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Can You Experience Psilocybin Withdrawal if You Stop Microdosing?

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Can You Experience Psilocybin Withdrawal if You Stop Microdosing?

I’ve been watching the show Nine Perfect Strangers about a wellness retreat that uses psychedelics. One of the characters says that you can have withdrawals from psilocybin if you stop a long-term microdosing regimen. Is that actually true or possible? If you have seen the show, could you also add comments about its validity?

The word “withdrawal” can be used in two contexts: physical and psychological. In order to have physical withdrawals you need to have physical dependence. In order to have physical dependence your body needs to start relying on a substance to function properly. Research on the practice of long-term psilocybin microdosing is still in its infancy and is currently being studied in various contexts. This means that we are going to be continually discovering things for decades to come, but there does not appear to be any sort of physiological mechanism that would make your body “dependent” on psilocin in such a way that you’d experience physical effects from stopping a regimen. In other words, no, you’re not going to have classically-defined physical “withdrawals” from microdosing.

On the other side of the coin, the psychological circumstances around your microdosing regimen could lead you to have an emotional response when you stop regular administration – though calling this psychological “withdrawal” would be pretty extreme (and a circumstantial outlier at best). Experiencing psychological withdrawal from microdosing cessation would have deeper psychological roots, similar to the feelings of loss or anxiety that come from choosing to cut out caffeine or detaching from a friendship. The experience of symptoms like anxiety, loss of interest in activities (anhedonia), stress, or panic would likely be related to the severing of positive associations with a routine or sensation rather than the mushrooms themselves. I suppose that the risk of this occurring could increase if you’re doing a perceptual microdose (you can feel it) as opposed to an actual microdose (sub-threshold), in which case you might become psychologically accustomed to the presence of that little mushroom tingle. But even that is unlikely because of the rapid tolerance that you build to psilocin. I personally have never encountered someone experiencing this kind of psychological distress following the cessation of a microdosing regimen, although it’s technically possible, just like how halting any consistent familiar behavior has the potential to be distressing. I generally would say that it is not a significant concern. It sounds like this show probably severely inflated the likelihood of it happening and under-explained the meaning of “withdrawal.”

How long does psilocybin stay active/potent in a homemade product like a gummy or a chocolate peanut butter cup? Should it be stored in the freezer to preserve potency? 

This is a pretty hotly debated topic. What it boils down to is that there isn’t much of a way to give a precise timeline. It’s possible that storing your stuff in the freezer will improve shelf life. Storing milk chocolate outside of a fridge or freezer for months on end might make the dairy spoil, so that’s another point for cold storage. What is probably most important is how potent your shrooms are in the first place. People have eaten years-old room temperature shrooms with no notable loss in potency, while others have eaten frozen peanut butter cups and barely felt anything. There seems to be a pretty wild fluctuation, so I will generally suggest the following: If you want to control for the most factors possible, vacuum-seal your products and store them in the freezer. Ideally, use one batch of mushrooms across the board (evenly ground and distributed) so that you can try and standardize the potency as much as possible. Try something from your batch BEFORE you store and take notes on the intensity of your experience. This will help you get a feel for how effective your storage methods are.

One of the better things you can do to preserve mushroom potency is make sure that the shrooms are as dry as possible. Drying them out extra thoroughly prior to making your batch of goodies will probably help improve the storage process, too. It’s possible that they could last years this way. Or maybe just months! As long as you’re not using a food product that could go bad in that time (even in the freezer), you’re probably fine to experiment.

Can you microdose psilocybin and take ADHD medication? Is it safe to mix the two? 

“ADHD medication” can encompass a few different types of meds, and when we’re talking about interactions it’s super important to be specific. Ritalin (methylphenidate), for example, is predominantly a reuptake inhibitor (more “bang for your buck” by preventing neurotransmitters from being recycled) while Adderall (amphetamine salts) is predominantly a releasing agent (dumps more neurotransmitters to be used). Those are two of the main ADHD medications, but there are others too, like Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) and Focalin (dexmethylphenidate). ADHD meds are predominantly a mix-and-match of different “versions” of core compounds methylphenidate and amphetamine (to put it simply), though there are others as well. Looking at the basic pharmacologies of psilocin and these meds, there isn’t anything that jumps out as being a significant interaction. Probably the most important thing is to start very, very small – 0.1g of mushrooms, for instance – and work up in little bitty increments, since feeling stimulated while tripping can be uncomfortable or intense. 

Important note: The thing about interactions is that there can be bizarre, unexpected elements that influence each other like enzyme inhibition, signal cascades, and other fancy biology stuff. So it’s possible that there are things I don’t know about that could be intermingling down the line in a subtle way. Given my knowledge gaps about potential less-obvious interactions I would advise microdosing modestly and with a few days between doses to be safe. Be aware that some people do report feeling as though one or both substances works a little differently than usual, not necessarily in a good or bad way – for instance, Adderall (amphetamine) might blunt the psychedelic effects of the microdose for some folks. It’s important to pay attention to how your body reacts to these things. Truly, mixing substances can totally change the effect profiles of each of them.

About Your Psychedelic Auntie

When we have questions about psychedelics, we often consult our Auntie. An Auntie can be a person of any gender who offers wise advice about psychedelic substances and how to effectively use them. Lucid News is asking a collection of well-informed people to step in as Auntie and answer your questions about psychedelics. Some of the best peer-based, accurate information about psychedelic substances and harm reduction comes from DanceSafe, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1998. DanceSafe provides health and safety services at festivals and events. This month, our Psychedelic Auntie is DanceSafe Programs and Communications Coordinator Rachel Clark. Send your questions to the Psychedelic Auntie via the Lucid News contact page and watch this space for the answers. 

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