In collaboration with The Beckley Foundation
The Beckley Foundation

Lysergic acid diethylamide is a psychedelic drug that was first synthesized in 1938 by Albert Hofmann. LSD literally takes you in a ‘trip’ to the deepest parts of human consciousness. People can have a spiritual-experience, time perception is altered, music feels like heaven, all sensations are heightened. However, bad thoughts can also turn to be extremely disturbing, read more below to avoid this!

The Beckley Foundation is a pioneer institution conducting cutting-edge research on the therapeutic potential of this psychedelic. Their scientists also believe LSD is a master key to unravel the inner workings of consciousness.

Please read ME for more general information about recreational drugs.

1

Set and setting

2

Have a tripsitter

3

Dose sensibly

Effects

Here are the most common effects of LSD. You won’t necessarily experience all these effects, every time you consume the drug, and it is possible that you may feel other effects not listed here.

Many of the effects labelled as neutral and/or experienced as negative at the time can actually have positive consequences if you understand them and know how to manage them.

The effects entail (from positive to negative):

* Much more common among first-time users

Dose and Onset

How? How much? When? For how long?

Read our section on dosing and tolerance in ME for more information.

As with any drug, the correct dose for you depends on factors such as weight, gender, metabolism, whether you have taken the drug recently or not, amongst many others.

How you take it matters...

LSD is always taken orally and it is only injected for research purposes. It is commonly dissolved in blotting paper that can be broken down into tabs. other, less common, ways of taking this psychedelic are consuming it in the form of liquid LSD and gelatin

You should place the tab under your tongue for around 10 minutes, after that, you can safely swallow the tab.

If you are going to try LSD for your first time or you are using a new source, we encourage you to take a low dose to avoid a bad trip.

How much?

  • Low:

    25–100 µg (people report feeling some effects with as little as 20 µg)

  • Medium (common):

    65–175 µg

  • High:

    175–250 µg

  • Heavy:

    250+ µg

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When do the effect kick in and for how long?

The START time below is when you will usually begin to feel the effects of LSD from the time when you first take it. DURATION is roughly the length of time you will experience the effects, after which the effects will start to wind down and you might start to feel the calm-down/comedown effects.

  • Start:

    30–90 min

  • Peak:

    2–3 hours

  • Duration:

    9–14 hours

This depends heavily on the person and her/his state. Factors such as heart rate and blood pressure or the presence of other drugs in the blood affect the time the drug will take to have an effect. A higher heart rate and blood pressure than normal would make the effects to kick in faster. This can also vary with how much you have taken: the higher the dose you take, the longer the trip will last.

Interactions

As a rule, it is better not to mix different drugs, as the interactions can be unique (and unpredictable) for each person. This is especially important for first-time users of LSD, as mixing drugs could result in a negative experience.

For example, combining LSD with cannabis can go either way because cannabis has unexpectedly strong and somewhat unpredictable synergy with psychedelics.

Read our section on dosing and tolerance in ME for more information.

Most classic psychedelics (except for DMT) induce cross-tolerance. This means that if you take mushrooms one day, and LSD the next, the effects of LSD will be reduced. After about 3 days the effects will be very small or non-existent. Therefore we recommend that you take prolonged breaks between trips.

Written by Dr Anna Ermakova, researcher at The Beckley Foundation.

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Source: tripsit.me

Lithium or tricyclics (like Amitriptyline, Anafranil, Asendin, Aventyl, Elavil, Endep, Norfranil, Norpramin, Pamelor, Sinequan, Surmontil, Tipramine, Tofranil, and Vivactil) are consistently reported as being very bad in combination with LSD. People attempting this combination are unable to communicate with others, they go into a Fugue state where they wander away from home and don't know how they got there, and they are generally in a terrible state psychologically. Life-threatening seizures and at least one death have been reported to be triggered by the combination of LSD and lithium.

Also, if you are prescribed lithium for mental health problems, it is not a good idea to try LSD outside of a supervised medical setting, as it might worsen the symptoms.

Tramadol can result in seizures when taken with LSD, as Tromadol lowers the seizure threshold.

Harm reduction

Head over to our ME section if you would like to know more about harm reduction.

There are certain precautions you should take before trying LSD. The advice below helps to prepare you both physically and mentally. We want you to be safe and enjoy your experience as much as possible, so if you have a bad experience or are struggling with especially bad after-effects, please take note of the advice below.

BEFORE

DURING

AFTER

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The trip

Bad trip

Just as how LSD can heighten positive feelings, it can also enhance negative feelings. They can be very overwhelming and unpleasant. LSD has also been shown to strongly increase psychotic-like symptoms [Ref Carhart-Harris et al., 2016.]

Even though a bad trip can be absolutely terrifying at the time, it could lead to beneficial long-term consequences when processed and integrated properly [Carbonaro et al., 2016]. In a survey about challenging experiences after taking psilocybin mushrooms, 39% of users who had them said that the experience was among the top 5 challenging experiences of their lifetime. Despite having those difficulties, 84% reported having benefited from the experience and 76% reported increased well-being afterwards.

LSD can be very dangerous to people with pre-existing psychotic illnesses or those who are highly at risk for developing psychosis. Research shows that LSD makes existing psychotic symptoms worse and can trigger the onset of the full-blown psychotic episode.

A bad trip can occur when taking a low or medium dose, but the chances increase with higher doses. Both beginners and experienced users can suffer a bad trip, so always take the appropriate preventions.

During a bad trip, you might feel:

  • Anxiety

  • Fear/panic

  • Dysphoria

  • Paranoia

  • Confusion

  • Disorientation

  • Unwanted thoughts, emotions and memories

  • Frightening perceptions

  • Distressing awareness of physiological processes

  • Feelings about evil forces/existential crisis

  • Headache

Each person may find their way of escaping a bad trip: listening to a particular song, talking to a certain person, or looking at a pleasant painting. We personally recommend lying down in a place without disturbances, close your eyes and breathe deeply until you feel better.

Check out this video: Bad Trips - How to Use Biofeedback to Work with the Fear

Helping out a friend

If you are taking care of your friends, keep in mind the following:

  • Be patient, listen to and observe them

  • Empathise and express understanding of their fears

  • Don't try to guide them. Instead, listen to them and talk them through their experience without imposing your own ideas of what ‘should’ be

  • Find a more peaceful spot

  • Tell them that their bad feelings will pass. It can happen and many people before have suffered it

A great guide is MAPS' Manual: How to Work with Difficult Psychedelic Experiences

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Overdose

Accidental overdoses are very rare because LSD has a very high safety window (the ratio of the typical lethal dose to the effective dose). There isn’t an exact lethal amount, since it depends on many variables such as the person and context. Estimates of lethal doses of LSD are higher than 10 mg (10,000 µg) administered orally, more than 100 times a normal moderate dose of LSD (100 µg).

Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • The person collapses

  • Breathing is irregular and/or shallow

  • The person is too warm

  • There is blood in his/her vomit

Do not doubt to call a paramedic if you see or feel any of these symptoms. You will not get into trouble.

There has been only one human incident where the death has been attributed to LSD toxicity alone. The quantity of LSD in the blood indicated that 320 mg (320,000 µg) had been injected intravenously. Very rare LSD-related fatalities usually result from people committing suicide or accidental deaths.

Understand the trip

In this section The Beckley Foundation and Drugsand.me provide you with a lot of neuroscientific information. Let us know what else you want to know about!

A discovery the recent Beckley/Imperial studies have revealed is the shift in the overall connectivity of the brain. The connectivity within the networks decreases and the connectivity between the networks increases. The whole brain becomes more integrated, allowing new functional connections to be formed between brain areas which which normally do not ‘speak to each other’.


Music

LSD enhances your emotional response to music, increasing wonder, transcendence, power and tenderness of it. LSD and music work together to change how your neurons talk to each other, that correlate with the long lasting change in personality, such as increased openness and optimism (Lebedev et al., 2016).

LSD intensifies the quality and significance of melodies and lyrics and affects the perception of the basic musical features such as pitch, tempo and timbre. LSD and music together increase the flow of personal memories, allowing the vivid experience of ‘visions of the past'. This research by Mendel Kaelen, undertaken as part of the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme is the first to shed light on how the brain processes music under LSD, and provide a basis for understanding the therapeutic effects of music.

What should I listen to?

The powerful influence that music has on your trip can enhance it or make it really bad, this is why you should pick carefully the music you listen to while on LSD. There isn't a standardized playlist suitable for everyone. Follow this advice and adapt it to your taste and the experience you are looking for!

Below we provide examples of the tracks used by the scientists in the Beckley/Imperial research programme working on incorporating music to psychedelic therapy

Have a look at the playlist of another research team doing research on psychedelics: John Hopkins’ playlist

Do want to discover why it is called psychedelic rock?

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Time

Mental time travel refers to the ability to think about future or past, to recollect aspects of past autobiographical episodes or imagine future experiences. LSD seems to tune you with the present and it enhances any stimuli in your environment. This is why the context where you decide to take LSD is extremely important to ensure you have a good trip and avoid a bad experience.

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Suggestibility

Suggestibility is the susceptibility or response to suggestion. LSD strongly enhances suggestibility. This means that the realism or vividness of suggested situations or scenarios is stronger when you are under LSD.

Why does this matter to you? Again, this is another reason of the importance of prior expectations (set) and environment (setting) in determining the nature of your experience. You may want to hide or avoid any object or place that arises any negative feeling or memory. Similarly, you probably want to have around things that already calm you down or bring you good vibes in a normal state.

Timothy Leary described it as a ‘period of increased reactivity to stimuli, both from within and without, there is an increase in suggestibility’ (Ref. Leary 1966; Carhart-Harris et.al suggestability paper)

Ego-dissolution

Ego-dissolution is the loss of the sense of 'self' and the feeling of belongingness to the world.

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Visual hallucinations

A visual hallucination is the vivid perception of an external visual stimulus that does not exist. Trippers usually see a distortion of what they are seeing. Fractals (repeated patterns) are a common form of distortion.

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Synaesthesia

Synaesthesia is a psychological experience in which two or more senses that are normally experienced separately are constantly and spontaneously felt together. For example, the word 'Friday' makes the person to see the colour red. The painter Kandinsky is a famous example of a synaesthete (person with these experiences in their daily life).

LSD triggers synaesthesia-like experiences. This means that even if you are not a synaesthete you may experience a similar sensation. However, the experience is different as there is no consistency and specificity in the pairing of stimulus-sensation. This means that you might suddenly taste the sweetness of the word 'love' once, but not ever again and you might feel afterwards how another unrelated word tastes sweet as well. (Ref. Terhune, 2016) In the contrary, a synaesthete constantly tastes sweet when he/she hears the word 'love' and only this word would trigger the sensation of sweetness (besides actual sweet food/drink).

Don't be afraid when you see a noise and enjoy the mind-blowing experience!

If you avoid a bad trip, some particular positive feelings seem to be enhanced the most.

Language processing

To investigate the effects of LSD on language, done as part of the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme, a team asked participants to name the pictures immediately after seeing them. Although the reaction times were the same as on placebo, study volunteers made more mistakes in naming the pictures. For example, when shown the picture of a bus, they were more likely to call it a ‘truck’ or a ‘car’. The mistakes were from the similar semantic category as the correct answer, but not exactly right. This research explains how LSD affects semantic networks and the way the brain draws connections between different words or concepts. "The effects of LSD on language can result in a cascade of associations that allow quicker access to far way concepts stored in the mind," said Family.

Psychedelics help to notice associations people wouldn't normally pay attention to, or help form new connections – this has implications for enhancing creativity. Ref Family et al., 2016

Pro-social effects of LSD

Under the effects of LSD people report a feeling of belongingness to the environment, as well as a connection with those who are with them. LSD changes the way you read people’s expressions and feelings. Consequently, these are internalised differently and your reaction in social context differs from your sober state.

To measure the social behavioural changes on LSD, a group of people were given LSD while they undertook a series of tasks. The scientists aimed to test some traits that influence our social behaviour such as empathy, prosociality, emotional response to faces and subjective mood. These were assessed twice per individual during the ‘trip’ since it lasts for several hours. Ref Dolder et al., 2016

Risks

Dependence and abuse?

LSD doesn’t cause dependence or addiction, and no physical withdrawal symptoms have been described. Scientific literature has also reported subtle or nonsignificant changes in the personality, attitudes, and creativity of people that have repeatedly tried this psychedelic.

Tolerance develops quickly for LSD compared to other recreational drugs. Moreover, there is cross-tolerance between LSD and all the other psychedelics (except for DMT). This can be problematic as the user needs to take higher doses to achieve the same effect.

Our personal advice is not to increase your doses far from what we advise and save your trips for special and meaningful occasions. Leave at least a couple of weeks between the trips.

Much more research needs to be done!

Long-term effects

The good

Research by The Beckley Foundation has shown that psilocybin and LSD increase openness (imagination, aesthetic appreciation, non-conformity, creativity) and optimism weeks after the psychedelic experience. Psychedelics are thought to be an 'existential shock' therapy and can certainly lead to a change in behaviour and outlook. After 2 weeks of the experience, the positive effects continue, whereas the psychosis-like effects don't.

This a good reason to put thought into the mindset and setting of your first trip, as it can prove to be a more meaningful experience.

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Many people rate the experience as one of the most meaningful of their life, and this experience can catalyse many positive changes, such as quitting smoking.

Recent studies have found that psychedelic use was associated with lower rate of mental health problems. Of course, we deem that to be due to correlation and not causation as there are many other factors involved.

The ugly

Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD) and flashbacks

Scientists still don't agree if Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD) and flashbacks are the same or different things; we need more research! HPPD is a legitimate disorder featuring in DSM-V, but nevertheless, this condition still remains poorly defined and studied. We still do not know how many people suffer from it, and what makes people vulnerable or optimal ways to treat it, as was recently summarised here.

Both result in a re-experiencing of one or more of the psychedelic effects time after trying this drug (months or years). The main difference between HPPD and flashbacks is that the former is a distressing medical condition, while the latter can be experienced as either positive or negative. People with HPPD experience visualizations that are frequent, and impinge upon their daily lives. Flashbacks are meant to be intermittent, infrequent experiences, whereas HPPD are described as more persistent states. However often both terms are used interchangeably.

As you might understand if you decide to try this drug, this can be very disturbing in your everyday life. Visual effects seem to be more prominent (geometrical hallucinations, flashes or intensification of colour, movements, afterimages, trails and haloes).

If you think you have HPPD/flashbacks, don't hesitate to look for medical help.

Ref DSM-V and Ref Neptune

Microdosing

Coming soon…

Courtesy of Dr. James Fadiman and Sophia Korb. Get Dr. Fadiman's ‘The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide’ for the ultimate guide on psychedelics.

The Law

Europe

  • UK: Illegal. Class A drug.
  • Germany: Illegal.
  • France: Illegal
  • Netherlands: llegal. To possess, distribute, and produce without a license. Personal consumption is legal.
  • Spain: Illegal. To possess, distribute, and produce without a license. Personal consumption is legal.
  • Russia: Illegal. To possess, distribute, and produce without a license.

America

  • USA: Illegal to manufacture, buy, possess or distribute without a DEA license. Schedule I drug.
  • Canada: Illegal to possess, distribute, and produce without a license. Schedule III drug.
  • Mexico: Illegal. Personal possession of up to 15 µg is decriminalised.

Asia

  • Hong Kong: Illegal. Schedule 1. To manufacture, buy, possess, distribute or consume. Can only be used legally by health professionals and for university research purposes.
  • Singapore: Illegal To possess, consume, import, export and use.
  • Israel: Illegal. To possess, manufacture, sell, distribute and use.

Africa

  • South Africa: Illegal. To manufacture, possess, consume, import, export and use.

Australasia

  • New Zealand: Illegal to manufacture, sale and use. Class A drug.
  • Australia: Illegal to manufacture, possess, use and supply.

More information, references, useful links...

FAQs

Will taking LSD make me peel my skin, or make me think I'm an orange?

This is a popular, and silly, urban legend. However, on very rare occasions, fear and paranoia can lead to erratic behaviour and potential aggression against youself and others.

Read more orange juice and LSD myths here.

If I try LSD, will I experience LSD flashbacks?

Simply not true. Scientists still don't agree on with what HPPD and flashbacks are, but some studies suggest that the chances of developing these symptoms is around 4% of users.

Will taking LSD make me mad and insane?

The evidence to refute this myth is boundless. LSD is actually

one of the safest drugs.

Useful links

How to LSD

Set and setting

Neuroscience

Clinical stuff

  • NEPTUNE: novel psychoactive treatment

Microdosing

Other harm reduction initiatives

References

  • Kaelen, M., Barrett, F. S., Roseman, L., Lorenz, R., Family, N., Bolstridge, M., ... & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2015). LSD enhances the emotional response to music. Psychopharmacology, 232(19), 3607-3614.
  • Kaelen, M., Roseman, L., Kahan, J., Santos-Ribeiro, A., Orban, C., Lorenz, R., ... & Wall, M. B. (2016). LSD modulates music-induced imagery via changes in parahippocampal connectivity. European Neuropsychopharmacology.
  • Speth, J., Speth, C., Kaelen, M., Schloerscheidt, A. M., Feilding, A., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2016). Decreased mental time travel to the past correlates with default-mode network disintegration under lysergic acid diethylamide. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 30(4), 344-353.
  • Terhune, D. B., Luke, D. P., Kaelen, M., Bolstridge, M., Feilding, A., Nutt, D., ... & Ward, J. (2016). A placebo-controlled investigation of synaesthesia-like experiences under LSD. Neuropsychologia.
  • Lebedev, A. V., Kaelen, M., Lövdén, M., Nilsson, J., Feilding, A., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart‐Harris, R. L. (2016). LSD‐induced entropic brain activity predicts subsequent personality change. Human brain mapping.
  • Tagliazucchi, E., Roseman, L., Kaelen, M., Orban, C., Muthukumaraswamy, S. D., Murphy, K., ... & Bullmore, E. (2016). Increased global functional connectivity correlates with LSD-Induced ego dissolution. Current Biology,26(8), 1043-1050.
  • Carhart-Harris, R. L., Muthukumaraswamy, S., Roseman, L., Kaelen, M., Droog, W., Murphy, K., ... & Leech, R. (2016). Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(17), 4853-4858.
  • Carhart-Harris, R. L., Kaelen, M., Bolstridge, M., Williams, T. M., Williams, L. T., Underwood, R., ... & Nutt, D. J. (2016). The paradoxical psychological effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Psychological medicine, 46(07), 1379-1390.
  • Roseman, L., Sereno, M. I., Leech, R., Kaelen, M., Orban, C., McGonigle, J., ... & Carhart‐Harris, R. L. (2016). LSD alters eyes‐closed functional connectivity within the early visual cortex in a retinotopic fashion. Human brain mapping.
  • Leary, T., Metzner, R., & Dass, R. (1966). The psychedelic experience. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
  • Network, N. P. T. U. Guidance on the clinical management of acute and chronic harms of club drugs and novel psychoactive substances. 2015 http://neptune-clinical-guidance. co. uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03.NEPTUNE-Guidance-March-2015. Pdf.
  • Murray, R. M., Paparelli, A., Morrison, P. D., Marconi, A., & Di Forti, M. (2013). What can we learn about schizophrenia from studying the human model, drug‐induced psychosis?. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 162(7), 661-670.
  • Family, N., Vinson, D., Vigliocco, G., Kaelen, M., Bolstridge, M., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2016). Semantic activation in LSD: evidence from picture naming. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 1-8.
  • Halberstadt, A. L. (2015). Recent advances in the neuropsychopharmacology of serotonergic hallucinogens. Behavioural brain research, 277, 99-120.
  • Nichols, D. E. (2016). Psychedelics.Pharmacological reviews, 68(2), 264-355.
  • Johnson, M. W., Garcia-Romeu, A., Cosimano, M. P., & Griffiths, R. R. (2014). Pilot study of the 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881114548296
  • Garcia-Romeu, A., R Griffiths, R., & W Johnson, M. (2014). Psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences in the treatment of tobacco addiction. Current drug abuse reviews, 7(3), 157-164.
  • Krebs, T. S., & Johansen, P. Ø. (2013). Psychedelics and mental health: a population study.PloS one, 8(8), e63972.
  • Hendricks, P. S., Thorne, C. B., Clark, C. B., Coombs, D. W., & Johnson, M. W. (2015). Classic psychedelic use is associated with reduced psychological distress and suicidality in the United States adult population. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(3), 280-288.
  • Johansen, P. Ø., & Krebs, T. S. (2015). Psychedelics not linked to mental health problems or suicidal behavior: A population study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881114568039.