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24th May 2024

by maxweb

Min read

Can You Overdose on LSD?

LSD, commonly known as acid, is a hallucinogenic or psychedelic drug that changes the perceptions of the user. It is commonly used as a recreational drug, although it was first synthesised for medical purposes, and its controlled use as a therapeutic drug is currently being explored.

Uncontrolled use of LSD can have a number of negative physical and psychological effects, some of which can be very serious. But can you overdose on LSD? We’ll look at the evidence and potential risks…

What is LSD?

LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, was first synthesised by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann in 1938. Research into the potential benefits of LSD were largely derailed due to recreational use of the drug and its association with the counterculture in the 1960s and 70s. Today, the potential of LSD in treating certain psychiatric conditions is again being explored, but unregulated use can still be dangerous.

LSD is generally considered to be a ‘classical hallucinogen’. The mechanisms behind these substances are not fully understood, but their effects are believed to mainly involve activity in a part of the central nervous system known as the serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2A).

LSD is one of the most potent classical hallucinogens available and can have an effect even at very small doses. The LSD experience, commonly known as a ‘trip’, can change the way the user perceives the world around them, as well as their own thoughts and feelings. The details of the trip can vary widely and can be negative (a ‘bad trip’), but many people still seek out the experience.

The drug can also be taken in very small amounts, which is commonly known as micro-dosing. Some claim that this can be beneficial and help with things like creativity, focus and mental health, but there is no definitive evidence yet that micro-dosing with psychedelics is either effective or safe.

Can You Overdose on LSD?

So, can you have an LSD overdose? To some extent, it depends on precisely what you mean by an ‘overdose’.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which publishes guidance on clinical practice in England, says that an overdose is “the use of a quantity of drug in excess of its intended or prescribed dose”. It adds that this “may be accidental or deliberate and involve the use of prescribed or illicit drugs”. As there is no intended or prescribed dose outside controlled psychiatric usage, it could be argued that any recreational use of LSD is an overdose.

NICE defines poisoning as “the state resulting from the administration of excessive amounts of any pharmaceutical agent”, and this may be closer to the common understanding of an overdose. For example, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) says that an overdose happens “when a toxic amount of a drug or a combination of drugs causes a severe adverse reaction”.

In terms of poisoning and physical toxicity, it appears that LSD overdose is very rare. A number of case studies looked at people who had taken very high doses of LSD. In one case, a 15-year-old accidentally took between 1,000 and 1,200 micrograms at a party (a typical tab of acid usually contains 100 to 200 micrograms) and was hospitalised overnight.

A 26-year-old woman who ingested 500 micrograms at the same party did not require hospitalization. A 49-year-old accidentally snorted 55 milligrams of LSD, thinking it was cocaine. The authors noted that this is around 550 times the amount in an acid tab. While the woman experienced vomiting and lost memories, the dose was not fatal, and she did not require medical attention.

Another study reports that in normal doses, LSD has only minor physiological effects, including slight increases in heart rate and blood pressure, adding that only two known cases exist where massive LSD overdose appears to have been directly responsible for death.

LSD can be harmful for many people, however, particularly in terms of its psychological effects. The risks can increase the more is taken, so while physical toxicity and poisoning are rare, it is certainly possible to take too much and cause serious short or long-term psychological damage.

Effects of High Doses of LSD

The effects of LSD can vary from one person to another and from one trip to the next. In general, the main effects are on your perception and sense of reality. The higher the dose of LSD, the stronger these effects are likely to be.

They can include:

  • Visual distortions and hallucinations
  • Changes to other senses, including touch, smell and taste
  • Distorted perception of time
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Panic

There may also be physical effects such as increased heart rate, sweating and nausea.

The Risks of LSD Abuse

One of the most common risks of taking LSD is experiencing a ‘bad trip’, which is when the experience is unsettling, scary or generally unpleasant. Any kind of hallucinogen can lead to risky behaviour and a reduced or changed awareness of your surroundings (such as being aware of traffic when crossing the road). A bad trip or LSD ‘overdose’ can increase the risk of erratic behaviour and may also lead to self-harm or even suicidal thoughts.

The most common adverse reactions associated with the use of LSD include anxiety, paranoia, loss of thought control, panic attacks and self-harming behaviour. While most symptoms will improve once the drug wears off, unregulated use of LSD can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems, including psychosis. Symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia may remain, as well as issues such as insomnia and restlessness.

What to Do in Case of an LSD Emergency

With LSD, the emergency is usually psychological rather than physiological in nature. You should try to reassure the person and get them to a quiet and calm space. Stay with them and reassure them that the effects will pass. If their condition worsens, call 999 or 112 for emergency medical help.

Getting Help for LSD Abuse

If you or someone you know has a problem with LSD abuse, it is always best to seek professional help as soon as possible. Like any drug misuse, LSD can be psychologically addictive, and it can be difficult to break the vicious cycle without expert guidance and treatment.

The Rehab Directory can help individuals seeking support or treatment by finding them the right tailored treatment options in their area. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

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