LSD, also called acid, is one of the most potent psychedelic drugs. Studies and personal experience have shown that LSD can produce a state of “mindfulness” where people are more open to new ideas and or insights about themselves or their environment which may be helpful when exploring personal problems or trauma. However, there are risks associated with taking LSD due to its ability to result in a negative experience, commonly referred as a bad trip, or even an overdose event where someone might need medical assistance or help. From our research and the available studies on this, while it is technically possible to have an LSD lethal dose and overdose, it is incredibly rare. We have some well documented examples of LSD overdose cases and their results to show you this. This blog post will explore those and what is an LSD overdose and all the facts, fiction and myths surrounding LSD.
LSD Drug Overdose vs. Bad Trips
When a person takes lysergic acid diethylamide, they are ingesting a psychedelic drug with hallucinogenic effects that hits their brain’s chemical processes by disrupting the function of serotonin which controls how people perceive things like moods, pain levels and other sensations. It also affects dopamine which helps regulate movement control; when LSD imitates serotonin it causes overproduction of dopamine which can result in uncontrolled movements or even cause someone to act erratically or violently if they believe there is no way out of whatever situation they happen to be in at the time. These effects may be amplified when LSD is taken in high doses. And for those that have used LSD in the past, we know there can be bad trips. You do everything you can before hand from your prior experience to avoid these bad trips, but they can still occur. It is very important to understand there is a big difference between an overdose and a bad trip. These two events are completely different and need to be viewed separately. More likely than not, you can have a bad trip and not be overdosing.
Common Symptoms of Bad Trips
Let’s list some common symptoms that you may notice if someone around you on LSD and is potentially having a bad trip. These include, but are certainly not limited to:
- An irrational fear of losing control, going crazy or even dying. You have a negative distorted sense of yourself.
- Your sense of time is broken, for example, time loops.
- Intense feelings of panic and paranoia where one believes they cannot escape whatever situation they happen to be facing at the time.
- Visual hallucinations that could lead to out of body experiences that are negative.
All of these symptoms or experiences one feels are associated with what a bad trip can look like on LSD. These are just a few, we are confident there are more. While they are difficult to handle in real time as the psychedelic experience is happening, it is important to note this is not specifically an overdose event. However, if there are other issues that are appearing, rapidly increased body temperature, fast and accelerating heart rate, blurred vision, or even loss of senses, you may need to consider seeking medical attention. As we have discussed in other articles, we really encourage you to make sure your setting is right before any psychedelic experience. This is your best bet to make sure that if you do have a bad trip, you know what to do and what your resources are based on what you are experiencing.
Is it Possible to Overdose on LSD?
Despite the fact that LSD overdose events are rare, they technically can occur (there is such a thing as a defined lethal dose) if someone takes LSD in excess amounts or continually re-doses themselves with LSD before their previous dose has time to metabolize properly which can result in LSD accumulating faster than it is being broken down by the body. There have been no documented accounts of people who have died as a direct result of LSD overdose; instead, most LSD fatalities that you hear of are due to accidents that occurred while under the influence of LSD. Some stories we have come across include drowning, getting hit by cars or falling off high structures, or even run-ins with the police.
Documented cases, courtesy of Healthline.com, of huge doses of LSD not leading to a lethal dose.
- In one case, a 15-year-old accidentally ingested between 1,000 and 1,200 micrograms of LSD at a party and had to be hospitalized overnight. A 26-year-old woman who attended the same party accidentally ingested approximately 500 micrograms of LSD but didn’t require hospitalization.
- In another case, a 49-year-old woman who took morphine as prescribed for foot pain accidentally snorted 55 milligrams of LSD, thinking it was cocaine. While she didn’t require medical attention, she experienced frequent vomiting for 12 hours and lost some memories of the event. She stopped vomiting after 12 hours but continued to feel “pleasantly high” for another 12 hours. The authors noted that 55 milligrams is about 550 times more than what’s found in a tab of LSD.
What can be considered an LSD Lethal Dose?
As you can see from our examples above, a lethal does of LSD is incredibly tough for humans to ingest. In fact, from our research, there has never been a documented case of anyone who has consumed enough LSD in amounts high enough to kill them solely from the drug itself. Really the only research we could find was the 1973 study mentioned below that suggests it could be around 14,000 micrograms (14 milligrams), however, that is significantly less than the documented case of 55 milligrams above.
Medical Treatment for LSD Users
A person who is suffering from an LSD event that acquires medical attention should be taken to the hospital immediately. Medical professionals will first begin treatment by stabilizing their blood pressure and heart rate with medications before being given other medicines and hydrating IVs that are designed to counteract the effects LSD. If someone experiences severe hyperthermia as a result of LSD, they may also receive passive cooling therapies which involve dousing them in cool water while covering them with cold towels or placing cold packs on various parts of their body until their core temperature comes down and they no longer require emergency medical treatment.
Additional Facts and Statics about LSD
- Much older research from 1973 Trusted Source estimated that a lethal dose of LSD for humans could be around 14,000 micrograms (14 milligrams), but this is considerably less than the amount ingested by the woman who snorted 55 milligrams (550x a normal dose of LSD). (healthline.com)
- Almost half of the people who abuse LSD in the United States, according to the 2014 NSDUH, are between the ages of 18 and 25. (americanaddictioncenters.org)
- NIDA estimates that as of 2014, around 11 percent of Americans aged 12 and older had tried LSD in their lifetimes. (americanaddictioncenters.org)
Drug Abuse and Substance Abuse Treatment
If you or anyone you know is dealing with drug abuse and is afraid of drug overdoses, we encourage you to seek substance abuse treatment. LSD, and other hallucinogenic drugs, use is an experience that shouldn’t be taken lightly and can have intense psychedelic effects.
References, Research and Sources:
- LSD Toxicity Treatment & Management: Approach Considerations, Prehospital and Emergency Department Care, Inpatient Care
Fact Checked and Editorial Process
The Magical Mushroom is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by tapping into psychedelic users, experts, journalists, and growing community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Corey Riley.