This is really good advice, I'll pass on the research papers. He's been doing n-back for a bit now, so has probably already achieved the working memory gains. Hopefully this will dissuade him from riskily and unnecessarily trying stimulents.
> Regarding the first goal, is he ADHD?
I don't know. He hasn't been officially assessed but scores just-barely-past-cuttoff on online tests for markers. I suppose that might mean he'd experience limited benefits, I doubt they're worthwhile though.
He's experimented with giving up various things (not on any social media besides LW and stackexchange and mostly posts as opposes to scrolls, has gone no-sugar), but I doubt it has been as much of a challenge as quitting drugs would be. You're right that you only find out when it's too late.
He wants to take stimulants for their concentration/productivity-boosting effects (at ADHD level doses) and eventually LSD as a meditation-on-steroids experience that might help him "discover something about himself". He has also discussed LSD microdosing for creative thinking purposes.
I've suggested visiting a drug rehab center, I think that's analogous to your last point, and a good idea. I'll work on making it happen. The rest of the criticism is valid, and I'll pass it along.
This paragraph won't go over well due to neglect of widespread anecdotal positive effects of taking relatively small doses of stimulants, I'll look through the literature to counter that> The fact that they are prescription drugs means precisely that experts are quite aware that they have negative side effects. (So please let's not act like finding out about the negative side effects is a mind-blowing discovery that would totally turn medicine on its head.) Doctors prescribe them when they believe that the benefits may outweigh the costs, in context of a specific health problem. People don't take them recreationally just because some stranger online told them to.
That is a good point. He concedes it. He tried for "microdosing LSD promotes creative intelligence" but couldn't back it up sufficiently.
Likelyhood ratios is an interesting point I hadn't considered. I brought it up to him, and he believes if the change is big enough to impact his life, he'd notice (compared it to sleep deprivation), and if it's smaller, then it doesn't matter. Cumulative small changes over time was countered because he's apparently been benchmarking various aspects of "intelligence" for the past year and would detect a change to baseline.
When he finds this post, he'll find the Nietsche part amusing (he's been reading classical philosophy recently), thanks for adding it!
I sent the post to him, and got an "I knoowwww, I derived all of that ages ago". He has that characteristic teenager flippant egotism, and believes he has enough self control to not get addicted, and that his drugs of choice are much more likely to have a positive rather than negative effect. Was worth a shot, though.
I'm not sure if therapy would help, and my son would not willingly agree to it (he thinks most issues can be solved without outside intervention based on some past experiences, and I tend to agree).
He's already into neuroscience and vying for a research internship at a local university, but thanks for the suggestion!
I know very few sons who would respectfully and openly converse with their parents about topics like this with the aim of getting an outside viewpoint, and I believe lesswrong contributed to this conscientiousness, so thanks to everyone here who models that!
Do you have any links to papers on the negative effects of psychedelics? I'd love to see the empirical "overwhelming evidence" - I think that has potential to push him back into a more cautious stance