azarius offered to buy me a ticket to Amsterdam's first seminar on microdosing psychedelics, I accepted.
Open the Doors microdosing seminar is organized by the microdosing.nl platform, to “[...] open a space where the microdosing community shares knowledge, maps the unknown and collectively looks forward.” A chance to meet psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and researchers involved in the academic studies of the benefits and effects of psychedelics. I happily attended this event as a “curious skeptic”: interested in the topic, but wary of anything that is mainstream.
About a two years ago, a colleague talked to me about microdosing, which she was using to help alleviate her cluster headaches. Back then I was happy to hear that finally people were rediscovering the healing and balancing properties of psychedelics, widening their perspective on all their possible uses. I was also relieved to imagine that because of this, the heavy social stigma associated to drug use and possible legal consequences could finally be lifted. My interest in psychedelics peaked again. Perhaps the far limits of outer space was not where I wanted to travel, but rather a more measured and modest trip. An experience that I could more relate to my daily life.
However, as I was looking into this interesting new approach to drugs (Albert Hoffman is said to have microdosed LSD for 20 years), I started finding headlines that reminded me of pharma advertisements: “the new life-hack of Silicon Valley” (what is a “life-hack”?), “better than Adderall”. I don't feel much of a connection to California's hybrid of hippies and yuppies, using psychedelics to simply improve their work "creativity, productivity and efficiency”. Call me old-school, but I built my connection to psychedelics because they were exactly NOT helping me to “have a slight edge over the competition, because being productive is the new sexy... ”.
My years taking psychedelics were part of those times when drug use was not part of the system. They helped me discover the opposite: a connection to the universe, to others and ultimately to yourself.
So what should I do?
I thus went to this conference with a cynical interest: wanting to reconnect to psychedelics, but not because of a new hype. Would this be the event that could help me?
There was no trace of “hype”, but rather an excited yet professional and unpretentious approach to the topic. Specialists were discussing scientific research, inviting interested individuals to join their university studies and explaining important information in an accessible way. We have already talked about microdosing in an encyclopedia article, but I did learn something more about how psychedelics work in the brain.
Thanks to Josephine Marschall (Leiden University), who talked about the impact on neural functioning that psychedelics have. Psychedelics, by acting on serotonin receptors, connect neuron-paths that don't usually communicate. This also decreases the neural connections that usually occur. This could explain a certain sense of “mind expansion” when taking psychedelics. Connections that occur between pathways that have never communicated before, are being formed for the first time. This is also what happens when taking a microdose.
Although this rigid scientific approach to the wild world of psychedelic wonder is still a bit unfitting for me, I appreciate the effort invested in taking this topic more seriously. In fact this resarch is investigating psylocibyn in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
I realized that at the end of the second decade of the third millennium how and who approaches drugs is different than how it was done it in the Nineties. There is new information, experiments, laws and practices. This is not in contradiction with the system, it is integrated, creating a new public and new culture.
Taking these new horizons into consideration, I think I will start microdosing. But not because Steve Jobs did. Rather here is what brought me closer to this decision. Something I found on the microdosing.nl website.
“There’s no magic pill. Microdosing is not good-time-guaranteed, call-now-just-$19.99 type of “remedy” or fast treatment. The experience varies, just like the complications in our mind vary. Every day our bodies are a little bit different from the next because we’re working with a new day and new circumstances.”