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LSD, Reconsidered for Therapy (nytimes.com)
278 points by boh on Mar 4, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 177 comments



I gotta say if you're an expert at something or at least consider yourself an expert at something: take LSD.

LSD really dislodges how you view the world; it cleans out your mental system, like moving a fridge and cleaning all the crap that's been swept under there over the years.

I would love if some of these prominent intellectuals like Noam Chomsky or any of the nobel prize winners did LSD. I saw a really intense movie a few days before I did mushrooms and it totally changed how I viewed the world during my mushroom trip.

I can only imagine if you've been sitting on some idea(especially a really big intense one like how humans acquire language(!)) for decades how LSD would completely alter your viewpoint.


My late aunt was schizophrenic and apparently became so after experimenting with LSD. I've always thought it was coincidence but I remain wary of the cost/benefit. Here's an interesting article on experimentation with LSD by mathematicians, engineers, designers and artists.

'In mid-'60s LSD research study, dosed scientists achieved creative breakthroughs:

Over the course of the preceding year, IFAS researchers had dosed a total of 22 other men for the creativity study, including a theoretical mathematician, an electronics engineer, a furniture designer, and a commercial artist. By including only those whose jobs involved the hard sciences (the lack of a single female participant says much about mid-century career options for women), they sought to examine the effects of LSD on both visionary and analytical thinking. Such a group offered an additional bonus: Anything they produced during the study would be subsequently scrutinized by departmental chairs, zoning boards, review panels, corporate clients, and the like, thus providing a real-world, unbiased yardstick for their results.

In surveys administered shortly after their LSD-enhanced creativity sessions, the study volunteers, some of the best and brightest in their fields, sounded like tripped-out neopagans at a backwoods gathering. Their minds, they said, had blossomed and contracted with the universe. They’d beheld irregular but clean geometrical patterns glistening into infinity, felt a rightness before solutions manifested, and even shapeshifted into relevant formulas, concepts, and raw materials.

[The volunteers] remained firm: LSD absolutely had helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems. But here’s the clincher. After their 5HT2A neural receptors simmered down, they remained firm: LSD absolutely had helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems. And the establishment agreed. The 26 men unleashed a slew of widely embraced innovations shortly after their LSD experiences, including a mathematical theorem for NOR gate circuits, a conceptual model of a photon, a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device, a new design for the vibratory microtome, a technical improvement of the magnetic tape recorder, blueprints for a private residency and an arts-and-crafts shopping plaza, and a space probe experiment designed to measure solar properties. Fadiman and his colleagues published these jaw-dropping results and closed shop.'

http://boingboing.net/2012/08/03/in-mid-60s-lsd-research-stu...


Told ya. :) Cool study.

In all seriousness though LSD can have long-lasting effects on your personality. Also, while it seems possible you could develop a serious mental disorder from LSD, it seems unlikely; but I base that on my first-hand experience with it.


On the contrary, psychedelic drugs have been correlated with improved mental health in a recent study: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/809724


The issue is with genetic predispositions. Those who have a family history of psychosis are at risk. The mental health risk posed by psychedelics to people without such predispositions is extremely small.


I wish more experienced DMT. It's like the ultimate Oculus Rift. The resolution, colors and sense of intelligence communicating with you is beyond anything any other psychedelic can produce. It is literally like opening a door to another dimension, one full of overwhelming love. Maybe it's just a biological trick but it is one of the most fascinating and unbelievable things in nature.

Not everyone should try it but I hope one day Sam Harris eventually does. His insight on it would be riveting.


I know what you mean. DMT is something I recommend everyone and nobody should try.

The experience was extremely weird. It was like the filters that my brain uses so that it can adequately process the 'live stream' from all my senses got switched off. I was subjected to to the 'live stream' in its full bit rate. I revelled in it for a while but eventually the wave was so huge that my brain shut down. No ego whilst I was in there surrounded by millions of video images almost to fast to process (memories maybe).

I have to admit though that it wasn't a pleasant experience, but for me it was an experience I wouldn't change.


> DMT is something I recommend everyone and nobody should try.

This fits Salvia as well. Salvia Divinorum, for those who don't know, is another psychedelic. This time it's naturally occurring (the Salvinorin A is strongest natural hallucinogen) and doesn't smell like burnt rubber with ramen noodles. As with everything else (except programming), study before use.


Salvia often has an extremely negative feeling associated with it. The initial smoking of DMT can be uncomfortable but with a proper dosage it typically causes a very positive feeling but not in the sense of any stimulant. It feels natural, loving and you can forget you have a body.

Salvia can have horrendous negative feelings. A smaller dosage of DMT can produce slight anxiety. Of course, these are anecdotal experiences but I'd warn against using salvia.

I would caution against Ayahuasca too as it's intense, last hours and can be very negative unlike smoking DMT.


I wonder if we'll ever reach a point where one could have a DMT experience in a comfortable and legal fashion. It would be nice if the laws allowed for licensed psychedelic exploration centers where one could be attended to by experienced trip sitters.

(And yes, I know there are numerous Ayahuasca retreats available in South America.)


There are several Santo Daime churches operating legally in the US (as well as in the Netherlands and its native Brazil), whose service includes court-sanctioned ayahuasca ceremonies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santo_Daime#United_States

http://www.bialabate.net/texts/oregon-daime-case-documents


Terrence McKenna talks a ton about DMTs transcendental effects in his book Food for the Gods. He thinks it literally allows us to talk to Aliens or the Other as he calls it. It's a strange book but has definitely piqued my interest in DMT.


Larry Hagman credited LSD with helping him to quit booze. Shakes your brain up like a snowglobe breaking all those addiction paths, so he claimed. I did ridiculous amounts of Nicholas Sand made LSD back in the early 90s when I was Lisp hacking, went from depressed teen to motivated info sponge couldn't read enough


There are at least two Nobel Laureates who have used LSD:

Kary Mullis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kary_Mullis

Francis Crick http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/science/11book.html?_r=0



I've always found it incredibly amazing that psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, DMT etc) were outlawed in responses to forms of massive, peaceful "movements" in which taking psychedelics was something the members of the movement were known to do; that legislators and policy makers were so afraid of the affects these chemicals would have on society that they had to put the serious force of the law behind getting them out of the hands and the minds of the people.


> "psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, DMT etc) were outlawed in responses to forms of massive, peaceful "movements" in which taking psychedelics was something the members of the movement were known to do"

I think that is true, but I think you have misidentified the actual rational behind the bans.

In Dan Baum's Smoke and Mirrors, Dan Baum has John Ehrlichman, Nixon's domestic policy advisor, admitting that heroin and weed were targeted because their use was [perceived to be] popular among black people and hippies, both groups that the 'silent majority' feared. Targeting these drugs appeased the fearful ignorant 'silent majority', and it allowed the government to actually go after and disrupt these groups.

"we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure."


I think it was just a convenient way to continue to suppress the counterculture while also looking tough and moral, because we all know how much our politicians love that. The effects of LSD in freeing peoples minds or somehow waking them up to reality are exaggerated IMHO.

I mean, do you need LSD to know the government is wasting your money and making insane legislation?


> The effects of LSD in freeing peoples minds or somehow waking them up to reality are exaggerated IMHO. > I mean, do you need LSD to know the government is wasting your money and making insane legislation?

Nice red herring.

Indeed, you do not need to take LSD to know that the government is wasting money and making insane legislation. It's really pretty obvious and in the midst of a breakthrough LSD trip, you would probably find this to be a trifling, utterly irrelevant matter, and wouldn't waste too much time thinking about it.

The effects of LSD on freeing people's minds lie elsewhere, not in making people aware of the governmental abuses of power.


>> The effects of LSD on freeing people's minds lie elsewhere, not in making people aware of the governmental abuses of power.

So please describe what these effects would be?

And please don't think when I talk about it inducing a false sense of the profound that I speak from ignorance or inexperience.


Yes, we'll compress it into a few sentences in a Hacker News comment, to make it as easy as possible to trivialize via verbal argument.

The very idea that you can discriminate true and "false" senses of the cosmic, for anybody, says a lot about where you're speaking from.


I'm sorry, but if you come back from a trip convinced of many of the things I've seen and heard people decide when on trips... well let me just say that some of these great and profound realisations are just nonsense when looked at in the cold light of day later.

I'm absolutely not criticising anyone's experience of LSD, but I'm not sure either why you refuse to contemplate that there could an inebriant and hallucinogenic component to acid that can result in just as much drivel as you get from a drunk.

If every experience you've ever had was a deep shamanic awakening that taught you about yourself and the universe then that's aweseom for you. 99% of the use of acid I've ever seen was more about giggling, talking bullshit and staring at the pretty colours.


>>> The effects of LSD on freeing people's minds lie elsewhere, not in making people aware of the governmental abuses of power.

To be fair, the poster before did make a statement about what effects lsd would not have.

I agree with you that it will be difficult to verbalise any of this. However, I would say that an increased awareness of power structures is a possible outcome of a psychedelic experience.


Oh yeah, of course it was a way to suppress the countercultures. But not all countercultures had or have drug use perceived as one of their defining characteristics.


I guess if it is humble enough, that opinion isn't too harmful. I think many people would find it dismissive of their experience, especially since you have no justification for characterizing their experience for them. To presume to speak of "The LSD Experience" is anything but humble.


I'm not characterising their experience for them, it's far too variable and subjective to do that. I also didn't use the phrase "The LSD Experience" so I'm not sure why you felt the need to quote that.

What I will say is that some people seem to come back from it convinced that acid will change the face of humanity and society in some sort of miraculous way. But when pressed they can't say how. I don't think it's wrong to combine this with the fact that LSD can cause feelings of the profound over the most mundane or nonsensical things and come to the conclusion that they're probably off on one...

As I said - do you need acid to see the problems in our human society?


> As I said - do you need acid to see the problems in our human society?

You are on a red herring streak :)

You do not need acid to see the problems within human society. But acid helps when it comes to seeing the problems within yourself, and giving you motivation to fix them.

The transformative potential of acid on society can be expressed in statistical terms. If a sufficiently large number of people were to embark on a course of self improvement and personal evolution towards humanistic and compassionate values, this phenomenon would bring about societal change.


What sort of changes?

Why do you think LSD would necessarily bring about more humanistic or compassionate values?


While some people do seem to be less of an asshole after doing LSD, I've seen some very hate filled and bigoted people remain convicted of their prejudice even after using multiple times.


They're probably not doing high enough doses and/or a combination of the following:

Using LSD with intentions to not be bigoted, prejudice, etc.

Taking LSD with the intention to introspect, experience spirituality, etc

Taking lots of medium dose LSD over time (years, decades) till the character of the experience gradually evolves for them in such a way as to reduce bigotry and prejudice

When people say LSD can have profound effects on people what often gets left out is that one may need to take it more frequently and in higher doses than most recreational users tend to do. Intentions matter, too.


You seem particularly motivated to discount the awakening effects of LSD. I never mentioned seeing problems in society, so as far as I'm concerned that's a strawman.

Are people wrong to feel profundity in the mundane? Is there another way to interpret the belief that LSD or access to altered states could change society?


I have no evidence such awakenings exist, and nobody can ever really define what they mean by them. What do you mean, exactly?

Nobody is wrong to feel profundity in the mundane, but LSD can have you feeling a profound connection to a piece of cheese, or suddenly realising that all humanity's problems would go away if we just wore more purple.

As for the problems with society, it very relevant to people who talk about awakenings and how/why the legislators and policy makers (to quote the post I originally replied to) would be somehow afraid of these awakenings.

It seems like magical thinking. And as nobody has been able to actually explain what they mean, that's the conclusion I've come to.


"LSD can have you feeling a profound connection to a piece of cheese"

This is what usually happens to my friends who drop acid. I'll always remember my best friend's deep connection to some lamp post, and how he "figured out why that lamp post is there, mans. I know it now". I'm sure this isn't what happens to everyone. What I think happens is that true profundity happens to people who are sort of on a good path to find it already.


Here. I will articulate it.

Each one of us is an unbroken chain of physical interactions since the beginning. There is no universe without conscious subjective experience; there is no conscious subjective experience without the universe. Life--conscious, experiential, intelligent life--is fundamentally intertwined with existence and you cannot have one without the other. The universe as a fundamental process is one that yields life; it is impossible to conceive of a universe where life does not exist, for without the experience, there is no universe.

We are, fundamentally, the universe experiencing itself subjectively from billions and billions of different facets and points of view.

More succinctly, we are all one.


Awesome.

Now, how does that change anything?


chop wood, carry water.

it doesn't change how things are; it changes how you look at it, and that makes a difference. it is a personal experience that changes how you let yourself be affected by minor hurts and problems, and lets you immerse yourself in the world and more deeply enjoy the things you take pleasure from.


Does it happen that you've ever read Flatland?


You're still doing it. You're spouting inanity you contrived out of your own head, and feigning to attribute that inanity to typical LSD use.

But do keep promoting your conclusion - I'm sure there's some important insight there.


>> You're still doing it. You're spouting inanity you contrived out of your own head, and feigning to attribute that inanity to typical LSD use.

I may as well say the same to you, having started by misquoting me and then failed to answer any questions.

>> But do keep promoting your conclusion - I'm sure there's some important insight there.

My conclusion is there's no evidence that widespread use of LSD would change much or result in major changes to society. Do you have any evidence or are you just spouting shit too?


"Nobody is wrong to feel profundity in the mundane, but LSD can have you feeling a profound connection to a piece of cheese, or suddenly realising that all humanity's problems would go away if we just wore more purple."

I can't speak to your experience on LSD, but for me LSD removes boundaries in my mind and provokes me to realize that we humans are way more similar than we are different. In fact, the same goes for other animals on this planet. LSD makes me realizes things that I technically already knew, but didn't feel.

How does LSD affect you?


>> How does LSD affect you?

In a vast variety of different ways depending on dose, set and setting etc.

I understand your realisation, I do. But I'm not seeing how it would be world-changing if more people were allowed to take it because I know people whose LSD experience was (repeatedly) "sit in the corner of a nightclub with wide eyes and a grin".


The people promoting psychedelics back then were also being quite irresponsible. Dosing people without consent or knowledge and whatnot. All the "science" done then was terribly flawed.

Not that they should be responsible or that I'm blaming them for the backlash, but a bit more tact may have helped the movement in the long-term.


Sorry to parrot hippies and/or Bill Hicks, but they outlawed those drugs because they're not alcohol and cigarettes, they allow you to see how you're being fucked every day of your life, so of course they're outlawed :)That peaceful movement was a threat to the powers that be..


Yes, it's definitely a conspiracy. Never forget the man is out to get us!


I had a friend in college -- really smart physics major -- drop acid one summer and lose the ability to do math. He needed to take a year off and finally finished his degree but was never on top of his game again.

I'm not saying that always or even usually happens. But, acid is no joke and I just wanted to make sure that the inexperience reading this know that trips can go really wrong. Especially when you aren't using medical grade LSD but whatever you can buy from a stranger on SilkRoad/wherever.


> Especially when you aren't using medical grade LSD but whatever you can buy from a stranger on SilkRoad/wherever

Ironically, in the heyday of Silk Road, you likely were buying medical-grade LSD if you were careful.

http://www.gwern.net/Silk%20Road#lsd-case-study

http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/14/4828448/silk-road-lsd-ave...


spinlock is completely misinformed on this one. Like scott_karana said, the Silk Road was the place to get high quality drugs. If I'm not mistaken, many reputable sellers on the site had their products tested for purity.


The link scott_karana provided said that a group calling themselves the Avengers started rating the acid on SilkRoad because so much of it was not pure LSD.


> lose the ability to do math

What does that mean? (How did it play out and what did it look like?)


I have no idea what was going on inside his head but he just couldn't figure out things like making change for a dollar. He and my roommate were doing their calculus homework shortly before he left and he just couldn't do simple problems. He went from just getting math to being mistified by it.


Sorry, but that sounds like absolute bullshit.


It is true that LSD can mess you up if taken under certain circumstances, however, you shouldn't intimidate the inexperience. If all you ever heard about LSD is that it could mess you up, then there is a higher probably that it will harm you. Instead, I would recommend the following to all those who are inexperienced: Make sure you understand it's effects and try to find someone who has experience with LSD to guide you through your first trip.


The paradoxical thing about LSD is that you simply cannot understand its effects until you've already tried it.


This makes me incredibly curious and eager to try it.


Definitely try it.

It's very difficult to know that you're getting good product though. I'm in the North Bay and have almost always had "real" LSD at my disposal. It's the geek's wonder drug for sure --> http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/01/70015?...

I recommend everyone without serious mental illness try it, then continue to do it every year or every few years to clear out the cobwebs, as it were.


just remember: knowing you don't know what you're getting into isn't knowing what you're getting into. :)


It's LSD, it can go one way or the other. My tip, if you're going to do it, do it. Take a full dose or don't do it at all. Doing "just a bit" is always miserable.

Even when it's bad, if you've got decent people around you, you can keep your shit together. But then if you've got decent people around you, you're unlikely to freak out.


I'm all for LSD being considered for certain therapeutic cases.

I took it at a time of my life when I'd been having a sustained identity crisis for years on end, something I'd made known to friends and family. I had no idea who I was supposed to be and I felt like I was just running on auto-pilot, idly guessing at how I should react to situations and being surprised when things turned out okay. I read tons of self-help books and "know-thy-self" pamphlets, but I was still clueless.

After the LSD, I completely knew who I was again, and I've been on that steady path ever since.

It's a good thing to try when you need to do some introspection that you've been having substantial trouble coming to a solution over.

I seriously believe it skipped over a decades worth of introspection for me. I mean, I was already on year "3" of my crisis, and I had made zilch headway. It gets you through things that are nigh impossible to do without it. That of course combined with the low-toxicity and lack of a potential for addiction makes it a no-brainer.

Like somebody else commented, it's like it shakes your brain up like a snowglobe breaking all of those strongly held pathways in your brain that you would normally be unable to even see. It destroys false pre-conceptions about yourself like a steamroller, and then it helps you build the correct notions back up.


The most prominent researcher in LSD therapy was Stan Grof. Look up his books - they are the definitive material for psychiatric work using psychedelics. There are experiences in the books that will blow your mind. I believe he was head of the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins, before this research was shut down.

However, it is interesting that he now appears to be a proponent of meditation and other methods, as far as I know. He teaches an interesting technique called holotropic breathing which aims to replicate the benefits without the risk.

I think a prominent meditation teacher summed it up best when he said that psychedelics can lead to a powerful opening, but they are not a path.


Grof's work _Beyond the Brain_ is particularly interesting. From what little I have read about it, I think holotropic breathing is both physically safe and able to be discontinued at any point during the experience - unlike LSD.


Stan Grof's books are some of the best I've found on the topic of consciousness and 'reality' in general. He is so committed to learning about consciousness, he kept exploring the subject by whatever means he could find or invent, even after he could no longer work with psychedelics. I was lucky to attend a talk he gave on LSD just a few months ago.


Grof believes he has communicated with aliens.


That doesn't faze or surprise me. Do not get me started on the bigness or inscrutability of the universe.


One trip about 2 years ago made me realize that I should not worry about things I can't control, and changed me from the bitter, angry person I'd become to the life loving happy person I used to be when I was young, in an instant.


About 20 years ago I had some bad shit going on in my life and did the same. It was the most horrible experience of my life. I thought I was shitting snakes and they were then eating me.

However I instantly stopped smoking, drinking and haven't touched anything since.

YMMV as they say.

Edit: perhaps its related but it was shortly after that I finally grokked Unix and C.


but that's what psychedelics do. they magnify what you bring to the experience and give it back to you 10 fold.


Scientifically speaking, are you saying that this would be the result for most people? Steve Jobs, for example, famously took LSD but he certainly cared about controlling most things in his life, and sweated the details.


I like to control things as well, but not things I am not able to, like other people, or distant wars, or politicians, etc :)

Anyway, I got a lot of insights that really changed my life for the better. Funny thing is that most of it is common knowledge, these things that are 'easier said than done', that then turn out to be just as easy done as said :)

(I can only talk from my own perspective of course)


Yeah, but he was kind of a douche.


This is striking testimony about Aldous Huxley taking LSD on his deathbed written by his wife: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/03/most-beautiful-death.ht.... It seems that this very emotional account is in accordance with the findings of the Swiss psychiatrists.


Peter, the social worker, agreed. “I will say I have been more emotional since the study ended, and I don’t mean always cheerful,” he said. “But I think it’s better to feel things strongly — better to be alive than to merely function.”

It's interesting that society has long been comfortable pushing drugs that have the opposite effect, resulting in poor compliance by patients who complain of feeling "dead" or "not there."


A quote: "After about two months of weekly therapy, the eight participants who received full doses of LSD improved by about 20 percent on standard measures of anxiety, and the four subjects who took a much weaker dose got worse."

I hope no one thinks this is science. There's no control group, those who received the treatment under study knew who they were, and they were asked about their emotional state after the treatment ended. This is a classic case where the Placebo effect cannot be either eliminated or discounted.

This is not say that LSD has no beneficial effects in therapy. This is to say we have no idea, and this study provides no useful scientific data.


Interestingly enough, there was a student at Harvard in the 1960's (recounted in the Varieties of Psychedelic Experience), who did a placebo-controlled study of psilocybin (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_Chapel_Experiment).

Long term follow-ups seem to indicate that the differences (in terms of a self-report questionnaire, at least) were maintained over 25 years.

In the book at least, it was concluded (by the primary researcher) that the blinding was completely ineffective (though I don't think that this was confirmed with a manipulation check).

I would say that placebo-controlled studies of psychedelics, for similar reasons that placebo-controlled studies of other drugs (cigarettes, coffee, alcohol) will be difficult. Namely that a placebo should be identical to the treatment in every respect except for the active ingrediant, and what's the active ingrediant?

Its really well-worth checking out the Varieties for some good pointers to research in the 50's and 60's, there was quite a lot of it, and although some of it was methodologically unsound, and there are very few RCT's, the sheer amount of studies should probably carry some weight.


Yes, but if you continue reading the start of the very next paragraph addresses this.

>The trial was far too small to be conclusive, >said Dr. Gasser, whose co-authors include Dr. Doblin, >Dominique Holstein of UniversityHospital Zurich and Rudolf >Brenneisen of the University of Bern.

they go on to say that

>“It’s a proof of concept,” Dr. Doblin said. >“It shows that this kind of trial can be done safely, and >that it’s very much worth doing.” --

which is important. This sort of research all but halted in the mid-60s. In fact, the reason LSD even made it into popular culture can be a credited to the fact that many who tried it in clinical trials liked it enough to take it home a share. Of course, that is a bit of a dump down version, but not too far from the truth.


> Yes, but if you continue reading the start of the very next paragraph addresses this. "The trial was far too small to be conclusive ..."

Yes, and it's somewhat discouraging to see how rarely these appropriate caveats never get into either the headlines or the mind of the public.

>“It’s a proof of concept,” Dr. Doblin said. >“It shows that this kind of trial can be done safely, and >that it’s very much worth doing.”

That exactly what has not been demonstrated. A 20% change is not statistically significant in a test group of this size even if there had been a control group, and the placebo effect has not been controlled for. That's why I posted as I did -- it's junk science.

Again, LSD might be a breakthrough in therapy, unfortunately this study doesn't contribute to our scientific understanding.


True, but my understanding (which could be wrong; grain of salt and all that) is that the study was designed to determine whether a psychedelic could be used in a therapeutic environment safely. Now that that's been established--none of the subjects deaths were in any way related to the LSD--they will move on to trying to more accurately measure outcomes.


I hesitate to even bother in this environment, where anything other than studies that meet the standards of rigor of Hacker News are dismissed, however:

A lot of people have a lot of idea about it, because a lot of psychiatrists and psychotherapists used LSD on their patients (and themselves) before it was outlawed.


A friend of mine had very good results in work with micro-dosing - he took 1/10 of trip dose and was more focused and creative. He suffered no hallucinations or giggles.

EDIT: Just trying to give second good use of this substance. Easing the suffering of a terminally ill person is good. Enhancing creativity and focus in young person is also good.


To be fair, the article is about the polar opposite approach: Giving a full-bore hallucinogenic dose to people who are dying anyways so it really can't make their situation worse, and seeing if it helps them cope with the inevitable.

Which is very interesting. I always feel like the war on drugs is horribly unfair to people in end-of-life situations who really should have access to all the most destructive mind-altering chemicals to ease that.


Just to be fair, 'destructive' seems like a bad adjective to apply to LSD. It's way, way less toxic than alcohol, for example.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2010/11/drugs_caus... http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drug_danger_and_depen...

'Mind altering' yes, I will grant you that. But most things you ingest are mind altering. For example, this chocolate chip cookie I am eating now will shortly make me feel a burst of energy, but then shortly afterwards, sleepy and fat.


I believe it was Aldous Huxley who, on his death-bed, requested a mixture of LSD and Opiates to leave this world by.

Frankly, I applaud that kind of thinking.

EDIT: My apologies, I did not see dns's comment below, saying the same thing, but with actual links :)


I've never tried micro-dosing but those interested in the idea should check out Gwern's lengthy piece on the subject:

http://www.gwern.net/LSD%20microdosing


When this got posted before on HN the consensus was likely that the LSD got destroyed before he actually took any. I would really like to see that study done with more controlled dosing/storage.


The comments to that effect were balderdash.


Right, didn't realize that the article was updated to address some of the concerns that were initially left. Have you considered repeating the experiment with a slightly larger dosage?


No, not really. It's a relatively expensive and illegal habit, LSD has gotten much harder to get due to the black-market turmoil, and I think my experiment massively knocked down the already-low odds microdoses would do anything useful for me. It is unlikely I will ever revisit the topic unless some other high-quality blinded experiments are released.


I have tried microdosing. Took a sixth of a tab and disappeared for eight hours. When I emerged from this fugue state there was all this code there that wasn't there before~

In retrospect, that probably wasn't microdosing so much as it was just coding on acid.


...how was the code?


gp, you gotta let us know


terrible, of course. but I got my UIPercentDrivenAnimatedTransitions working at last and was able to tidy them up later. I think I spent the whole time just reading apple API docs. christ, what a waste of good acid.


Was this friend working in the laboratory then?


I'm glad the taboos around psychedelics research, especially as tools for therapy, are slowly falling down- there's some fascinating stuff in there.

To people who have never experienced drugs, grown up in a culture that demonizes them all indiscriminately, have a hard time wrapping their head around what they are/do exactly but are curious about them, I recommend this article by Sam Harris, a great neuroscientist[0]

For a slightly more in depth essay, Aldous Huxley's "Doors of Perception" [1] is a great book, albeit slightly dated.

There are also some extremely interesting synergies between the origins of the computer industry and the psychedelics/California counter culture era. John Markoff's "What the Dormouse Said" [2] is a fantastic read, although it requires knowing about computer history a little bit already. I learned from it that there was scientific research on LSD conducted in Menlo Park, a few blocks away from where I used to live.

There's also a great essay by Timothy Leary about parallels between psychedelics as tools for expanding the human mind and the computer as a tool to enhance the human brain in Brenda Laurel's book "Art of Human Computer Interaction Design". [3]

There's a great essay by Carl Sagan about his experiences using marijuana creatively/intellectually [4].

I had never tried any drugs before moving to California in my 20s, and had grown up in a fairly standard European culture of all drugs = the devil. Some changes occurred, and it turns out there's a really fascinating history and philosophy in there (especially w/ regards to parallels with computer history, as described in the aforementioned book).

[0]: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/drugs-and-the-meaning-of-...

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/The-Doors-Of-Perception-thINKing/dp/19...

[2]: http://www.amazon.com/What-Dormouse-Said-Counterculture-Pers...

[3]: http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Human-Computer-Interface-Desig...

[4]: http://marijuana-uses.com/mr-x/


"LSD - My Problem Child" is also well worth a read IMHO. It's by Hoffman and it tells the story of its discovery, also giving a few of his thoughts on what happened afterwards.

Personally I'm not a huge fan of the "wonder drug that will cure all ills and open your EYES man" theories that abound around psychedelics. They can certainly induce a sense of the profound but I'm not sure they actually produce profundity.

That said, long term changes to thought patterns and moods are certainly evident and I think research in this area could be very useful.

I also think it's a person's own business what they take, that the dangers of "drugs" are vastly and deliberately overstated, and that the drug war is an inhuman waste of lives, time and money. That probably makes me some sort of crazy hippy radical...


They can certainly induce a sense of the profound but I'm not sure they actually produce profundity.

What's the difference?


One of the classic effects of LSD (happens to many but by no means all users) is a sensation of ego death - ie, your sense of identity and who you are in the world is either eliminated or greatly changed. This, as you might imagine, is an extremely profound feeling ('a sense of the profound').

But, after coming down, does this experience have any grounding in reality? Did it 'actually produce profundity' or was it a hallucination, pure and simple?

Hope that helps capture the difference.


"Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather." - Bill Hicks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D0BeLz5blM


His stand ups are worth watching in their entirety too.


This is a subjective example but... In the last 6 months I've been prescribed medical cannabis and after trying it for the first time in my life I was able to understand and analyze both film and music more in-depth.

For example, although I had seen the Xena: Warrior Princess musical episode "The Bitter Suite" before numerous times it wasn't until under the influence was I able to emotionally and mentally understand the allegory of the episode.

Basically, the symbolism of Gabrielle having a "demon" child forced into her against her will, who Xena considered a monster and wanted to kill whilst Gabrielle blamed herself for it's inception is a very clear metaphor of a rape. It took a strong emotional attachment to the journey of the main characters to truly appreciate as well as understand the message encoded in the symbolism. It may not be "profound" as the meaning of everything but realizing that with my own devices was at least enlightening.

In my very limited experience mind altering drugs seem to turn off/lessen the assumptions one makes, to step outside the critical path and analyze information more in-depth.

[Edit] Correcting auto-correct


I'm here only to respond to you. I wish someone had warned me like this 9 years ago.

I understand how you're feeling about it. It was exactly like my first experience as well. 9 years later, I'm addicted. (Yes this is possible)

It's not apparent from the outside. Almost no one know that I smoke. I did lose my girl friend, who was pretty much the one for me. All warning signs were there, but I chose to ignore those. I'm able to hold on to an good programming job (ios/android programming) with a good salary, although I believe I am actually producing half my capacity, and having a lot more stress than needed. During the day, I can't wait to get home to smoke a little. Then a little more. Nights are pretty much a blur this way.

The effects you're experiencing fade away so slowly that it's hard to know when you're no longer actually enjoying the "high." And that's really dangerous, because you don't know that you might be getting addicted (everyone tells "marijuana is not addictive") so you smoke a bit more. Eventually it does end up consume you.

Some percentage of marijuana smokers do get addicted. I personally have quit smoking, never got addicted to drinking or anything else, and have never done any other drug. It almost feels impossible to stop weed though. I urge you to look it up online, there are forums where people talk about this.

So I suggest great precaution. See when you want to do it more, and more often. And when you start doing it instead of what you need to do. There's when danger is first realized, but often overlooked.

Maybe you're one of the lucky majority who will not get addicted -- in which case I envy you.

I hope the reason that this was prescribed to you is not very serious and you get well soon.


I was in the same boat as you are now. Plus I took other drugs as well from time to time. That went on for 7 years. Looking back at it know it's hard to imagine: during 7 years, I think there were only 2 or 3 days I did not smoke (or sometimes ate) weed. Now don't get me wrong: I had great fun and ultra creative moments a lot of times, produced quite nice music etc. But just as many times I was just high and not exactly creative at all, rather just laying in the couch like a zombie.

And then came the depression and all fun was gone, no matter how many drugs I would take in. Those days I would not even wish upon my worst enemies. They destroy you, and it takes a long time to get all pieces back together properly. Even now, again 7 years later, hooray for the magic number, I still have to cope with leftovers from back then.

So here's my suggestion to you: don't wait until the depression really kicks in, chances are high it will, but just quit asap. I know for a fact you won't believe me, neither did I, but it is actually way easier than you think it is (my experience + plus those of two friends). I just quit from one day to the other, never looked back, and the withdrawal effects were pretty mild - even pleasant. Here are some effects of quitting, as you will notice most are extremely postive.

- for a month or so I had a huge urge to be 'active' because I felt like I had tons of energy that had nowhere to go. Running biking, whatever. Sometimes I would just go out at night and climb trees. For fun. Didn't do that since I was a child.

- you start to remember things. Randomly. From your childhood, from a couple of years earlier, ... It's weird. I never knew where and why my brain kept those but suddenly they would just pop up.

- at the same time, the depression started to fade, also gone where the endless thought-circles about life in all it's aspects, and my position in it. I still have those thoughts, but they don't go in endless circles anymore, instead now I come to conclusions

- as a result of that, social interaction came back (not back to normal as it never was before, but back to acceptable levels anyway)

- as a result of that, I found a girlfriend, soon to be wife and likely mother of children

- one downside: from time to time there's still an extremely strong urge to get completely wasted. Now I always had this, the typical craving and search for a high, but after quitting with weed it only became stronger. Like my mind is still addicted to being altered. Lots of sports helps to suppress it, but I admit sometimes I still go wild, mainly on alcohol and preferrably when I'm my own. Seems like a small price to pay though.


Buddy, do yourself a favor, stop reading online forums and go see a psychologist. You're blaming "addiction" but that's a smokescreen (sorry for the pun).


Sorry for being blunt, so you are putting your problems, your inner fight and challenges on cannabis?


I appreciate bluntness; here's my blunt response to that thought.

Your comment and the comment you replied to have very quickly established an argument with two sides, a duality. This is a tired old debate that is based on a confused pseudo-theory about human nature.

I'll just address the side you have chosen. You're postulating that the person who has issues with the drug probably has issues in general. The logic seems to be that since the drug has no will of its own, it is a kind of neutral object that should not be blamed. Fine; that's reasonable enough.

But is there also an aspect of defensiveness? That is, this herb has a positive valence for you, and so any negativity associated with it must be shifted towards some essential source -- so that the neutrality of the drug is maintained.

Personally I think it's both amusing and sad that it's so difficult to have a rational, clear-headed conversation about these things. Part of that is probably because the issue of criminality looms in the background, making everything into a heavily value-loaded "statement," causing stigma and demonization and, on the flip side, valorization and blame-shifting.

It's the same thing but much worse with stronger psychedelics. The whole discussion becomes "are they good or evil?" And by extension, "are people who use it good or evil?" It's simply stupid, unenlightened, regressive.

Because the real discussion is "What should we do given that these molecules do exist?" How should we think about them? When are they useful and when do they cause harm? How do these particular kinds of harm work? How can we provide help and guidance to people who -- for whatever reason -- experience these molecules as a negative, seductive, destructive presence in their lives? How can we harness whatever good potential they have? Etc etc etc.

We're treating these molecules as if they were capricious Olympic gods, but they're just substances that happen to affect the human mind in different ways.


Lets have that amazing discussion then.

People who use drugs, needs them. If they can come to terms of not blaming drugs and continue using them, its fine. One can be drunk all his life and its good, because sober, he lost faith in humanity. One might understand that there is no point in anything and he can't live on unless he is doped up with something, either it be food, alcohol, cocaine, TV shows or workout. Whatever negativity you experience while on drugs can be great revelation to yourself and about yourself. Good potential is not only happy thoughts and work performance, clearer mind, but also the depths of hell you have crawled out(or not). And also what your actions changed in other people around. It is so complicated and fascinating.

What should we do? What is "Harm"? Injury, pain, depression, death? What is wrong in experiencing that? Or Fear? Could it be that drug war is beneficial to respecting and accepting drugs?

Can only really corrupt politician wake up the masses? And how many times it will repeat and repeat and repeat. When will one needs to change his way of life and thinking and throw away previous behavior completely.

And having conversation online by text is so uncomfortable for me, sorry, I can't write and hold thought long.


That's a possibility. I might find out once (if?) I can quit for good. I wonder what might be hiding under that hazy mind.

I still suggest reading more about this, because it is not as well known as it needs to be. I actually found about http://www.reddit.com/r/leaves on this thread. I'd recommend you to check it out if you have a little time.

I want to call out that I'm not against legalization, or people who can do it without any issues. I just want to point out that there are some of us who are actually having a lot of problems with it, and some care needs to be taken. This substance does require some respect and I feel totally powerless in handling it.


medical cannibals

Are those anything like medical leeches?


this is an interesting post, i think it points at fundamental differences in how people think. why would it be any less real if it was a drug-induced experience created entirely by the mind? your normal waking form of consciousness is a drug-induced experience created entirely by the mind, the only difference is the difference in binding affinities of your natural neurotransmitters vs. some psychoactive drug. in my opinion, the profundity IS the feeling, the experience - there is no separation. your philosophy seems to come from a paradigm of knowledge trumping experience, but mine is just the opposite.


i'm not sure you've really answered the question, though i get your point.

one of the things LSD illustrates with intensity is that perception is reality. it blurs the line between between what is "profound" and "real" and "fake" and reassures you the line never existed in the first place. and really, it may not.

what is profound is not necessarily only what you conclude, but the experience itself. watching your mind and conscious contemplate and imagine in ways you literally couldn't have even contemplated or imagined.


I only heard about this phenomenon with shroom, good to know.


Both molecules are very similar and have been theorized to act very similarly in the way they affect neurotransmitters. However, as anyone who has experienced both will tell you, they are quantifiably and qualitatively different.


thanks for the reply, you seem knowledgeable about chemicals. Thoughts on DMT and Mescaline?


Thanks, I only have slight reading knowledge of the subjects (mostly Wikipedia, then following the sources at the end of the page). I've never done DMT or Mescaline though they seem fairly similar in affect, but extremely different in intensity and duration. My days with psychedelics have been few and far between for a while, though I'm sure there are others on here who have experimented heavily with these. I recommend checking Reddit too for a more diverse intellectual, social, and experience set regarding these types of chemicals.


I disagree that mescaline or any psychedelic is similar to DMT. Perhaps in a sensory deprivation tank. But it's not a question of intensity. DMT often lasts 10-20 minutes and has a near undeniable effect that you just traveled to another dimension. In my opinion, taking other psychedelics will just distort your environment.

DMT is nearly identical to serotonin and tryptophan, and similar to psilocybin and mesclaine. Whatever it does to the brain, it's not a typical effect of any other drug I'm aware of.


I asked because a friend of mine told me his experience felt like he was "watching his body from up above in the universe" and that it felt like he was stuck in a nightmare for a week.

seriously scared me from any desire to try.


One of the greatest risks is integration issues. Trying to square your experience with everyday life. I have experimented with DMT approximately 20 times over many years. It feels like skydiving through time and dimensions.

After 20 minutes you feel 90% normal. It's like having the most intense profound dream. You can have a fleeting sensation of wanting to return to the experience. But it is not addictive in my opinion.

Joe Rogan's given some eloquent descriptions of it. When he says it's like meeting God in a universe full of love, he's being literal. It feels natural. There's a sensation of an intelligence understanding force communicating with you. Making sense of it can be extremely challenging. I'd caution against doing it if you have any hesitation.


wow, thank you for the personal anecdote.

If you care to respond, were you aware of your surroundings/your body/your existence, or did everything not matter in the moment?

Is there any sense of time progression? Do you remember everything right after?

Can you hear any sounds from the environment you are in? (tv, radio etc)

It seems like this is something you would want to try only after being at a point in life where you are stable, mentally (emotionally), and physically (health).

Such a fascinating topic, thanks for sharing your knowledge.


oh yeah, how reputable is erowid for information, do you recommend it or is there a better repository?


Actual profound thought (to me) would be a meaningful realisation about yourself or the universe around you. LSD can make you feel this moment of profound realisation about things which are absolute nonsense.

This cheese is my brother, we'd all be at peace if everyone wore purple, god is a piece of bread with butter on both sides. When on acid these sorts of things can feel (subjectively) like the most awesome discovery, like the opening up of a whole new world of knowledge. Examined objectively afterwards they don't make a lot of sense, but subjectively, at the time, they felt extremely important.

That's all I meant.


I don't agree but you made me laugh


A profound revelation, I would imagine in this sense, is being defined as being based on experience that corresponds with some fact about yourself or the world as it actually is.

E.g. A fact about yourself - realising that you love someone.

A fact about the world - realising that all matter is energy condensed.

At least taking the "open your EYES man" statement at face value. But a profound experience on hallucinogenics is realising that ... ? What's the mechanism even meant to be to entangle the experience to the reality it supposedly represents?

Of course, there is the other meaning of the word; great, intense. Profoundly in love, profound hatred - and so on. Certainly drugs can induce that sort of profundity.


The drug experience fades with time, whereas the present remains experience.

That's probably not what I'd be thinking while tripping, more likely, at last, this is it, GOD!

and then Eden-like fading away into memory.


Before entering the corporate work place I never touched anything. Once my one coworker started talking about it, the whole chain revealed itself, now it's super social to go smoke a joint with my bosses after work and have a beer, I love it.

I wonder how much I'm actually destroying my health by smoking weed every day, drinking coffee, and having some alcohol at least in a minor capacity.

I feel as if the emotional/mental pain I suffered by not having any outlet greatly outweighs the physical damage I'm doing to myself.

Now that I smoke/drink while working most of the time (self unemployed), I find that I am much more productive because I'm enjoying myself the entire time. Tunes, a drink, a smoke, and code.

Never seen talk on HN about drugs really. What's your routine like with HN? What are your experiences?


I thought I had things under control with weed. Gradually I realised I was using it to cope with chronic depression due to an earlier personal tragedy.

Weed probably is great when things are actually in order in your life, but you may be losing contact with reality precisely because it makes it possible to enjoy yourself the entire time. I think you have to be very mindful of that.

It's a painful processes, turning to face life directly, but I feel like I'm managing to do so day by day. Part of this processes involves speaking to a psychiatrist and starting an SNRI prescription.

I do plan to smoke weed again, cautiously, once things are "in order".

It's funny - when I used to smoke weed, I always felt like I needed to clear my daily todo list before hand. I would take out the trash I should have taken out, put clothes in the laundry, maybe respond to some lingering emails. It was quite productive.

Now I'm recapitulating that pattern at a higher level in life. At least, I hope that's what's happening...


Thank you for this - I'm always concerned that people miss this. I recall someone I know noticing that they just didn't enjoy smoking anymore, and it was actually making them more anxious. Without going into a discussion about why this happened, it took them a long time to realize this because they were rationalizing their use, and using more to counter the fact that they were feeling "off" after the regular amount.

As a non-smoker, it's one of my fears that if this happens again, I won't be able to convince one of my smoking friends that this is happening to them. Mental dependence seems insidious in that way. Any pointers? Experiences to share?


this experience was mine, too. i really liked it at first, and grew to hate it because i kept doing it even though i didn't want to.

reddit.com/r/leaves is a great resource for quitting. if you read the posts there, you'll see that same story over and over and over.


nice comment


A vaporizer is perhaps a bit less social, but I find that it is much easier on my lungs than smoking. I'd recommend looking into them. I'm turned off by the pen-form factor/vapor liquid/nicotine scene, but a small vaporizer for ground plant matter is great.

One problem with vaporizers is that there isn't a great word to use to describe the action of using one. "Vap" sounds lame or maybe even show-offy, so I just use the word "smoke". ;)

Alcohol is what I truly appreciate though. The reason I smoke is so that when I want to unwind and tune out, I have options other than alcohol every time. Heavy long term alcohol use can be very bad for you, but by giving myself other healthier options I've managed to get my drinking back to 4-8 times a month (always Wednesdays, sometimes Fridays). Alcohol is what I love/fear, weed is what I entertain myself with between flings with booze.

I am starting to suspect that caffeine is a net-negative force in my life, as it constantly jostles my sleep schedule.


The social aspects of vaporizers probably depends on who you hang with. Everyone who I regularly get high with strictly uses a vaporizer when we are hanging out (or occasionally shares edibles). Not a lot of smoking going on. Of course, I am in my mid-30's and have friends of the same age or older, and most of these friends have stable jobs, such that spending $250+ on a vaporizer is a no-brainer.

The verb "vape" is what is commonly used with the people I know. It's not show-offy if vaporizing is commonplace. This is more recent, and I just said "use a vaporizer" in the past if I wanted to be specific.

Personally, I own both a non-portable vaporizer that can fill bags (Herbelaire) and a portable vaporizer (Pax). Both are used frequently and are easy to share with friends. I still smoke, but that is only maybe 10% of the time. I've been vaping for the last 17 years, starting with a home-made vaporizer made using a soldering iron.

As for alcohol: I enjoy it, but I rarely have the desire to drink it for it's intoxicating effects lately. I really enjoy the taste of beer (and wine is good too), but it's becoming rare that I actually want to drink one. What changed is that I started getting back in shape and exercising frequently (well, moderately). Due to being a new parent, I often get my exercise around 9pm-10pm as that is the only time that works for me. That means many nights, alcohol is just not an option. Also, I have been fairly consistent in eliminating unhealthy foods (I can count the number of times I have a sugary dessert in a month on one hand), and I've started to see beer as unnecessary calories. The fact that I lost enough weight to stop snoring is just affirmation that I should stick with this. I'll save drinking beer for social situations, rather than something I have with dinner.


Alcohol is probably much worse than weed or coffee over the long run. It's exceedingly hard to slowly poison your liver and brain over the course of a lifetime by smoking herb. It's easier than you think to do it drinking alcohol.

I'm not a teetotaler by any means. I drink a couple of glasses of something pretty much every other day. But that's about the limit of what a healthy, adult male should be drinking. Any more than that, especially over the long run, and you're setting loose a lot of chickens that will come home to roost when you're older.

I don't smoke weed with nearly the frequency I did when I was young. That's got less to do with my beliefs about its health effects, and more to do with being too busy. But every now and then, sure. Sharing a couple of beers and a joint is a fantastic social experience.

On a related note: SF is one of the most weed-friendly towns I've ever lived in, and there is virtually no stigma whatsoever here. One time I saw a dude light up right outside the freaking airport baggage claim, in broad daylight, and nobody around him seemed to care.


8 glasses of wine a week, at 250 ml per glass is 2 litres.

Weak 10% ABV wine would be 20 units. Normal 12.5% ABV would be 25 units. Strong 15% ABV wine would be 30 units.

UK advice is no more than 3 to 4 units per day for men, with a couple of days free of alcohol and no "saving up" of units for a binge. (The old advice was 21 units per week for men.)

http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/alcohol/Pages/Alcoholhome.aspx

Drinking above that limit long term has some health consequences

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Effectsofalcohol.as...

Problem drinking has several definitions, but NICE recommend assisted withdrawal at 30 units per day. (15 to 20 per day if there are co morbid severe mental health problems).

I don't care if people use cannabis (and I am strongly in favour of legalisation) but I fucking hate the refusal of many cannabis users to even contemplate any negative effects of cannabis.


"I don't care if people use cannabis (and I am strongly in favour of legalisation) but I fucking hate the refusal of many cannabis users to even contemplate any negative effects of cannabis."

Don't get me wrong; I don't refuse to contemplate the negative effects of cannabis, of which quite a few have been hypothesized, some observed. When I said "alcohol is probably much worse than weed," I didn't say "weed is a free lunch." Just want to make sure I'm clear on that.

There are cannabinoid receptors in the brain (and other organs). Our current understanding of them is far from complete, and we know that smoking weed habitually will reregulate them, and not necessarily for the better. I'm not one of those hippy-dippy types who thinks there are no ramifications involved in smoking weed.


I don't like the denial either. I had a girlfriend who got baked everyday. She always wondered why I didn't take her seriously. I wonder though if smoking a little weed might make programming more enjoyable? Right now I find programming tedious(just following directions--exact directions). I'm a very novice programmer, and that is probably the reason?


"Right now I find programming tedious(just following directions--exact directions). I'm a very novice programmer, and that is probably the reason?"

I would say that your current experience with programming is probably more a reflection on how much what you are programming actually interests you. You might be able to think of programming like painting; maybe you are painting a picket fence and find it to be the most boring thing in the world, or maybe you are painting a bunch of robots blowing each other up on a canvas. Some programming is dull and tedious, some programming is exciting and vibrant. Some people just don't like painting, and prefer pottery.

Can weed help? That seems plausible to me. Weed can make a shitty movie seem better, maybe it can help you enjoy your programming work more.

If you want to try that out, I recommend a sativa strain, not indica.


I've known a few programmers who can, but I most definitely can not.

I started out as a [web and print] designer in my late teens and was stoned all the time. It seemed like a dream to me - stoned and productive. As I moved into programming in my early twenties, I found myself completely unproductive when high. Very much akin to reading a book while very stoned, where I'd find myself reading the same page for a while, and then while trying to focus, read the same sentence 20 times and realize I haven't comprehended a thing. My attention span wanders far too much. And now, about 15 years into my profession as a programmer, any more than the smallest toke will make me completely incapable of coding effectively (though I can generally think programming problems through just fine).

As a comparison, I've programmed drunk plenty of times. These days, after a couple whiskeys, I'm fairly useless - although I think that's more a case of "I'd rather relax than work" over being incapacitated.


I used to as a student 13 years back. I preferred it. I have a proper job now so I don't. Slowed me down a bit, but I was also a bit more thorough, not making silly mistakes by rushing things. So overall, probably more productive.

I never tried drunk, but I doubt it would work for me.


Ever thought that maybe the fact that you didn't take her seriously had little to do with her smoking weed?


As someone who is addicted to cannabis, I strongly agree. It definitely has risks, and people should be aware of them. Of course it should be legal, but kids still need to be educated about the risks in school.


I agree with you on alcohol, but what's the problem with coffee? I'm curious because I drink it by the gallon.


The jury's still out on coffee in aggregate. Caffeine is a stimulant, and generally speaking, it has a host of positive effects on your processing speed, alertness, etc. Coffee may even have long-term positive effects there, though the evidence is inconclusive. Additionally, it might be neuroprotective.

There have been conflicting and sometimes contradictory reports on coffee's effects on cancer, cardiovascular disease, etc. Many studies suggest coffee has anticancer properties; other studies suggest it promotes certain types of cancer. Same thing with arteriosclerosis.

In terms of dependency, caffeine has been shown pretty conclusively to be habit-forming and dependence-forming. Almost anyone who's been a longtime coffee drinker and quits cold turkey will experience the side effects. But it's not clear whether coffee is doing you long-term harm, long-term good, or some combination of the two that nets out to being positive, negative, or neutral.

For my part, I've been drinking coffee every day since junior high. My stance is that it's been a net-positive in my life, regardless of what price I may pay later on. But that's one man's opinion. Not a scientific observation.

Also worth noting: coffee, marijuana, and alcoholic beverages are complex substances. There are active compounds in coffee other than caffeine. There are active compounds in alcoholic drinks other than ethanol. There are active compounds in weed other than THC. Studies that isolate the effects of any of these compounds aren't necessarily indicative of the effects of the substances themselves.


Everything excess in life is poison. Like they say, it is possible that you hate a thing which is good for you [emotional/mental pain], and love a thing which is bad for you [being a drunk].


Maybe. I'm not convinced that when things are going well we should try to make things go badly just to "feel the downswing too." I think it more has to do with the fact that life can have ups and downs, they aren't easily predictable, and one shouldn't be afraid to face them both in stride.


"I wonder how much I'm actually destroying my health by smoking weed every day, drinking coffee, and having some alcohol at least in a minor capacity."

Probably not at all. Cue the "correlation isn't causality" soundbite, but coffee consumption is negatively correlated with developing Parkinson's disease, and moderate consumption of alcohol has been shown by many studies to correlate with positive cardiovascular status. Haven't researched the literature on associations of weed with positive health outcomes, but it's interesting that smoking weed doesn't correlate with developing lung cancer.

You're probably just fine so long as moderation is your mode.


Personally, I don't use any illicit drugs, smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or drink coffee. I never have done any of these things either. I used to drink soda pop, but I cut that out of my diet a few years ago. I'm not even really tempted to start any of these things either. Sometimes people give me some flack about it, but I'm used to that by now, and once they get to know me they drop the issue (except for a few people who simply refuse to let it go).

I don't know how much this is positively affecting my health, or if it is at all.


sounds like fun


When you stop smoking weed every day you have insanely vivid dreams for a few days, that's the only noticeable side effect I had. Weed can sap motivation if you let it too


I've had that happen to me when I have fallen asleep while high (sativa, if it makes any different). I avoid doing that now; the dreams were never frightening or disturbing.. just kind of creepy how vivid they were.


marijuana and writing code go together like song and lyric


It actually has the opposite effect for me.. Getting a little faded cranks up my usual ADD to the point where I can't do much of any productive work.

The things I could do with better focus and less of a need to seek novelty....


> The things I could do with better focus and less of a need to seek novelty....

Isn't it a need to seek novelty that makes you want to do those things?


To a point, but if you've blazed once you're not experiencing much new each time you do it. (At least I don't :P)

My problem is that anything, no matter how cool, rapidly becomes boring and uninteresting to me. Whether that be a game or a programming language or a project. Probably the single greatest stumbling block to advancing my career, knowledge, and overall life.


I have experience from three different substances that I thought I'd share.

The first other substance that I tried and did so several times was something called "Spice". It was legal in my country for the time being and you could order it online quite cheap actually.

It is a substance created to be as similar as cannabis and to be legal. However a couple of years ago they banned it in my country. The experience of the substance was pretty bad actually, but since I was so young and hadn't really done anything else I had nothing to compare it to. The first time I got really high on it was with my childhood friends. We sat on a bench in a small forest and lighted it up in a bong. I took several hits and felt nothing special at the moment.

So we started walking and soon I began to feel something, it was walking in a mist (not visually) but my head started to feel thicker and suddently we'd walked over 1km and it felt like it was in a blink of an eye. I started to panick since I had no idea what was going on and felt pretty scared. Every step I took my knees itched so bad and it wasn't very pleasant at all. It took more than 1 hour before I calmed down and I thought my heart would collapse or something. That experience sucked basically. But after that hour, I began to enjoy it a little but not that much. The drug mainly made you feel scared and it wasn't the best drug I've tried.

Second drug to do was cannabis if I recall it correctly. It was hasch and the I didn't feel much at all. It took me several tries (in seperate occations) until I finally got high. The experience from hasch was much better than spice. Imo, you can't even compare the two since the experience is so different, at least for me. I've also done marijuana several times and it is a really good drug, much better than its brown sister hasch from the times I've tried it anyway.

My weirdest experience is altough on LSA which is also legal in my country and we ordered it online, just as spice. As our understanding goes it's some kind of seed from a plant or something. So we just swallowed some with water. It is supposed to make you feel ill in the stomach in the beginning since I think it's poisionous for humans and I felt a little ill a while. But after like 1.5 hours the illness was completely gone but I didn't feel a thing.

So me and my friend walked around in our neighborhood and looked at stuff. It took a while until I realized this drug doesn't make you feel high at all. I was completely clear in my mind and I don't think I've ever been so clear-minded before or after taking that drug. It was a wonderful "feeling" and in those days I didn't program but if I would I think it would be a perfect fit. After spending some time, me and my friend seperated and I walked home. I looked upon myself in the mirror and I could not see any color in my eyes, just black and white (almost). It was a very very wierd experience since I looked so strange, but I didn't feel anything special unless more emotional and very clear-minded. I thought a lot on my life in general and what I wanted to do with it and so on. I felt happy in short, I felt that my life was really headed in a good direction and everything was basically good.

The clear-mindedness just continued through the day but as the drug wore of, so did the clearness of everything.

Unfortunately, several years after this usage my friend committed suicide and he had a lot of problems with drugs. But the problems did not originate in the drugs but rather on his family situation. He was a very intelligent guy and I miss him. He was depressed for a long time and even when we contacted the authorities for help he recieved none.

I hope you guys will get something from my experiences :) my general stand on drugs is very liberal even if a tragic event has happened in my life because I know the drugs weren't the real issue, just an escape.


Hey man thanks for sharing. The spice sounds terrible and I've heard nothing but horror stories. Sorry for your loss.


Electric Kool-aid Acid Test[0] by Tom Wolfe is an interesting perspective on LSD as well. It starts with the main character, Ken Kesey, taking part in the CIA-run LSD experiments in Menlo Park. The book details his journey from straight-laced-not-even-alcohol to driving a psychedelic bus across the country and finishing with large-scale public acid trips -- all before LSD was criminalized.

[0]: http://www.amazon.com/The-Electric-Kool-Aid-Acid-Test/dp/031...

[Edit to fix run-on sentence]


I second the reference to Doors of Perception. If you folks have the time, and you haven't already read about Sasha (Alexander Shulgin), give it a whirl. Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Shulgin

There's a movie on his life, isn't great but it's a decent watch, Dirty Pictures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA8ddx_iC_g


If you haven't read it, you should check out Hallucinations, by the neurologist Oliver Sacks. His books in general are super fascinating, but there's a really interesting section on drugs in that one, and specifically mentions psychedelics a number of times (which isn't a shock considering it's a book on hallucinations).

http://www.amazon.com/Hallucinations-Oliver-Sacks/dp/0307957...


If anyone is seriously considering taking LSD please check for drug/chemical interactions first

Most drugs have zero effect if you have ptsd, clinical depression and schizoaffective or similar; LSD will probably make it worse and party drugs (amphetamines) won't work on you. Everyone else will get high, and you'll be bored and sober.


Hallucinogens have done wnders for my PTSD and depression issues. Please do not confuse them with Amphetamines or other non-hallucinogens.

That said, if you are on MAOI's or SSRI's, you would do well to end their use before attempting any hallucinogen stronger than cannabis.


yes that's my concern (drug interactions) I've seen curious users mix all kinds of things without checking first, and they've never had any experience in doing drugs (either legal or illegal) and end up worse off

In terms of reactions, I think it varies from person to person. Generally speaking though, hallucinogens aggravate existing psychotic disorders. If you suffer from PTSD/depression it's not a psychotic disorder (so it's relatively safe for you to take).

Curiously enough, a subset of patients suffering from ptsd/depression/anxiety don't experience the euphoria associated with amphetamines. I'm sorry if I didn't word myself clearly enough


They'd probably have better results if they did their experiment outdoors.


My mother suffered from cluster headaches recently (the worst pain you can endure in life they say).

Apparently mushrooms and LSD are unofficial treatments. When asked, her doctor encouraged her to use mushrooms ...

Apparently a non-psychedelic version of LSD could be made but it's difficult to justify spending millions in research with the official stance regarding drugs.

I'm glad change seems to come, albeit slowly ...


I know nothing about her diagnostic, but I have had severe migraine like that in the past. Manifests as a strong pain behind one eye and sometimes the neck. It's so strong you can't even think right, you just crawl to a dark room and wait it go away. You know it's coming when you start seeing visual artifacts and/or develop tunnel vision. If her symptoms are like that, read along.

In my case it was simply stress. Sleep deprivation, a lot of caffeine and stiff neck, jaw muscles all the time. It stopped overnight once I quit a stressful job, changed my lifestyle and cut back on caffeine. I didn't consulted with a doctor, because I knew I would be prescribed some heavy stuff. While I had the crisis, the only thing that worked to subdue the pain were muscle relaxants and a hot shower, headache/migraine drugs I've had already been prescribed did nothing, so I knew it was psychosomatic.

Take that with a huge grain of salt, as it's just one anecdote... but in the face of taking psychotropics at own risk, she might want to try that first.


Yes, there's a non-hallucinogenic derivative of LSD that might be an effective treatment for cluster headaches.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2-Bromo-LSD

My wife suffers from refractory migraine headaches - somewhat different from cluster headaches, but near neighbors on the chronic headache agony spectrum. I wish there were a clinical trial of 2-B-LSD she could join. Absent that, I'm building a TCDS system for her. Necessity & invention, etc.


There are already analogues of hallucinogens used to treat headaches/migraines. They've been around for decades...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumatriptan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methysergide


I remember watching a documentary about exactly that use for LSD. I don't remember the name of the docu. but I found the following link:

http://news.sciencemag.org/brain-behavior/2011/06/lsd-allevi...


Did the mushrooms help?


They have been ordered but not received yet.


I heard from a friend who gets bad migraines that you do not need to take a full dose, causing psychedelic effects, in order to get the relief/prevention. She said that a half dose prevented migraines for about two weeks. I do not know if the same strategy would work for cluster headaches, or even if it's a universally applicable characteristic of the drug, but if your mother is not the adventurous type or is unsure about tripping, she may want to try a smaller amount first to see if she can get the prevention without the mind-altering effects. Good luck in any case.


Yes it's true. That was a deciding factor to try it as she is against drugs for herself by fear of bad trip :)

The only downside (well except the breaking the law thing) is only that you have to be off the regular treatment to try it, so you may have to endure the pain for some days.


Unpopular opinion penguin:

If you're in tech and have not done LSD; you should notbe in tech.


I wouldn't put it so absolutely, but I agree that the kind of people who manipulate some of the most complex systems ever devised by humankind, are the kind of people who would probably benefit greatly from a trip.


True, but then my statement wouldn't be meme-y enough :)


This stuff can be no surprise to many of us, right? I'm not sure I would have made it out of the darkness of my formative years without those profound psychotropic experiences I had as a young man.


They should reconsider MDMA for therapy as well, there was no good reason to ban it, and it was working well for people with post traumatic stress syndrome, people with terminal illnesses etc.


This is not new. It is known for depression treatment for a long time.


Glad to see a return to awakening.


Yes, let's all get high so we won't face any of our problems...

What a load of garbage. This is science?! No, it's a fucking fraud.


Way to go, Obamacare.




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