This article originally appeared in VICE Australia.
Microdosing means taking enough of a psychedelic drug to get a gentle boost of creativity, energy, mood, and focus, but not enough to actually trip. There's been a lot of info about it in the past few years, mostly focusing on silicon valley types who swear microdosing makes them better people. They could be right, but I've always figured that taking acid in small amounts misses the point. It's like having a fat joint in front of you but only taking a slight toke, then dabbing your face with a napkin and saying "that's all for me, thank you kindly."
But the benefits are well documented, and while a few journos have tried it, I haven't. So I decided I should.
The issue was finding the acid itself. Tabs and sugar cubes are common as Zubats but I was looking for liquid LSD. I was only looking for about one or two tabs worth but the dealer gave me a sweet deal because he liked a very similar story I wrote a while ago about trying to survive on Nutella.
Although he gave me ten solid trips' worth of LSD, it was still just a few tiny drops of liquid inside a tiny bottle. If I was to accurately dose I'd need to dilute it and make up a solution. I called my chemistry friend "Bob" and he coached me through the process of mixing up a saline-based volumetric solution.
It took a bit of math.
But we got there in the end. Also these were the only syringes Bob had. I wasn't going to shoot it up. Relax.
A standard tab contains anywhere between 80-100 micrograms of actual acid, so I didn't think I would feel anything at only 15 mics. I did though; kind of similar to having half a beer on an empty stomach, nothing major but definitely something. My mood was good and I felt motivated to write which has been rare lately.
That afternoon I went for a walk on my own in a park. I felt almost disgusted by anything man-made. I craved nature and the LSD in my system gave the trees a vibrancy I never usually notice. The first day was actually great.
My friend called me in the morning about an hour after my dose and asked to describe how it felt. I wasn't really sure how to place it. In the end I went with "powerful."
Bouts of intense focus came in waves. I'd get into this zone where words just flowed onto the page and time lost all meaning. An hour would seem to pass in five minutes. But the power was short lived. After a few hours of intense focus, I kind of hit a wall and got real sleepy. Too sleepy. I kept drifting off. Day two was great at first, but then exhausting.
I upped the dosage on day three because I was already starting to build up a tolerance. And it was my birthday.
It was surreal to be around my family with LSD in my system. It wasn't that I was worried they'd find out, rather, the slight alteration to my perception brought on by a magnificent Peroni-red wine-acid cocktail accentuated all their beautiful positive features.
I looked around and everybody was glowing. Then a big cake baked by my older sister came out and that waxy 23 stared at me. But I didn't stare back, instead I looked at every face in that room and almost fucking cried because I wasn't a kid anymore and they were all so beautiful. I kept looking at my mum and wished one day that I'd have a quarter of the strength she has. It was a great day, everything just seemed to flow so well. All I had was happiness.
You might notice that my dosage keeps going up. I told myself I was overcoming a growing tolerance, but that's not really true. By Thursday I knew it was because I have no self control. I didn't want to microdose. I just wanted to dose.
This philosophy saw me laying on the couch at around 6 PM. I was so keen for a quiet one when my friend Sean called.
Sean: Oi I've got free tickets to Hot Dub Time Machine tonight.
Me: I don't know what that is.
Me neither. Let's go.
You still doing that acid thing?
So my friends all got on my acid but I couldn't just sit there and watch. I figured I'd have just a little drop.
We arrived at whatever the fuck Hot Dub Time Machine is on something between two and three strong tabs of LSD each. I was hyper-aware of everything and I understood all the mysteries of the universe. I knew all. Like seriously. Like dude.
The true grip of infinite knowledge that comes with every deep trip hit me hard, even though another part of me realised I was just thinking about shit I already knew. Delusions of grandeur and too much free beer. The music was incredible. The people were incredible. The carpet was incredible.
I woke up on Friday feeling like shit. My mind was mashed potatoes but I still took a tiny dose for science. I'd walk into rooms and forget why I was there. I'd vacantly stare at the fridge in vain only to return minutes later to repeat the process. I attempted to write but what came out resembled recounts of my grade three weekend. I gave up on adulating and watched Invader Zim until a girlfriend came over in the afternoon. She laughed at my scattered attempts to describe my week so I gave up and we slept the day away while flashbacks from the night before danced around my psyche.
I really didn't feel like more acid so I stuck to the regulation dose. I wanted to avoid all human contact but my family had organised a big dinner to say goodbye before I left on a backpacking trip to Asia. We ate together and my mind was gone, but I was happy. I think the biggest feeling throughout the week had been one of gratitude and appreciation for the food I ate, the bed I slept in, the people around me. I'm very, very lucky.
I didn't sleep at all Saturday night so day six kind of just merged into day seven. Instead of sleep I spent the night writing and packing everything I'd need for the next three months. In just a few hours I'd be on a midday flight to Singapore. I was so fucking done with acid but it was my last day so I thought fuck it let's up the dose. I was flying with a budget airline so I figured acid would entertain me in the absence of the little screen of joy afforded by more affluent flyers.
I was hoping the increased dose would get me buzzing but it did just the opposite. I did something stupid and googled Singapore drug laws, then walked through to my gate nervous. On the surface I looked calm and ready but I kept forgetting where I put my ticket, and the PA announcements were so loud.
I never imagined I'd take acid on a plane, it just wasn't on my to do list but here we are. I was so tired that I drifted off while the plane was still on the runway and woke up above the clouds. That fucked with me. Maybe it was the altitude but the trip actually seemed to swell in intensity. I actually said my goodbyes to my loved ones in my head because I thought there was at least a 40 percent chance this big metallic bird would dive beak first into the ocean.
I was self aware enough to know this was stupid, but I was also high enough to mentally prepare for the worst. I thought about death a lot as I sat eating crackers. Not that I was scared of death, I was just concerned about the way in which my death would come about, and the impact it would have on my loved ones.
I can see the benefits of responsible microdosing and if I had stuck to my regular microdose then I would've smashed out my work, but I didn't because I have the self control of an unsupervised fat kid at a birthday party. I never stood a chance.
Still, I don't regret my week and in all honesty it produced nothing like the gacked feeling you get after a multi-day music festival. In fact, on the few days that I did microdose responsibly I definitely felt a marked increase in productivity and creativity. And now, as I write this in a sweaty Singaporean bar, I'm still feeling the warm afterglow of passion brought on by a weeklong psychedelic rollercoaster.
All photos by Sean Foster.