LSD is making a comeback, but not in the way you'd expect

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BOSTON -- People looking to get an extra edge at work are turning to an illegal drug to boost their focus and creativity. They are microdosing LSD, which involves taking small amounts of LSD about twice a week.  

“It helped me with focus and creativity,” said Paul Austin, founder of the The Third Wave, which educates people about microdosing. “For creativity, to help with problem solving, to give them a little bit more energy, kind of to get another extra edge on what they’re doing."

Psychedelic music and swirls of color may be what comes to mind when you think of LSD, but some people in tech and entrepreneurs are using the illegal drug to boost their performance at work.

People who microdose say it doesn't cause them to hallucinate but that doesn't mean it's without risk.

Brigham and Women’s toxicologist Dr. Tim Erickson tells Boston 25 News, studies have found microdoses of LSD might help terminally ill patients with pain, when administered by a doctor. 

But he thinks doing it in the workplace is a bad idea.

“I think in the work environment without the proper control, without someone really looking in to make sure this is really what we're dealing with it could get a little out of control, the dosing could get upped,” said Dr. Erickson.  “If you're on it chronically it can affect your cognitive skills. It can give you flashbacks it can give you paranoia.”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warns:

“LSD is a schedule I drug and is illegal, regardless of the quantity. It simply has no accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse. It is a risky proposition when you obtain illicit drugs from any source.”

Austin, who is not a doctor, says anecdotal evidence he’s collected suggests microdosing LSD can help people struggling with low levels of depression and social anxiety.

“It just made me less in my head and more present with people in the moment,” said Austin.

But he says anyone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, general anxiety and color blindness should not microdose.

As a coach, Austin does phone consultations in which he explains the basics of microdosing.

“I really help them to clarify what is your intention, why are you interested in this and then how can we utilize microdosing as a tool to accelerate that path of personal development,” said Austin.

But Dr. Erickson says there are healthier alternatives, “Something like caffeine and a good night's sleep, a little exercise will probably do a better a better job than that.”

“I think it’s really relevant for this movement of self-optimization we’re seeing where a lot of people want to be their best selves,” said Austin.

Austin says he is not involved in helping clients get the LSD.

Right now, there isn’t much research about microdosing.  Austin says he wants to focus on raising money for research.

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