Growing up, every kids has heard the same line when it comes to drugs: “Just say no.” While anti-drug campaigns such as DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) were common in schools during the 1990s and 2000s, their effectiveness has come into question, and most have largely been discontinued. In the workforce, drug tests are very common, though Silicon Valley has bucked the trend. There have been reports of employees (up to and including high-level executives) at tech companies such as Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo taking drugs such as cocaine, meth, heroin, painkillers and stimulants. This goes above and beyond the usual Red Bull and coffee for a quick pick up in the work environment.
“There’s this workaholism in the valley, where the ability to work on crash projects at tremendous rates of speed is almost a badge of honor,” said Steve Albrecht, a San Diego consultant who teaches Bay Area employers about substance abuse awareness. “These workers stay up for days and days, and many of them gradually get into meth and coke to keep going. Red Bull and coffee only gets them so far,” he said, saying that Silicon Valley’s mentality of getting things done the fastest has a darker side to it.
One can add LSD, or acid, to the mix. Silicon Valley workers are microdosing (taking such a low dose of a drug so that it won’t have whole-body effects) LSD to boost innovation and productivity. “You feel a little bit of energy lift, a little bit of insight, but not so much that you are tripping,” said Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Big names in tech such as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs have attributed their successes to LSD. “Doing LSD was one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life,” Jobs said in a 2005 interview with New York Times reporter John Markoff.
James Fadiman, the author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, has advocated microdosing on drugs to help get projects done. One could argue that LSD could be to tech workers what performance-enhancing drugs are to athletes. People have reported that microdosing on drugs can alleviate depression, migraines and chronic fatigue syndrome, all of which are common in a workaholic environment such as Silicon Valley. Fadiman has also recommended that people should microdose every four days and stick to what they are currently doing. “People do it and they’re eating better, sleeping better, they’re often returning to exercise or yoga or meditation. It’s as if messages are passing through their body more easily,” he said.
However, Fadiman says that the effects of microdosing are not yet conclusive, which means further research may be needed. “This is total guesswork, but so many different conditions that I’ve seen are improved, it looks like it re-balances those pistons which are not in balance. This may be in your central nervous system, it may be the brain stem, it may be that it’s improving function of mitochondria.”
Fadiman said that recording your daily routine while microdosing is extremely important. “Write a few notes to yourself about how your day went. Consider, for example, the amount of work you did, how productive or creative it was, and the level of ease or discomfort you felt. Notice any changes in how you are relating to others. Notice any differences from normal in mood, food, physical strength, or symptoms of any condition,” he said to Motherboard Vice. Currently illegal drugs such as LSD could unlock a world of innovation if properly managed, but continued research is still needed to prove its effectiveness. Until then, it certainly qualifies as being “so good, it should be a crime.”