LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide (also known as acid or LSD-25) is a potent psychedelic drug, infamous for its role in the 1960s counterculture.1 LSD is known for its ability to produce spiritual and mystical experiences as well as visual hallucinations.1 LSD is psychoactive at extremely small doses (as little as 50-100 micrograms).2 LSD commonly comes in the form of tabs (a.k.a. blotters) or sometimes dissolved in a liquid.1 Tabs are small pieces of cardboard that have been soaked in LSD, often with some identifiable pattern printed on them. LSD tabs are dissolved under the tongue and should not have a metallic or bitter taste. Other things can also be soaked in LSD, including lollies and sugar cubes.
LSD is derived from a chemical found in ergot fungus (ergotamine) and was first synthesised by Albert Hoffman in 1938.1,3 On April 19, 1943, he ingested 250 micrograms and rode his bicycle home in what became the world’s first acid trip.1 As such, April 19 is commonly called “Bicycle Day”.1 From the 1950s, mescaline and LSD was used by psychologists and psychiatrists in the research and/or treatment of alcoholism, depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia.3 The CIA also infamously attempted to use LSD as a “truth serum” as part of a project called MK-Ultra.3 By the 1960s, LSD became widely used by members of the countercultural movement and also by members of the general public.3 It was subsequently made illegal in the late 1960s and LSD research largely stopped.3 Although LSD is no longer researched widely for mental health, other psychedelics, particularly psilocybin and MDMA, have gained the attention of researchers in psychology and psychiatry.3
There are many other psychedelics, including analogues of LSD (drugs related to LSD but with slightly different chemical structures), DOx and 25x-NBOMe, which are incorrectly sold as LSD. LSD analogues, such as AL-LAD, ETH-LAD, and 1V-LSD, have increased in prevalence in an attempt to evade drug laws.3 Many of these analogues are very similar to LSD with slightly different properties. For example, AL-LAD (6-allyl-6-nor-LSD) produces many of the same effects as LSD but has a slightly shorter duration of effects.4 LSD analogues are considered “designer drugs” or “research chemicals” and their unique effects and risks in humans, if any, have not been greatly documented.
Other drugs found on tabs, such as members of the NBOMe class of drugs, are far more dangerous than LSD and have been associated with multiple deaths and severe side-effects.5 Consider testing your LSD before you take it either by using a testing kit at home (e.g., https://dancesafe.org/product/lsd-testing-kit/) or by taking it to a drug checking site such as CanTEST. LSD doesn’t have a taste, so if your tabs have a noticeable taste (e.g., a bitter or metallic taste) it may contain another drug such as 25I-NBOMe.6
The effects of LSD can depend on the mindset of the person and the setting in which the person is taking it (commonly called set and setting).7 It is important that the person feels safe in the environment, and it is best to trip with people one is familiar with. In highly stimulating environments such as music festivals, a person may need to spend time in a quiet space away from sensory stimulation and it can be helpful to find such an area before taking LSD.
The commonly reported effects of LSD include:1
Mood lift, euphoria.
Visual and auditory hallucinations.
Altered perception of space and time.
Profound religious and mystical experiences.
Enhanced touch sensation and music appreciation.
Sensitivity to light.
It’s impossible to verify the dose of LSD present on a tab, and LSD can take a long time to kick in (up to 90 minutes).2 So, it’s important to start at a low dose and wait before redosing LSD (start low and go slow). It may be beneficial to start with half a tab or even a quarter of a tab before trying a full one in case the dose is greater than expected.
The following is a rough dosage guide for LSD:2
LOW DOSE – 50-100 μg
MODERATE DOSE – 100-150 μg
STRONG DOSE – 175-225 μg
HEAVY DOSE – 250+ μg
Dosages for LSD are in micrograms (written μg, or sometimes ug).
LSD can take a long time to kick in, having a typical come up time of 45-90 minutes.2 The duration of effects for LSD is notoriously long, lasting 9-14 hours.2 It can be very difficult to sleep on LSD, so it’s important to be mindful of when you take it and how long it’s going to last. Additionally, the day after taking LSD, people can experience after-effects such as feeling “out of it”, tired, and/or mildly euphoric (commonly called “afterglow”).1 If you decide to take LSD, it’s wise to set aside most of the day for the trip and to not have too many commitments on the following day, accounting for disrupted sleep and any residual after-effects of the LSD.
LSD has an extremely low toxicity, and no one has died from ingesting LSD alone.1,8 However, taking high doses can have distressing psychological and physical effects which can include:8
Loss of coordination.
Increased heart rate.
However, it’s advised to seek medical attention if someone is experiencing these symptoms:8
Increased body temperature.
Loss of consciousness.
These symptoms could suggest an exceptionally bad reaction to LSD, a dangerous reaction due to mixing LSD with another drug, or an overdose on a more dangerous chemical such as 25I-NBOMe. Mixing LSD with cannabis or stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine can increase the risk of anxiety.9 Mixing LSD with tramadol is considered unsafe since tramadol can increase the risk of seizures.9 Mixing LSD with mood stabilisers including lithium (e.g., Lithicarb) has also been observed to increase the risk of seizures.10