More Mainstream Women Are Microdosing Their Way to Happiness
Tiny highs are a way of ditching anti-depressants and making life better.
Plenty of women like to smoke weed and often use other recreational drugs for healing effects. If these women, many of whom are mothers, want to exist in mainstream America (i.e.: PTA meetings, soccer league, full-time jobs, friends, school, etc.), they’re often hiding their drug use. Even with widespread legalization in this country, mothers are still being put in jail for using pot, and a whole lot more are cast out of their social and/or familial groups. Especially when they start microdosing mushrooms and LSD.
Women are coming out with their microdosing stories—personal anecdotes of self-administered small amounts of cannabis and psilocybin—as an augmentation to their mental health regimens, and to treat a lot of ailments that plague women and mothers. Like stress. Many women claim that this non-traditional drug route allows them to steer clear of addictive anti-depressants and painkillers, while still feeling really good.
The National Institutes of Health defines microdosing as 1/100th of the expected pharmacological dose. In drug talk, that means dosing a teeeeeeny amount of psychedelics or cannabis to improve your daily life. The whole point is not to feel like you're tripping, or really even feel high.
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Writer Claire Vaye Watkins wrote an essay for the New Republic that taps into her personal experience with weed, drugs, and motherhood. After reading Ayelet Waldman’s book, A Really Good Day, about microdosing LSD leading to her life changing for the good, Watkins wanted in. Watkins writes in the essay:
I’ve long agreed with Waldman that “practitioners, even the best ones, still lack a complete understanding of the complexity and nuance both of the many psychological mood disorders and of the many pharmaceuticals available to treat them.” So when I finished the prologue to A Really Good Day, I set the book down and left my therapist a voicemail announcing my plan to wean myself off Celexa. Then I went on reading. I did not mention the new-old mystic’s medicine beckoning me—the third eye, the open door.
According to Journal of the American Medical Association, more Americans are using antidepressants than ever. A good chunk of those are women who are not offered any alternative care for mental maladies. The stigma against (quote) hard (unquote) drugs, imposed because most of these street substances are illegal, is a big problem for mainstream women and mothers. However, breaking the law is less worrisome to many women than their concern over the long-term effects of SSRI chemicals found in popular anti-depressants.
Watkins worried about taking antidepressants forever:
“I worry about the negative effects of taking an SSRI long-term. The daughter of hippies, a flower grandchild, I don’t trust the pharmaceutical industry to prioritize my wellness over their profits.”
The New Republic writer got off the pills and opted for pot. When she gets the opportunity, she plans to try microdosing LSD to see if she will reap the positive effects she’s heard about.
LSD allowed A Really Good Day author Ayelet Waldman to battle her depression, feel content and present. She says that the changes were immediate, though she quit the process after a month in fear that she could be arrested. She tells Well + Good:
“Normally when you stop feeling depressed, the change is gradual—you almost don’t notice it because you feel a little better each day. But with this, the change was immediate. One day, I was desperate enough to commit a crime and take an illegal drug. And the next day I felt good.”
More women seem willing to talk about drugs, womanhood, and motherhood than ever before. Perhaps it’s because more information is readily available, and there are more choices when it comes to drugs. And, hey, pot is relatively legal in a lot of places, and that opens the choices to microdose weed too.
LSD and shrooms are harder to acquire, and may have a more significant impact.
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Thanks to Reddit, A. Khan decided to take a microdose of mushrooms to treat migraines. She'd tried for 30 years to curb her massive headaches and had popped painkillers and just about everything else to ease her pain. Her struggle, like many others, has been to find the exact dose to fit her needs, a problem many doctors fear with prescribing LSD or shrooms as treatment. She explains, though, that once she figured it out, microdosing changed her life:
I’m not microdosing exactly according to the every-four-days protocol, because of my headaches. If I wake up with a full-blown migraine, I’ll take a strong painkiller, and I don’t want to mix in mushrooms as well. I had a full week of intense headaches recently, so no microdosing. That’s one thing I like about mushrooms: If I don’t want to dose one week, there’s no detox effect. I can stop—no mess, no fuss. There has been no proven physical addiction to psychedelics such as mushrooms or LSD (although you can build up a tolerance, hence the protocol). I don’t jones for the next dose; I can take it or leave it.
Cannabis is often cited providing relief for depression and anxiety; so it's no surprise that even microdosing weed has been a lifesaver for many. And with the progress in terpene research, women can treat their ailments accordingly. For example, certain cannabis strains contain aromatic terpene molecules such as myrcene (found in mangos and proven to help with depression), limonene (also an anti-depressive), or linalool (lavender) for sweet relief. Straight CBD provides a no-high trip that will calm you the fuck down, but smaller doses of THC have proven worthy for chilling too.
A 2007 study found that low doses of THC can increase serotonin levels in mice. Although there is no clinical consensus on whether or not low serotonin levels cause depression, the majority of pharmacological treatments for depression (SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) focus on increasing serotonin levels.
For some women, turning to microdosing to address their problems takes a little time. The effective dose needs to be figured out, but that can be a healthy process, unlike prescription meds, which give women little-to-no fine-tuning over how they feel.
"When I started smoking again, I was getting high to the point where I didn't leave my bed, but eventually, I started essentially microdosing myself just a little, to take the edge off social situations and make other people bearable to be around," an anonymous woman tells Broadly.
The drug world includes a lot of unknowns and not a lot of concrete information—but we do know one thing: Women are microdosing cannabis and other drugs to keep their mile-long to-do lists in order and make motherhood, marriage, and life a whole lot easier.
And, at least for now, these women are talking about it.