Science remains mixed on psychedelic drug use in the workplace

Science remains mixed on psychedelic drug use in the workplace

Does taking microdoses of psychedelic drugs really increase productivity? This practice, commonly known as “microdosing”, questions the scientific community. She is divided on the real effects of these substances on cognitive abilities.

One molecule is of particular interest to researchers. This is psilocybin. It is extracted from a hallucinogenic mushroom, psilocybe. This substance has been the subject of articles in scientific journals for several years for its benefits in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses. Consumed in very low doses, this psychedelic compound helps fight anxiety, depression, addictions and even eating disorders.

Employees doped with hallucinogenic mushrooms?

It could also help workers better manage their workload, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Benjamin Korman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Konstanz (Central Europe), reached this conclusion by comparing the psilocybin consumption of 217,963 full-time American employees and the number of overtime hours they work during the year. It notably relied on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2002-2014).

This made it possible to show, initially, the existence of a positive correlation between psilocybin and the number of overtime hours. In other words, individuals who consume hallucinogenic mushrooms more or less regularly tend to work more than those who abstain. However, Benjamin Korman found that the relationship between the two was reversed when taking into account socio-demographic factors, such as age, gender, education level and family situation.

Psilocybin users, on average, worked 3.60 minutes less per week than others, according to the specialized site PsyPost, which was able to consult the conclusions of Benjamin Korman’s article. This figure may seem anecdotal, but it increases considerably across the American population. Employees who take hallucinogenic mushrooms work, overall, 44,348,400 fewer overtime hours per year.

Contrasted results

This overtime “economy” would be specific to psilocybin since Benjamin Korman did not observe the same phenomenon with other psychedelic substances (LSD, mescaline, etc.). The results of this study should, however, be taken with caution due to the limitations of its methodology. “The psychological mechanism linking psilocybin consumption to overtime worked by employees has not been studied. Theoretical reasons why psilocybin use may be associated with employee overtime have therefore not been verified.” Benjamin Korman told PsyPost.

Regardless, this article demonstrates the growing interest in psychedelics in personal and professional development. Online forums and social media are full of accounts of working people taking hallucinogenic mushrooms and LSD in small doses to improve their productivity, creativity and concentration. This practice is widespread in Silicon Valley, even if its real effectiveness remains to be demonstrated.

Research into the actual effects of psychedelics on cognitive abilities draws mixed conclusions. Some work indicates a significant benefit from microdosing, while others claim the opposite. Dutch researchers found, in a 2019 study, that micro doses of hallucinogenic truffles would improve performance in convergent and divergent thinking, that is to say our ability to solve problems creatively. . An article, published in 2022 in the journal Translational Psychiatry, affirms, on the contrary, that psilocybin in small quantities has no influence on creativity, well-being and cognitive functions.

It is therefore difficult to have, at present, a definitive opinion on the usefulness of psychedelic drugs in a professional context. But the only certainty concerns their illegality, given that these substances are considered narcotics almost everywhere in the world. Caution is therefore required.