Overdose deaths are common in the United States, but very few of them concern psychedelic drugs and you almost never hear of anyone fatally overdosing on LSD.
It begs the question: can you actually overdose on LSD? Are you at risk of dying if you take more of this drug than you should?
The answer is not as straightforward as you might expect. It’s also very surprising.
How Many People Die from LSD Overdoses in the United States?
Every year in the US, over 90,000 people die from drug overdoses, and that number is on the rise.
To put that into perspective, it means that drug overdoses kill nearly twice as many people as influenza and pneumonia.
Roughly three-quarters of those deaths involve opioids, and of those, more than 80% are attributed to synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
In some of these cases, opioids are the only drugs being used. In others, opioids are used alongside alcohol, sedatives, and other substances.
In any case, these synthetic and widely abused analgesics are one of the biggest killers in the US.
Stimulant drugs such as cocaine (including crack) and methamphetamine are also responsible for thousands of deaths.
And then you have benzodiazepines and barbiturates, which can be deadly on their own and when mixed with other drugs.
So, where does lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) fit into all of this?
Well, it doesn’t.
There is very little information out there concerning fatal LSD overdoses and even LSD-related deaths.
We found one study from the UK that looked for mentions of “LSD” or “psilocybin” in all drug-related death registrations between 1993 and 2020. The study covered both England and Wales, nations that have a combined population of about 60 million, and it found just 7 references to LSD in a 27-year period.
Even if those deaths were directly related to LSD, it would be a very low figure. But it only looked at “drug poisoning” deaths that included LSD, as opposed to those that only involved LSD.
Is There Such a Thing as an LSD Overdose?
An overdose and a fatal overdose are two different things. You can overdose on LSD, as it references the act of taking more than recommended or intended, and it usually leads to an unpleasant experience. Whether you can overdose fatally is a different matter entirely.
There are stories of people taking dozens and even hundreds of times more LSD than intended and surviving. This often happens when they assume the drug is something else.
Unlike most other drugs, LSD is consumed in micrograms and not milligrams or grams, so very small amounts are needed and it would require a massive mistake or oversight to take a dangerous amount.
Also, unlike other recreational drugs, we don’t really know what the lethal dose is for LSD. Such a dose will exist, as everything can kill you if you take enough of it (including water), but it’s likely to be so high that you can’t consume it when seeking a therapeutic or recreational dose.
Of course, that doesn’t mean LSD is completely safe.
When an LSD Overdose Can Be Deadly
Although an LSD overdose is rarely deadly, there are a few occasions in which medical intervention could be triggered and extreme adverse reactions can occur:
Taking LSD with Other Substances
An acid overdose is more likely to trigger a medical emergency if it is used in combination with other recreational drugs or in the presence of a serious health issue.
LSD doesn’t depress or overstimulate your nervous system like some drugs, but it can lead to increased blood pressure, higher body temperature, dizziness, nausea, and a few other physical symptoms. In combination with other drugs and health issues, these effects may be magnified.
Losing Control on a Bad LSD Trip
If you take large doses of LSD intentionally or accidentally, you may experience a bad trip.
The exact experience varies from user to user and can be impacted by everything from the dose to the user’s mindset and environment. However, a large dose of LSD can cause the user to disconnect from reality. If they experience panic or extreme fear while in that state, they can present as a danger to themselves or others.
There are stories of people thinking that the world is out to get them or perceiving innocent strangers as a serious threat. If they are near dangerous weapons, heavy machinery, large bodies of water, or moving traffic, they can become seriously and even fatally injured.
Of course, this is not unique to LSD, and you don’t have to look too hard to find stories of people drinking too much and stumbling into traffic or drowning.
It should be noted, however, that most of the stories you have heard about LSD are nothing more than urban legends.
One of the most common legends tells the story of a babysitter who put the baby into the oven after mistaking it for a turkey. This story is still being passed around today and is often told as if it’s contemporary, but it actually begin in the 1960s and is almost certainly false.
What’s more, everyone has heard stories of people who took LSD, thought they could fly, and then jumped from high-rise windows or rooftops.
LSD use can be dangerous, but most of what we think we know about those dangers are urban legends.
Triggering Mental Health Problems
LSD and other psychedelics should be avoided by anyone with a history of mental illness, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and psychosis. It may trigger serious psychotic episodes and has also been known to act as a trigger for individuals who are predisposed to these problems.
In such cases, an acid trip could leave the individual exposed to serious harm, and they may also harm others.
However, these incidents are extremely rare and poorly documented.
Summary: LSD Overdose
LSD is widely considered to be a safe drug. There is no known lethal dose and little risk of physical addiction and substance abuse.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, LSD is one of the most controversial drugs in the United States. Its status as a Schedule I substance means it has the same classification as heroin, a drug that can kill in relatively small doses, cause serious drug abuse problems, and is responsible for thousands of deaths every year.