Raleigh, N.C. — Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple, openly talked about using LSD in his younger years to spark his imagination. He even went as far as to call it one of the two or three most important things he did in his life.
Now, the use of psychedelic drugs in small doses, called “microdosing,” is growing in popularity, especially among tech workers.
"I believe it could have a profound impact for millions of millions of people if it were more easily accessible," a man, who WRAL News will only identify as “John,” said of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
"After I started experimenting with these substances, my life kind of took a huge change for the positive," he said. "You'd be surprised just the vast array of people that are across industries, tech industries, medical industries, that are using microdosing to better themselves and better their careers."
John said microdosing has made him want to be the most productive version of himself.
Dave Nichols, a psycho-pharmacologist, said microdosing is a bad idea.
Nichols, an adjunct professor and researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is one of the world's top experts on psychedelic drugs and their potential medical impacts.
"I became convinced that these substances were really important," he said.
From mushrooms to LSD to ecstasy, Nichols spent decades studying medical benefits of the drugs, primarily through animal research.
"It looks like psychedelics may be, I'm going to hesitate to say, a magic bullet, but they're able to do things at this point that we've seen in these studies that other treatments and medications are unable to do," he said.
According to Nichols, research shows taking one or two doses of certain psychedelic drugs, under medical supervision, can have a profound impact on the treatment of clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He said so far, researchers are not aware of any long-term negative effects, but that there are a lot of long-term positive effects.
However, with a lack of research, he cautions against self-microdosing over a long period of time.
"To start taking something on a regular, chronic basis, I think is a really bad idea," he said.
John said he spends $15 a week buying capsules of pulverized mushrooms from a drug dealer. He believes the reward outweighs the risk for him.
"You have to be able to set limitations, responsible limitations," he said.
He hopes more research on microdosing in the future could one day help others - legally.
"If people understood and knew how to use it properly, and if the benefit it brings was more largely understood, I think everybody and their mother would be doing it," John said.
Earlier this year, a research foundation in England announced a new study on microdosing, which will examine the effects on cognitive ability and long-term health. For now, there are still a lot of unknowns, and it is against the law.