Can You Overdose On LSD? This Is What To Know

Can You Overdose On LSD? This Is What To Know

When you think of LSD, it’s most likely in the party drug context, not the potential psychedelic therapy treatment. Still, it’s one of the most sought after hallucinogens of today, with many people still wondering, can you overdose on LSD?

LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, is a very potent, hallucinogenic drug that can produce changes in perception, mood, and a sense of time and space. On the federal level, it’s classified as Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This means it has a high potential for abuse — with no currently acceptable medical use.

LSD is not a natural psychedelic, meaning it is not from nature. Instead, it’s a synthetic psychedelic.

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann is responsible for discovering and synthesizing the drug in a lab. While using lysergic acid, and with the hydrolysis of ergotamine, an alkaloid found in a fungus that infects rye was created.

Hofmann began experimenting on himself and experienced the LSD (or acid) trip. His diary made the following claims.

“Beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh.” He later went on to explain how “everything in his field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror, and that he also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot.”

He collaborated with many psychologists of the time, who began experimenting with small doses of LSD on their own patients. The results were positive shifts in their mood and behavior, often lowering stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, all research stopped when the United States officially banned the drug in 1967.

It wasn’t until 15 years ago that the interest in this psychedelic began to grow. That’s when doctors, again, began exploring the potential behind its incredible stress-relieving and anxiety-reducing effects.

RELATED: How Long Does LSD Last, And What Should You Expect During A Trip?

LSD As A Party Drug

In the 1990s, LSD started circulating around popular party scenes. It is odorless and colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste. Each “hit” often comes on absorbent paper, which is cut into small squares. These represent a single dose. It can also come in the form of tablets or micro dots, saturated sugar cubes, or the classical, liquid.

Side effects from taking LSD are the following.

  • Physical. Dilated pupils, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, excessive sweating, loss of appetite, insomnia and trouble sleeping, dry mouth, blurred vision, chills and goosebumps, and tremors
  • Mental. Visual and auditory distortions (hallucinations), huge shifts in mood, impaired judgement and focus

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LSD As A Potential Therapeutic Treatment

Belonging to the group of classical hallucinogens, together with psilocybin and DMT, it binds to the serotonin receptors in the brain, causing the person ingesting it to momentarily feel better, happier, and more relaxed. Consequentially, this helps reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, with research extending to PSTP and even opioid addiction treatment. It’s why many people have begun microdosing LSD.

Unfortunately, most current research comes from small-scale trials — so there isn’t much available. Until anything changes, it will be difficult to explicitly push for the drug’s use in treatments for various mental health disorders.

However, LSDs history does trace back to the 1950s-1970s. During those years, the drug showed potential treating behavioral and personality changes. This includes mental health issues, too, such as anxiety, depression and addiction.

For patients with cancer, previous subjects claim LSD helps with pain and depression.

Unfortunately, many of these studies don’t meet today’s contemporary standards. It’s why many restrictions against LSD still exists, and why it has yet to gain support as an alternative treatment option.

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So, Can You Overdose On LSD?

The question of whether or not you can overdose on LSD is fair. After all, there’s a stigma around the safety of many drugs — especially as a psychedelic treatment.

As a recreational drug, LSD seems not to form an addiction as most other substances do, with those taking it on the regular even building up tolerance.

LSD is a hallucinogen, but it exhibits very low physiological toxicity. Even at high doses, there is no evidence of organic damage or neuropsychological deficits from using LSD. For that reason, LSD is one of the safest psychoactive recreational substances.

Due to its low toxicity levels, overdosing on LSD seems to be incredibly hard, but not impossible. Taking an extremely large dose may lead to a severe reaction, which may carry the description of an overdose. A typical dose of LSD is between 50 micrograms to 150 micrograms. So, if someone takes 10 times the typical dose, experiencing harsh symptoms is quite possible.

These unpleasant symptoms include panic and aggression, suicidal or homicidal thoughts, severe depression, hypertension, increased heartbeat, loss of appetite, extreme sweating and flushing, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, drowsiness, dry mouth, tremors, pins and needles sensation, hyperactive reflexes, and a mild fever.

More severe overdose symptoms include reactions like seizures, excessive vomiting, irregular heartbeat, intracranial hemorrhage, as well as respiratory arrest. The latter can lead to death.

RELATED: How LSD Affects The Brain

Potential Of Having A Bad Trip

Don’t confuse overdosing with having a bad trip. A bad trip is a negative psychological reaction to a drug which causes anxiety and panic, as well as the feeling of helplessness and inability to control the situation. This often causes a ton of distress, paranoia, and fear, repelling the person from taking the drug again.

The good thing about a bad trip is that it typically ends in the same amount of time as a good trip does. It just leaves a negative taste in your mouth. Although it can happen to anyone, it’s more likely to occur in people with a pre-existing mental health condition, as they’re more liable to experience fear, anxiety, paranoia, and depression.

Overall, LSD is a classical hallucinogen with a very low toxicity level and little to no dependency characteristics. So, while it’s highly unlikely that you can overdose on LSD, it isn’t impossible. Like any drug, taking extreme doses of will be too hard for the body to process.

RELATED: Does LSD Have Nootropic Properties? New Three-Part Study Says Yes

Karla Tafra

View all posts by Karla Tafra

Karla is a freelance writer, yoga teacher and nutritionist who's been writing about nutrition, fitness, yoga, mindfulness, and overall health and wellness topics for over seven years. She's written for numerous publications such as Healthline, Livesavvy,, Well + Good, and many others, sharing her love of storytelling and educating. She loves talking about superfoods and another amazing plant powers that people can benefit from if they learn how to use it properly. Her passion lies in helping others not only eat healthier meals but implement good eating habits, find a great relationship with food & achieve a balanced lifestyle. She believes that the only diet and lifestyle that's worth creating is the one you can stick to, so she aims to find what that means for each and every individual. Teaching WHY we eat, and not only WHAT we eat, is the premise of her approach.

Dr. Jonathann Kuo

This post was medically approved by Dr. Jonathann Kuo

Jonathann Kuo, MD is a Board Certified Pain Medicine Specialist and Anesthesiologist. He is the founder of Hudson Medical Group (HMG), an innovative and cutting edge healthcare system that combines Medical, Wellness, and Mental Health in the treatment of Pain.

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