Microdosing—taking tiny doses of hallucinogens—is becoming increasingly popular as a way to help manage mental health issues. But what happens when you do it with your partner? We asked Field Trip Health psychotherapist Dr. Mike Dow to share his thoughts on whether microdosing with your partner can increase intimacy.
First, a little explainer on what microdosing actually is. “Microdosing usually refers to taking a very small dose of either LSD or psilocybin, the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms,’” Dr. Dow says. He adds that generally, a microdose is 1/10th of the usual dose for a full psychedelic experience every three-ish days. “People do it to enhance creativity, enhance well-being, and manage pain,” he says.
“While we have good published data on ketamine, LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy at their full/psychedelic dose, there isn’t much data on microdosing. In fact, the first double-blind placebo controlled microdoses trial was only published in 2019, and it showed that microdosing did change subjects’ perception of time,” Dr. Dow says. He hopes to see more research get published.
“With that being said, that means that most of the benefits are anecdotal and are reported by users sharing stories with each other and on Reddit, etc. One study did suggest that psilocybin increased emotional empathy—but, again, this was not looking at microdosed psilocybin,” Dr. Dow says.
Here’s what this can mean for relationships:
It can help you feel less stuck
“Theoretically and via anecdotal stories from my patients (who sometimes come to Field Trip after trying psychedelics on their own, either to medicate their own mental illness or recreationally), some say microdosing helped them with openness and helped them feel less stuck in their relationships. We know that full doses of psychedelics help to dim or turn down the ego, feel at one with all living beings, and feel connected to something greater … so many people are now making the jump to say: ‘Well, if that works with a full therapeutic dose, then perhaps microdosing will help a bit.’”
It can help with emotional communication and empathy
“While most people are talking about psilocybin and LSD when they use the term ‘microdosing,’ I’m personally more interested in using microdoses of ketamine and MDMA in the future—and what research says in the future. We offer ketamine-assisted couples therapy at Field Trip, and I generally like to start with medium- to high-dose sessions individually and then do low or ‘microdosed’ ketamine for the couples sessions—since people tend to stay verbal the whole time. While people aren’t usually talking about ketamine when they say ‘microdosing,’ I’d say that very low doses of ketamine can provide a ‘microdosed’ experience.”
“MDMA is a very strong empathogen (heart-opening, creates empathy, emotional communion). Ketamine also has empathogenic qualities—and I’ve anecdotally seen in my patients this is true at lower doses.” (Dr. Dow also notes that ketamine-assisted couples therapy includes screening for physical/psychiatric conditions that may contraindicate psychedelics; one benefit of ketamine is that it doesn’t interfere with most existing psychotropic medication.)
If you’re interested in learning more:
“If a couple would like to do this work legally, they can reach out to us at Field Trip for ketamine-assisted couples therapy, which is a new offering for us…While I can’t recommend people do something illegal, I am aware of the fact that there are many underground guides who offer therapy with psychedelics that are illegal.”
(Dr. Dow makes it clear that Field Trip and Field Trip at Home only provide psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy that is legal. Since psilocybin and other psychedelic substances are still illegal under U.S. federal law, most people obtain the medicine for microdosing from the black market. “Me talking about or citing the benefits does not imply I am recommending that people do this,” Dr. Dow adds.)
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