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Updated on September 26, 2022

LSD Overdose vs "Bad Trip"

Can You Overdose on LSD?

An overdose occurs when you take more than the recommended dosage. In most cases, an overdose will be followed by harmful side effects. Death can occur in severe cases.

D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), or simply acid, is a well-known hallucinogenic drug. It’s among the most controversial drugs in terms of medical significance.1 

LSD can cause significant out of body experiences in people who consume it, as well as long-term psychiatric symptoms. However, LSD is not physically addictive.

So can you overdose on acid? The simple answer is yes

The standard dosage for LSD is about 50 to 200 micrograms (μg) and should be administered in a safe setting. For reference, a typical LSD tablet contains 100 to 200 micrograms (μg).

If you take large doses of LSD, it's considered an overdose. The effects will depend on the extent of the overdose. However, acid overdose is rarely fatal.

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LSD Dose

D-lysergic acid diethylamide is an odorless and colorless liquid. It comes in LSD soaked paper squares known as blotter papers.

There may be many "tabs" on each blotter paper, each containing a dose of 100 to 200 micrograms (μg). A single tab is typically sufficient enough to cause a hallucinogenic effect (out of body experience). 

LSD is also available as capsules, tablets, and sugar cubes. Every LSD product differs in potency depending on the manufacturer.

When used in standard dosages, LSD is considered a safe and nontoxic medication. 

However, too much LSD can expose you to unpleasant experiences.

If you've never taken acid trips before, starting with a lower dosage may be a safer approach to see how your body reacts to the substance.

Note that LSD is an illicit drug and is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances also include heroin and MDMA, which have a high potential for abuse with no valid medical use.

How Much LSD Is Too Much?

There is limited substance use research indicating exactly how much LSD is too much. 

Although previous studies had estimated the lethal dose of LSD to be 14,000 micrograms (μg), recent case studies have disapproved this statement.2 

In one case, a 49-year-old woman mistakenly snorted 55 milligrams (55,000 μg) of LSD, thinking it was cocaine. The dose she took was 550 times higher than the standard dosage.

Although she blacked out and vomited several times in a period of 12 hours, she reported feeling "pleasantly high" for the next 12 hours.3

In another case, a 15-year-old with bipolar disorder ingested about 1200 micrograms of LSD, and although she was hospitalized, she later reported significant improvements in her mental health disorder.4

The subjects in both case studies consumed extremely high doses and had no catastrophic side effects.

 Certainly, more research is needed to determine the lethal dosage of LSD, if at all there is, as well as its effects on people with mental illness.

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LSD Overdose vs. "Bad Trip:" Are They The Same Thing?  

Although closely related, LSD overdose and "bad trip" do not necessarily mean the same thing.

You may overdose on LSD but not experience psychedelic effects. However, overdosing on LSD has potentially adverse outcomes.

A "bad trip" or acid trip is characterized by a negative hallucinogenic experience following an LSD overdose.

What Causes an LSD Overdose?

An acid overdose (or bad trip) may result from consuming a dose higher than the standard dosage (50 to 200 micrograms). 

Someone who has overdosed on LSD is likely to experience severe hallucinations. Bad trips may cause panic or a feeling of being in danger.5 

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Symptoms of an LSD Overdose

Common LSD overdose symptoms include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Paranoia and visual hallucinations
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Mixed senses
  • Goosebumps
  • Tingling and prickling sensations
  • Tremors and muscle shakes

Severe LSD overdose symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intracranial bleeding
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Seizures
  • Coma (rare)

In contrast to some of these seemingly minor symptoms, an acid trip can be very unpleasant. LSD users may suffer terrifying changes in their thoughts and emotions, putting them at a risk of harm or even death. 

The adverse outcomes of a bad trip include:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Panic and paranoia
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Dangerous aggression towards others
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide

What to Do if You or a Friend is Having a Bad Trip

Helping yourself or a friend get through a bad LSD trip may be challenging if you’re inexperienced.

The situation can be worse if the person you're trying to help is paranoid and aggressive towards you.

The best action to take is to rush the person to a hospital (if you're sober) or contact 911 to handle the situation. A hospital can offer a secure environment with continuous monitoring and protection from licensed medical professionals.

Substance use therapy is the most effective strategy if you want to quit LSD abuse.

When someone has an acid trip, they are more likely to seek therapy since the terrifying experience may be a wake-up call.

Inpatient and outpatient drug addiction treatment facilities exist all over the country to help people overcome substance use problems.

They have qualified healthcare specialists who can provide effective substance use treatment options.

How to Manage an LSD Overdose

Below are some steps you can take to manage an LSD overdose:

  • Try to move the person to a safe area to prevent self-harm
  • Try to reassure them that their experience is due to a drug overdose, and it will soon wear off
  • Maintain your presence with the victim as doing so may help to calm them down
  • If the situation is too dangerous, get professional help, stay at a safe distance and protect others

Tips for Preventing an LSD Overdose

The following are ways in which you can prevent an LSD overdose:

  • Do not use LSD. Not using the drug at all is the best way to prevent an overdose. The negative effects of LSD can manifest even after using the substance many times without experiencing any effects.
  • Do not take more than the standard dose (50 to 200 micrograms)
  • Seek emergency medical attention if you experience terrifying hallucinations, extreme anxiety, nausea, and/or tremors.

What are the Long-Term Effects of LSD?

Despite the fact that LSD is a potent drug capable of producing profound experiences, it is not considered addictive.

However, there is evidence that the effects of LSD on brain chemistry may have long-term consequences.

These long-term effects may fade with time, but they may also last for years.

  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). Also known as "flashbacks," HPPD is characterized by suddenly experiencing the sensations of a previous trip.6
  • Serotonin syndrome. This is common among people already taking prescription psychiatric medications. Symptoms include diarrhea, restlessness, hallucinations, and seizures.
  • Persistent psychosis. Individuals suffering from persistent psychosis may have visual and auditory hallucinations, disorganized thinking, paranoia, and emotional disturbances that persist long after the medication has been discontinued. Treatment may require an antipsychotic.7
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  1. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide Toxicity,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 7 July 2021
  2. Coma, Hyperthermia and Bleeding Associated with Massive LSD Overdose,” The Western Journal of Medicine, March 1973
  3. A woman took 550 times the usual dose of LSD, with surprisingly positive consequences,” CNN Health, 29 February 2020
  4. LSD Overdoses: Three Case Reports,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 12 February 2020
  5. Making "bad trips" good: How users of psychedelics narratively transform challenging trips into valuable experiences,” International Journal of Drug Policy, July 2021
  6. Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), October 2012
  7. Clinical features and management of intoxication due to hallucinogenic drugs,” Medical Toxicology Adverse Drug Experiment, 1989

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