How Common Is LSD Overdose?

LSD is a hallucinogenic drug. It’s effect are primarily psychological—so the consequences of use are too. It’s rare to take too much LSD and suffer serious or life-threatening physical symptoms. It’s less rare to experience consequences to an LSD-induced hallucination.

Although an overdose on LSD is unlikely, this doesn’t mean LSD is “safe.” It can impact a person’s health and life. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), or “acid,” is a psychedelic hallucinogen. It takes a user on a “trip” lasting up to 12 hours or more. It has dangerous interactions with antidepressants and lithium. Overdose deaths on LSD alone are essentially non-existent since a person would need to take 100 to 200 doses at one time to reach fatal level of the drug. Despite this LSD is unquestionably one of the most powerful recreational drugs. Its effects can lead to scary, dangerous and even deadly situations.1

Dangerous Effects of LSD

Partygoer on LSDA person tripping on LSD experiences an array of hallucinations including changes in sensory input like smelling sounds or hearing colors. The drug is powerful enough that the CIA and Britain’s MI6 experimented with it on soldiers many decades ago. Test subjects were given the drug as a way to control their minds, but the drug’s ability to bring on dangerous hallucinations stopped experiments. The following are some of the other dangerous effects of LSD use:

  • An inability to make sane judgments or understand everyday risks
  • Temporary cognitive malfunction similar to brain damage
  • A dissociative state with an impaired ability to communicate
  • A depressed or even suicidal state
  • Severe anxiety

Because of the risks involved, LSD is illegal in the United States. It is a Schedule 1 drug which means it has no accepted medical use.1

What Is an LSD Overdose?

Prior to using LSD, it’s impossible to know if a trip will be positive or negative. Many users experience terrifying alterations of perception, leading to panic, anxiety and self-destructive or even fatal behavior.2 An “LSD overdose” typically involves anxiety morphing into full-blown panic attacks. In cases of extreme panic and paranoia, it may be necessary to seek emergency medical attention. This becomes an urgent need if a person is threatening himself or others. Most incidents, however, call for making the person feel safe, relaxed and comfortable until the drug wears off.3

LSD use also causes flashbacks. These involuntary recurrent memories are powerful enough to make a person unable to tell if the events are happening in real time. Flashbacks can triggered by exhaustion or other drug use. These typically occur in the days following a trip, but a flashback can occur up to a year after the original trip.4

How Does LSD Affect the Body?

While most of the effects are psychological, an LSD overdose does have accompanying physical effects.These changes vary widely between users. They can include the following:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • An increase or decrease in body temperature
  • Sleepiness or insomnia
  • Sweating, chills, tremors
  • Tingling sensations and palpitations2

Additionally, although LSD isn’t physically addictive, the body quickly develops a tolerance to the drug. Users will need higher doses to achieve the same, desired effects.

LSD, Overdose, Addiction and Treatment

LSD use impacts health and quality of life. Someone using LSD needs professional treatment. This can include the following:

  • Mental health screenings to assess any mood disorders or emotional issues
  • Treatment for any co-occurring depression, anxiety, mania, psychosis or schizophrenia
  • Examination to determine psychological reasons that initiated the abuse
  • Behavioral therapies to end bad habits and instill a healthy new lifestyle
  • Ongoing group support and aftercare counseling to monitor progress5

Professional treatment centers also offer aftercare options. Aftercare helps a person live successfully in recovery. Resources may include sober living, access to support groups, alumni events and more.

The Canyon offers immediate and long-term addiction treatment. We specialize in addressing co-occurring mental health and addiction issues. We can help you or a loved one move past LSD and on to a healthy, balanced life. Call today to learn more about treatment options, insurance coverage and more.

1 Davis, Kathleen. “What Is Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)? Effects and hazards of LSD.” Medical News Today. 22 Jun. 2017.

2 Burgess, Patrice and Monti, Peter. “LSD Topic Overview.” WebMD. 18 Jul. 2017.

3 Rega, Paul P. “LSD Toxicity.” Medscape. 29 Dec. 2015.

4What Are Hallucinogens?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Jan. 2016.

5Treatments for Substance Use Disorders.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 9 Aug. 2016.

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