Because LSD is so potent in such small quantities, there are important considerations to keep in mind when taking LSD. When synthesized in a lab, LSD has the form of an odorless, colorless, water-soluble tartrate salt. By the time it becomes available though the underground market, it is distributed in the form of a liquid usually taken from a dropper. LSD can also be saturated into a sugar cube or gel, though the most common form of distribution is blotter paper (a sheet of perforated paper with little squares, each containing a single, dose of LSD). Because the underground market is unregulated, the potency and quality of the effects of a single dose of LSD may vary, as may the exact amount of LSD contained by a single tab of blotter paper.
How to Take LSD
Things to Know
- LSD is the most potent psychedelic by amount
- The average dose is about 100 micrograms and lasts around 12 hours
- LSD often comes in the form of liquid, gel, or a tab of blotter paper
- LSD effects can range from euphoria and joy to paranoia and anxiety
While anywhere from 75 to 200 micrograms is considered standard, the average dose of LSD is about 100 micrograms. A microdose of LSD, on the other hand, which is meant to be sub-perceptual, is about 10 micrograms.
How Long Does LSD Last?
A typical dose of LSD may last around 12 hours,1 depending on the dose, the quality of the LSD, and the individual’s physiology.
Effects of LSD
Within 30 minutes of ingesting LSD, altered sensory and visual effects start to take place, which can include the intensified perception of colors, the appearance of stationary objects moving or vibrating, and distorted shapes, sounds, and sense of time. The effects of LSD can be hard to describe with words, as they may be beyond verbal expression. From one moment to the next, a person might experience bliss and lightness followed by intense emotions or distress. The substance may produce some visual or auditory hallucinations like vibrations or patterns.
It’s important to note that the effects of LSD can be highly variable, and individual experiences can differ greatly. Some people find that LSD is energizing and encourages social connection, while others prefer to be in a less stimulating environment. Under the influence of LSD, a person may also be more sensitive to particular environments or people. On the flip side, their belief systems may feel altered, which could augment a person’s baseline perception of their environment.
There are many LSD-like substances that are functionally exactly like LSD, but require one less step to metabolize in the body. These LSD analogs are popular in Europe, and include 1P-LSD, 1V-LSD, 1cP-MiPLA. Most of these are available for sale online (at least in the Netherlands).2
LSD Side Effects
The side effects associated with LSD can be either positive or negative, and both emotional and physical. LSD can induce a wide range of emotions accompanied by strong sensations, including joy, fascination, and euphoria, as well as anxiety, paranoia, and panic, often in unpredictable and intense ways. LSD can also cause physiological responses including increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and sweating, as well as sleep disturbances and changes in body temperature regulation.
Under the influence of LSD it is important to not operate a vehicle or machinery, as a person’s motor skills, coordination, and balance may be affected. In some cases, LSD may cause nausea or gastrointestinal distress. The intensity and duration of these side effects can vary among individuals depending on the dose and individual factors.
LSD After Effects
Even after the acute effects of the LSD have worn off, some sensory effects may linger, such as visual distortions or enhanced colors. Other after effects may include alterations to mood and emotional sensitivity, greater insight or introspection, enhanced creativity, flashbacks, and divergent thinking which may help us solve existing problems.
How to Prepare for an LSD Trip
Before taking LSD, it’s important to take into account set and setting: your mental state going into the experience, and the environment surrounding it. Prior to taking a psychedelic, it is important to consider one’s intentions and capacity for self-care, or a support system for after the experience, so that the journey can be best processed and integrated.
It is widely recommended that those who are new to psychedelics have a trusted friend or trip sitter, psychedelic-assisted therapist, or guide present to offer support in the event of a challenging experience, even if it is not long lasting. It is also a good idea to have water and snacks prepared (although you may not have much of an appetite), music or instruments handy, and other activities or objects that may enhance the experience—from an eye mask to a sketchbook, or anything else that might be meaningful or fun. Indeed, there’s evidence3 that music enhances the LSD experience and that LSD enhances music appreciation.
Part of the preparation for an LSD journey includes having an integration plan for afterwards. That means carving out time in advance to process through journaling, a walk in nature, or some other means of allowing the insights to settle. You might also consider setting up a session to review the journey with a therapist who is comfortable discussing psychedelic experiences.
LSD and Contraindications with Other Substances
When combining LSD with another substance, whether it’s alcohol, another psychedelic compound, or a pharmaceutical medication, it’s important to understand the contraindications.