Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is generally considered to be a safe drug. The potential for drug abuse is low, the risk of fatal overdose is low, and it doesn’t cause any serious adverse reactions in most users.
But it’s still a mind-altering drug and there are dangers to be aware of.
What are the Side Effects of LSD?
Some of the unpleasant effects of LSD include dry mouth, sweating, sleeplessness, dizziness, tremors, numbness, reduced appetite, and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
The main issue, however, lies in how unpredictable the experience is.
LSD can change the way a person thinks and perceives the world around them. It can also drastically alter their mood.
If you’re angry, scared, paranoid, and not seeing things for what they are, you could be a threat to yourself, and this is where the main risks are when it comes to LSD.
Can You Overdose on LSD?
You can overdose on everything, including water (a condition known as hyper-hydration or water intoxication). When we talk about overdoses in the context of recreational drug use, we’re really asking how close those overdose levels are to the recreational dose.
Take heroin as an example. What constitutes a pleasant dose in a user with high tolerance could kill someone using the drug for the first time. In fact, many overdose deaths occur because a user abstains for many weeks or months, relapses, and then goes straight back to the dose they used at the height of their addiction.
Benzodiazepines and other prescription pills can be similarly dangerous.
With LSD, however, the overdose level is so staggeringly high that it’s unlikely to be consumed by accident. In fact, reports of overdose deaths are so rare we don’t really know what those levels are. There have also been many reports of users consuming hundreds of times the therapeutic dose and still surviving. Some of them even report having pleasant experiences.
So, can you overdose on LSD? Probably, but it’s so rare that we don’t even know what the lethal dose is. And if you know what you’re taking (many overdose reports are from people who mistook LSD for another drug) and use it sparingly, there is little to no risk.
What are the Long-Term Risks of LSD?
We can’t say for sure what the long-term effects of LSD are, as we don’t have a great deal of research to draw upon.
LSD has only been around since the 1940s and its legal status means it hasn’t been studied a great deal. There were a number of studies during the ’60s and there has been a resurgence of LSD research in recent years, but we’re still learning about this drug.
However, we know that flashbacks can occur, and there is also a risk of something known as hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD), a condition characterized by continued and sporadic visual/perceptual changes. They don’t always present as visual hallucinations, but it can still be a frustrating and difficult condition for sufferers to deal with.
Who Shouldn’t Use LSD?
If you have any existing mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, you are more at risk of developing long-term complications, including HPPD. The drug may also trigger a relapse or a psychotic episode, so it’s best avoided by anyone with severe mental health problems.
Has Anyone Died from LSD?
Deaths from LSD are very rare. There have been some reports of LSD deaths occurring, but they usually involve other drugs.
During a bad trip, an LSD user could also present a danger to themselves and others, but most of the stories you hear about deaths and murders are myths.
One of the most famous examples originates from the 1960s and tells the story of a babysitter who put a baby in the oven instead of a turkey.
There are also stories of a man who took LSD, thought he was a glass of orange juice and spent the rest of his life being unable to make sudden movements in case he “spilled” himself. Other variations of the legend claim he thought he was an orange and worried about being peeled.
These myths and many more have been debunked.
LSD and Other Drugs
LSD shouldn’t be taken with other psychoactive substances, and that applies to legal and illegal drugs. Mixing drugs can increase the risk of a bad trip and severe adverse reactions.
Combining alcohol with LSD could increase the negative effects that you get from both of these substances. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions and makes you more likely to increase your dose of LSD and drink more alcohol.
LSD may interfere with prescription medications. Benzodiazepines and hypnotics may increase the risk of harm while others may not work as well as they should.
Mixing LSD with stimulants like cocaine and depressants like heroin can lead to unpleasant and even harmful effects. You should also refrain from combining LSD with other hallucinogens and dissociative drugs.
It can be tempting to reach for some benzodiazepines or opioids if you’re having a bad trip, but it could have the opposite effect and send you further into the abyss.
Can You Be Addicted to LSD?
LSD is not addictive. The same is true for magic mushrooms, DMT, and most other psychedelics. This means that it won’t cause cravings and withdrawal symptoms in the same way as other drugs.
However, it is possible to develop a psychological addiction. Anything can become a habit if you do it long enough, and that’s also true for taking LSD. This is generally less of an issue than a physical addiction, though, and it requires long-term and habitual use.
Summary: Using Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) Safely
LSD is widely considered to be safe. LSD overdoses are rare, addiction potential is low, and there are few adverse physical effects.
Bad trips can happen, though, and they can be dangerous and extremely unpleasant when they do.
To decrease the risk of a bad trip, prepare your “set and setting”, which references your mindset and environment. Go somewhere safe, avoid responsibilities, noise, and crowds, and surround yourself with people you know and trust.
LSD might be safe, but it’s also an incredibly powerful hallucinogenic drug and needs to be treated with respect.