Author Archives: Kayla E.

Macrodosing vs Microdosing

Psychedelics are either microdosed or macrodosed. What differentiates the two?

Psychedelics are also known as hallucinogens and are categorized as a Schedule I drug. Some more well-known hallucinogens include LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, Ecstasy, and ketamine. Psychedelic compounds have been used for thousands of years in spiritual rituals and sacred ceremonies. The first synthetic hallucinogen, LSD, was created by Sandoz Laboratories in 1938. However, there is still not a lot of formal research conducted about the drug and other hallucinogens. 

Microdosing Vs. Macrodosing

What is Microdosing? 

Microdosing is a term that denotes when a very small amount of LSD or other psychedelics such as Psilocybin Mushrooms are consumed. Typically, this dosage is about one-tenth the full dose of a psychedelic drug. 

The effects of such consumption include improved mood, energy, and creative thinking. Most users report that they microdose the substances to relieve their symptoms of depression, PTSD and anxiety. (It is important to note, specifically with LSD, there is a high risk that the individuals form a dependence and addiction to the substance.)

Microdosing is a term used to describe when a very small amount of LSD or other psychedelics such as Psilocybin Mushrooms are consumed.

There are many claims of the transformative benefits of microdosing. However, these claims  are from users and will be inherently biased. The few studies that have been conducted suggest that overall thought performance improved after a non-blinded microdose. Conclusions from this study can only be labeled as hypotheses . 

Continued research and studies will need to be conducted in order to fully test and determine factual evidence of microdosing’s cognitive influences. 

Those who microdose psychedelics claim that the benefits include: 

  • Improve mood
  • Improve focus 
  • Increase creativity 
  • Improve energy 

On the other hand, users claim that microdosing can lead to: 

  • Physiological discomfort 
  • Impaired energy 
  • Impaired focus 
  • Anxiety surrounding the the illegality of the substances and the possibility of prison time

What is Macrodosing? 

Macrodosing is exactly what it sounds like– consuming a large dose of a psychedelic. A “trip” is the desired outcome when taking a macrodose. Generally, a trip lasts about 4-6 hours but can be as long as 8-10

An experience such as this temporarily alters one state of consciousness and reality. Emotional distortions, philosophical experiences outside of normal reality, and changed perceptions are all typical occurrences during a psychedelic experience. 

The substance being taken and the amount taken determines the intensity of such experiences. Individuals macrodose for a variety of reasons. Some of these include: 

  • To feel my open in social situations 
  • To experience a spiritual or mystical awakening 
  • To gain greater insights into life and themselves    

 

Typical occurances during a macrodose: emotional distortions, philosophical experiences outside of normal reality, changed perceptions.

Combating Addiction 

What Are the Dangers of Microdosing and Macrodosing? 

 Regardless of why one is microdosing or macrodosing psychedelics, there are always risks involved. A full-dose trip can be incredibly overwhelming and there are possibilities of triggering psychosis, schizophrenia, or other underlying mental conditions. Psychedelic clinical studies typically exclude individuals with such disorders to avoid the possibility of aggravating potential side effects.

As previously mentioned, psychedelics can cause someone to experience effects outside of their normal consciousness. These effects can lead one to being incredibly unaware of surroundings. 

This is a physical hazard to not only the user, but to those around them. Those who attempt to drive, use heavy machinery, or attempt to complete simple physical tasks can become a liability. 

As with all other illicit drugs, deadly substances can be laced into psychedelics. The substances are unregulated, leaving little room to be certain of safety, purity, and potency. Inaccurate dosing, which is a common mistake, can lead to a very unpleasant and possibly dangerous experience. It is common for hallucinogens to be mixed with other drugs such as alcohol, narcotics, or stimulants. 

It is hard to gauge the effects of the drugs when mixed; this can be very dangerous both physically and psychologically.

A full-dose psychedelic trip can trigger psychosis, schizophrenia, or other underlying mental conditions.

Where to Turn if You are Struggling with Micro- or Macrodosing Addiction

Self-medicating with potent illicit-drugs is always risky. When used to treat mental health disorders or physical ailments, these powerful substances can leave its user with a multitude of long-term side effects. Prolonged expert care can be offered to treat symptoms due to drug use, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression. A healthy and supportive environment encourages control of stress or other underlying mental and physical hindrances. 

The Northern Arizona Center for Addiction offers varying levels of treatment programs and treatment plans. A variety of resources are made available to those open to help and support. Receiving help is only a phone call away.

Understanding Compulsivity and Addiction

Often undiagnosed mental health disorders contribute to addiction or aggravate existing addiction issues.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) note, “Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.” With this in mind, how do mental health disorders like compulsivity and addiction relate to each other?

Compulsive behavior is a core aspect of addiction. In repeatedly returning to a substance, despite the knowledge that it is bad, people are responding to the compulsion to receive a perceived “reward”. Whatever type of high a substance provides, they hope to recreate and satisfy the compulsion. 

Unfortunately with stigma around both mental health and addiction, people are often unable to get the help they need. Further, some disorders are still misunderstood and people fail to recognize something for what it is. This is especially true for compulsive behavior.

Compulsivity and addiction often go hand in hand, though compulsive behavior is itself complex and not always a sign of addiction. 

Compulsivity vs Impulsivity

Impulsive and compulsive are very similar sounding words with similar meanings. It’s understandable that a lot of people tend to mix them up. Both involve involuntary actions often with the awareness that the behavior is not positive or helpful. 

An impulsive action is more often a one-off event that is done without giving much thought to the action or potential consequences. The type of impulsive behaviors varies widely and so do the consequences of course. 

Impulsive behaviors include:

  • Expensive purchases (often well outside of a person’s budget)
  • Yelling at someone
  • Going on a spur of the moment road trip
  • Eating fast food rather than cooking at home
Impulsive behaviors may include expensive purchases, yelling at someone, going on a spur of the moment road trip, eating fast food rather than cooking

Someone impulsively buying an expense they cannot afford might suffer financially or at the least experience regret. In contrast, a person who impulsively decides to harm another person would obviously face more serious consequences.

Compulsive behavior is a repetitive behavior that someone engages in often doing so to try to ease anxiety or unease. Examples include continually checking that doors are closed and/or locked, having to count to a specific number repeatedly, or obsessively cleaning surfaces.

While the consequences vary, and some actions appear harmless, they are often done despite a person wanting to stop their actions. For many this has the potential to cause serious mental distress.

More In-Depth: What is Compulsive Behavior?

There isn’t one definitive explanation for what compulsive behavior is. Like many mental health terms, this is partly due to ongoing research that helps professionals further understand and define disorders. 

To help improve understanding of compulsivity, an NIH study offers this definition, “Compulsive behavior consists of repetitive acts that are characterized by the feeling that one ‘has to’ perform them while one is aware that these acts are not in line with one’s overall goal.”

Quite often with addiction, whatever the substance or action, people are aware that their actions are not good for them. However, addiction and untreated mental health disorders make it difficult (and even impossible) for them to stop on their own. 

As mentioned above, compulsive behavior doesn’t necessarily equal addiction. A heightened fear of germs may lead to compulsive hand washing or cleaning surfaces. It is possible that many people want to ease anxieties and fears and attempt to assert control through compulsive behavior. 

many compulsive behaviors are a result of someone working to ease anxieties and fears

Many people dealing with compulsivity, whatever the behavior, often feel frustration and distress. Without appropriate help, many attempt to self-medicate and do so through substance use.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Most people are familiar with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is an anxiety disorder with a variety of symptoms that also vary in severity for each individual. A person with full-blown OCD will have persistent symptoms in two areas: obsessions and compulsions. Many times compulsivity is a result of obsessive thoughts.

Symptoms of obsession include:

  • Aversion to germs or dirt
  • Repeated unwanted ideas (intrusive thoughts)
  • Aggressive impulses
  • Fixation on symmetry and order
  • Persistent sexual thoughts
  • Thoughts of harming oneself, or harming loved ones

Signs of compulsion include:

  • Constant checking – repeatedly making sure doors are locked, lights are off, appliances are in working order 
  • Counting and recounting everyday objects
  • Repeated hand washing
  • Obsessively arranging items to be in a specific order
  • Hoarding items already used or of little to no value

How Does Compulsivity Relate to Addiction?

To reiterate – compulsive behavior is done repeatedly despite knowledge that the behavior is not helpful and even potentially harmful. 

Most people with compulsive behavior, including full-blown OCD, experience significant mental anguish in regards to actions they want to stop. 

As with many mental health disorders, people frequently lack proper resources for help. Consequently, they often turn to substances to try to cope. Drugs (which includes alcohol) provide a rush of dopamine to the brain and many result in a feeling of euphoria. 

Once someone is at the point where the rush of dopamine starts to decrease they are often unable to stop use of whatever substance(s) they are using. It is much easier than most people realize to reach a point of substance abuse and dependency. This is especially true for legal substances like alcohol.

For someone with compulsive behaviors, the risk of continuing to abuse substances and develop an addiction is serious. Someone already struggling with controlling other behaviors will likely struggle to keep any substance use under control. 

substance abuse is commonly seen in people struggling with untreated mental health disorders

Compulsivity and Addiction: Seeking Help

At Reflections we believe strongly in treating each individual uniquely and as a whole. This means we work to understand all of the causes behind a person’s addiction. Is it genetic? Are their physical ailments they are trying to cope with? Are they trying to cope with untreated mental health disorders?

Whatever the cause, whether one cause or multiple, we are ready to help a person treat each issue for the best chance of lifelong recovery. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with compulsivity and addiction, please reach out today. Reflections Recovery Center is ready to help you or a loved one learn to manage compulsive inclinations in healthy ways while recovering from alcohol or drug abuse.