Also known as

Window, trips, tripper, tab, stars, smilies, rainbows, paper mushrooms, micro dot, lucy, liquid acid, lightning flash, l, hawk, flash, drop, dots, cheer, blotter, acid boomers, doses, yellow sunshines, battery acid, microdots, electric kool-aid, window pane, pane, purple haze, sugar cubes, cubes, elvis, hits, blue cheer




LSD stands for its chemical name, lysergic acid diethylamide, and is commonly called 'acid'. It's a powerful hallucinogenic drug - this means that users are likely to experience a distorted view of objects and reality, including seeing and sometimes hearing things that aren't there (these are hallucinations). The experience of taking LSD is known as a 'trip'. Trips can be good or bad, but until you take it you don't know how it will affect you - and once it's started you can't stop it [1].

Here are some of the main effects and risks of taking LSD -

  • Time and movement can appear to speed up and slow down. Colour, sound and objects can get distorted and you can experience double vision.
  • These distortions of your senses can be quite unpredictable, sometimes pleasant, but sometimes very frightening (these are called 'bad trips') [1].

What does it look like?

In its pure state, LSD is a white odourless powder. However, it usually comes in squares of gelatine or blotting paper that have been dipped or soaked in LSD [2]. LSD is also sometimes sold as a liquid, in a tablet or in capsules [3].

Found as tablets or on blotting paper, which can come in all sorts of colours and designs [4].

LSD, in its pure state, comes as crystals that can be dissolved in distilled water to make a clear, odourless liquid. This is usually soaked into sheets of paper ('blotters') which are cut into small squares ('tabs') for sale at a street level. The square may be plain paper or thin card, or may be over-printed with a design. These are many and varied, and include cartoon characters, ('Bart Simpson', 'Batman') new-age symbols ('Ohm'-designs), or just about anything else - strawberries, penguins, smiley faces and so on. Microdots are small dark brown/black pellets, slightly larger than a pin-head [5].


LSD is a semi-synthetic drug that is chemically made from lysergic acid derived from Ergot, a grain fungus that typically grows on rye. Usually it is illicitly manufactured in Britain or Europe. LSD availability decreased towards the end of the 1990's [6].

LSD is derived from the fungus ergot through a series of complex chemical processes. While various internet sources profess 'easy' manufacturing processes, production of LSD is not straightforward and requires specialist resources and knowledge. Some production methods found on-line and in 'cook-books' could result in highly dangerous compounds, which can and have resulted in fatal poisoning. UK LSD is produced within the British Isles or imported from Mainland Europe [5].


Among young adults (15- to 34-year-olds), lifetime prevalence of LSD use varies between countries, from 0.1% to 5.4%. Last year use of LSD in this age group ranges from 0% to 1.7%. Lifetime prevalence of LSD (or other hallucinogen use, excluding hallucinogenic mushrooms) among 15- to 16-year-old school students ranged from 1% to 5% in the 24 EU Member States and Norway with ESPAD surveys in 2011, with only the Czech Republic reporting a prevalence level of 5% [7].

According to Home Office statistics published in 2016, LSD use fell in 2015/16 among 16 to 59 year olds in England and Wales from 0.4 to 0.2%. This is a fall of around 58,000 people compared to the previous year.

Use among 16 to 24 year olds halved, falling from 1.2% to 0.6%. This is 42,000 fewer people than in the previous year [8].

Street price

In 2011, the mean cost to users of a unit of LSD ranged from EUR 4.5 (Netherlands) to EUR 25 (Italy). The mean price of LSD, corrected for inflation, decreased 14 % at European level 2006 - 11 [7].

Prices can vary from region to region, but on average LSD costs £1 - £5 a tab [1].

It is cheap (around £1 - £5 each), easy both to conceal and to use [6]. £2 - £4 per tab [5].

Why take it?

Sought after effects

  • effects similar to magic mushrooms,
  • senses become distorted,
  • perceptual changes to time, space and meaning [4],
  • hallucinations,
  • hilarity [6].

Undesired effects

  • distortions can be frightening - 'bad trip',
  • can negatively affect people who have mental health problems [4],
  • confusion,
  • disorientation,
  • loss of coordination,
  • distortions in time and space [6].

What are the different forms?

LSD can be found in some forms -

  • Liquid is often found in vials with a pipette. Liquid LSD is often dropped into the mouth, tongue, or dropped into sugar cubes before being consumed. There should be no bitter metallic taste which numbs the mouth, as this instead indicates the presence of a 25x-NBOMe compound.
  • Tablets and 'microdots are very small tablets which are swallowed.
  • Blotters are sheets of blotting paper that are dipped into an LSD/alcohol solution which is then either swallowed or chewed sublingually. There should not be a bitter metallic taste which numbs the mouth when chewing the blotters as this instead indicates the presence of a 25x-NBOMe compound.
  • Powder can be taken orally, sublingually, via injection or by insufflation, but would usually be diluted to a liquid or 'laid' on blotter to allow for accurate dosing.
  • Gel tabs can be taken orally and are small pieces of gelatin which contain LSD. These have been less common, but are still occasionally present in some areas of the world [9].

How long do its effects last?

The effects of LSD last for around 8 hours. This is dose-dependent, though, and higher doses can produce effects lasting for 12 hours or longer [10].

Onset of effects

- sublingual - 30 - 90 minutes [11], 20 - 60 minutes [9], 45 - 90 minutes [12], 30 - 120 minutes [13].

Come up

- sublingual - 15 - 30 minutes [9].


- sublingual - 2 - 3 hours [11], 3 - 6 hours [9].


- sublingual - 3 - 5 hours [9].

Duration of effects

- sublingual - 9 - 14 hours [11], [12], 8 - 12 hours [13].


- sublingual - 2 - 5 hours [9], 15 - 24 hours [12].


LSD was first synthesised by Albert Hoffman while working for Sandoz Laboratories in Basel in 1938. Some years later, during a re-evaluation of the compound, he accidentally ingested a small amount and described the first 'trip'. During the 1950's and 1960's, Sandoz evaluated the drug for therapeutic purposes and marketed it under the name Delysid®. It was used for research into the chemical origins of mental illness. Recreational use started in the 1960's and is associated with the 'psychedelic period'.

Physical effects (e.g. dilated pupils, mild hypertension and occasionally raised body temperature) appear first. Sensory-perceptual changes are the outstanding features of LSD. Visual disturbances are perceived with eyes closed or open and may consist of geometric shapes or figures in patterns. Flashes of intense colour are seen and stable objects may appear to move and dissolve. Cross-sensory perception (synaesthesia) such as 'coloured hearing' can occur where sounds such as voices or music evoke perception of particular colours or shapes. The perception of time may appear to slow down.

The mode of action of LSD is not well understood. It is thought to interact with the serotonin system by binding to and activating 5–hydroxytryptamine subtype 2 receptor (5-HT2), which interferes with inhibitory systems resulting in perceptual disturbances. It is amongst the most potent drugs known, being active at doses from about 20 micrograms. Typical doses are now about 20 to 80 micrograms although in the past, doses as high as 300 micrograms were common. Like other hallucinogens, dependence does not occur.

When taken orally, the effects become apparent within about 30 minutes and may continue for 8 to 12 hours or more. The duration and intensity of effects are dose-dependant. The plasma half-life is about two-and-a-half hours. Following a dose of 160 micrograms to 13 subjects, plasma concentrations varied considerably up to 9 micrograms/L. In humans, LSD is extensively transformed in the liver by hydroxylation and glucuronide conjugation to inactive metabolites. Only about 1% is excreted unchanged in the urine in 24 hours. A major metabolite found in urine is 2-oxylysergide.

Panic reactions (bad trips) may be sufficiently severe to require medical support. Patients usually recover within a few hours but occasionally hallucinations last up to 48 hours and psychotic states for 3 - 4 days. The effects are greatly affected by the set (an individual's mental state) and the setting (surroundings) in which the drug is taken. Sensory disturbances known as 'flashbacks' sometimes occur. Serious side-effects often attributed to LSD such as irrational acts leading to suicide or accidental deaths, are extremely rare. Deaths attributed to LSD overdose are virtually unknown [7].

After being taken, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) molecules are detected in the CNS by a large group of receptors that span cell membranes. These receptors (called G-protein coupled receptors or GPCRs) have many sub-types including those for the neurotransmitters dopamine (involved in reward-seeking behaviour) and serotonin (involved in the regulation of mood, appetite, sleep and memory). They recognise, and are stimulated by LSD molecules when they are in the body but outside cells then activate responses within cells that give rise to LSD's pharmacological effects.

In common with other psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs, LSD binds to many receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin receptors but not strongly enough to induce significant pharmacological effects at typical recreational doses. An exception to this is the serotonin 2A receptor (also known as the 5-HT2A receptor), which is known to induce hallucinogenic effects when stimulated by psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs (or agonists) such as LSD. Drugs that stimulate pharmacological effects after binding to receptors are called 'agonists'.

Although LSD binds tightly to the serotonin 2A receptor, the maximum pharmacological effect it causes is lower than that for other similar drugs and once that maximum is reached, further stimulation of these receptors is blocked. For this reason, LSD is described as a 'strong partial agonist' at the serotonin 2A receptor.

In contrast with other psychedelic/ hallucinogenic drugs that bind to serotonin receptors, LSD also binds to, and stimulates many dopamine receptors. This binding is thought to stimulate some of the non-hallucinogenic effects of LSD [4].

LSD is sensitive to oxygen, ultraviolet light, and chlorine (especially in solution) [14]. Its potency may last for years if it is stored away from light and moisture at cold temperatures around 0°C or below, but will slowly degrade at normal room temperature (25°C). In one study, there was a 10% loss of potency after LSD was kept at room temperature for one month [15]. However, there are also many anecdotal reports from users who have successfully stored LSD at room temperature for years which contradict the findings of this study [9].


3 - 5 hours [12].

Lethal dosage

The LD50 for human beings has never been reached in any setting and is predicted to be roughly 12,000 micrograms, based on studies involving rats whereas the active dosage is between 100 and 500 micrograms. This means that assuming a person has unusually potent tabs, each of which is 200 micrograms in strength, they would have to consume at least 60 of them to reach a potentially lethal dosage. Bear in mind that the average tab of LSD found on street dealers is perhaps 100 micrograms or less in strength [9].

The LD50 has not been determined, but some estimates suggest doses higher than 10mg (10,000 µg) may be fatal [13].


Tolerance to the effects of LSD is built almost immediately after ingestion. After that, it takes about 3 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 7 days to be back at baseline (in the absence of further consumption). LSD presents cross-tolerance with all psychedelics, meaning that after the use of LSD all psychedelics will have a reduced effect [9].

Tolerance develops rapidly to the effects of LSD. After the third or fourth consecutive days of taking LSD, no amount of the drug can produce the desired effects. However, after a short period of abstinence (about 3 - 4 days) normal tolerance returns [2].

Mechanism of action

How LSD works is not fully understood. One of its primary mechanisms of action is to act as a serotonin agonist (mimic) at a number of serotonin receptors [5].

Mode of use

As a street drug, LSD is usually sold as tiny squares of paper with pictures on them. These are most commonly called tabs or blotters. But it can also be found as a liquid or as tiny pellets.

Tabs (or pellets) are swallowed. Drops of liquid acid are sometimes dripped onto food, like a sugar cube, and then eaten. Acid can take from 20 minutes to up to two hours to take effect - so some people think it hasn't worked, take more and then find it's too much to handle.

Until you take a tab of acid you can't tell how strong it is or how it's going to affect you. How the trip goes can be affected by who you are, how you're feeling and how comfortable you are with the people you're with [1].

LSD usually comes in little paper squares (blotter) which have been soaked in tiny quantities of LSD solution and dried. Instead of paper, LSD has also been found in coloured gelatine pieces (gel tabs), tablets or very tiny pills called microdots. Once common was the use of sugar cubes which had a drop of LSD solution put on them. Alternatively, a solution can be directly dropped onto the tongue from a dropper bottle. When dealing with an actual LSD solution, there is a risk of taking much more than intended.

However it comes, the drug is held under the tongue and/or chewed. Few people would want to take LSD very regularly, people usually take it seriously and treat a trip as an infrequent and special experience [16].

LSD can be found in some forms -

  • liquid is often found in vials with a pipette. Liquid LSD is often dropped into the mouth, tongue, or dropped into sugar cubes before being consumed. There should be no bitter metallic taste which numbs the mouth, as this instead indicates the presence of a 25x-NBOMe compound,
  • tablets and microdots are very small tablets which are swallowed,
  • blotters are sheets of blotting paper that are dipped into an LSD/alcohol solution which is then either swallowed or chewed sublingually. There should not be a bitter metallic taste which numbs the mouth when chewing the blotters as this instead indicates the presence of a 25x-NBOMe compound,
  • powder can be taken orally, sublingually, via injection or by insufflation, but would usually be diluted to a liquid or 'laid' on blotter to allow for accurate dosing,
  • gel tabs can be taken orally and are small pieces of gelatin which contain LSD. These have been less common, but are still occasionally present in some areas of the world [9].

Signs of usage

LSD is odourless, colourless and is not associated with any paraphernalia and so there are no tell-tale smells or equipment associated with this drug.

The main indicators include -

  • dilated pupils,
  • significantly altered behaviour,
    • mood-swings,
    • responding to hallucinatory audio or visual cues,
    • experiencing hilarity or panic,
    • disjointed, random or fantastic conversations,
    • fixating on objects or thoughts,
    • not responding to cues and questions in a normal way [5].


A good trip can make users feel relaxed and happy, with pleasant hallucinations. A bad trip can make you feel agitated and confused, with unpleasant and scary hallucinations. How the trip goes can be affected by your surroundings, who you're with and how comfortable you are with them, and by your mood. If you don't feel safe or comfortable, you're more likely to have a bad trip [1]. See also bad trips.

It can also have other effects -

  • A trip can appear to involve a speeding up and slowing down of time and movements, while colour, sound and objects can get distorted. Users experience hallucinations.
  • LSD can also make you feel tired, anxious, panicky and depressed.
  • LSD can cause unpleasant, frightening or scary hallucinations and distortions of your senses - and these effects can be quite unpredictable.
  • Trips can feed off your imagination and may heighten a mood you're already in. So if you're in a bad mood, feeling worried or depressed, LSD may just make these feelings worse [1].

Short-term effects

Physical effects

  • dilated pupils,
  • raised body temperature,
  • rapid heartbeat,
  • elevated blood pressure,
  • increased blood sugar,
  • salivation,
  • dry mouth,
  • tingling fingers and toes,
  • weakness,
  • tremors,
  • palpitations,
  • facial flushing,
  • chills,
  • gooseflesh,
  • sweating,
  • nausea,
  • loss of appetite,
  • dizziness,
  • blurred vision,
  • sleeplessness [17].

Psychedelic effects

  • visual hallucinations, ranging from intensified colour or flashes of light to geometric designs to distortions of reality or completely new images seen with the eyes open or closed,
  • intensification of smells, sounds, and other sensations,
  • sense of heightened understanding,
  • distorted sense of time,
  • distorted perception of body,
  • sense of depersonalisation in which the one feels one's mind has left one's body,
  • synaesthesia,
  • the sense that one is undergoing a profound mystical or religious experience [17].
Adverse reaction - bad trips
  • intense anxiety,
  • panic,
  • delusions,
  • paranoia,
  • rapid mood swings,
  • the sense that one is losing his/her identity,
  • the fear one is disintegrating into nothingness and reality does not exist [17]

The frightening and disorienting effects of bad trips are known to result in -

  • violent or hazardous behaviour, leading to accidental fatalities, homicides, self-mutilation, or suicide,
  • some users may experience seizures [17].

Long-term effects

  • Drug-induced Psychosis - for some people, even those with no history or symptoms of psychological disorders, a distorted ability to recognise reality, think rationally, or communicate with others caused by LSD may last years after taking the drug,
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) - known familiarly to LSD users as 'flashbacks', HPPD episodes are 'spontaneous, repeated recurrences of some of the sensory distortions originally produced by LSD'. The flashback experience may include visual disturbances such as halos or trails attached to moving objects or seeing false motions in the peripheral vision [17].

Physical effects

  • spontaneous tactile sensations,
  • stimulation,
  • nausea,
  • muscle spasms,
  • tactile enhancement,
  • bodily control enhancement,
  • difficulty urinating,
  • increased blood pressure,
  • increased heart rate,
  • perception of decreased weight,
  • physical euphoria,
  • pupil dilation [9].

Cognitive effects

The cognitive effects of LSD can be broken down into several components which progressively intensify proportional to dosage. In comparison to other psychedelics such as Psilocin, LSA and ayahuasca, LSD is significantly more stimulating and fast-paced in terms of the specific style of thought stream produced and contains a large number of potential effects.

The most prominent of these cognitive effects generally include -

  • addiction suppression,
  • analysis enhancement - this effect is consistent in its manifestation and introspection dominant,
  • anxiety - This effect is not as common at low to moderate doses and is less likely to occur when the basic rules of set and setting are taken into account. This inconsistently induced effect is seemingly more likely to manifest when used with cannabis. This combination should be used with extreme caution if one is not experienced with psychedelics,
  • conceptual thinking,
  • creativity enhancement,
  • delusions,
  • déjà vu,
  • ego replacement,
  • emotion enhancement,
  • existential self-realisation,
  • feelings of eternalism,
  • feelings of interdependent opposites,
  • feelings of self-design,
  • focus enhancement - this effect is experienced exclusively on low or threshold dosages and feels less forced than stimulants,
  • immersion enhancement,
  • increased libido,
  • increased music appreciation,
  • laughter,
  • memory suppression,
    • ego death,
  • multiple thought streams,
  • novelty enhancement,
  • personal bias suppression,
  • personal meaning enhancement,
  • personality regression,
  • simultaneous emotions,
  • spirituality enhancement,
  • suggestibility enhancement,
  • thought acceleration,
  • thought disorganisation,
  • thought loops,
  • time distortion,
  • unity and interconnectedness,
  • wakefulness [9].

Visual effects

  • colour enhancement - in comparison to other psychedelics, this effect can be described as more radiant in appearance,
  • pattern recognition enhancement,
  • visual acuity enhancement,
  • magnification [9].
  • drifting (melting, breathing, morphing and flowing) - In comparison to other psychedelics, this effect can be described as highly detailed yet cartoon in its appearance. The distortions are slow and smooth in motion and fleeting in their appearance,
  • after images,
  • colour shifting,
  • depth perception distortions,
  • external geometry,
  • perspective distortions,
  • recursion,
  • scenery slicing,
  • symmetrical texture repetition,
  • tracers [9].

Auditory effects

  • auditory distortion,
  • auditory enhancement,
  • auditory hallucinations [9].

Physical effects

  • dilated pupils,
  • higher body temperature,
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure,
  • sweating,
  • loss of appetite,
  • sleeplessness,
  • dry mouth,
  • tremors [18].


Taking LSD does involve risks, here's what it could do to you -

  • if you panic or don't feel safe and comfortable with the people you're with and where you're taking LSD, the trip can be confusing and sometimes very scary. Good trips can be pleasant and amusing, but bad trips can be terrifying.
  • flashbacks sometimes happen. This is when part of the 'trip' is re-lived after the original experience. Flashbacks usually occur within weeks of taking LSD, but can be experienced months or occasionally even years later.
  • people have been known to harm themselves during a bad trip. So people in a bad mood, feeling depressed or worried should avoid taking acid.
  • LSD could have serious, longer-term implications for somebody who has a history of mental health problems. It may also be responsible for setting off a mental health problem that had previously gone unnoticed.
  • there's no evidence to suggest LSD does any long-term damage to the body or directly causes long-term psychological damage [1].

If you feel that you're having - or are going to have - a bad trip, let your friends know and get their help. Go to a nice quiet spot where you feel safe and can relax [1].


  • accidents,
  • anxiety,
  • emotional distress,
  • bad trip [6].


  • release or triggering of underlying psychological problems,
  • flashbacks [6].


It's rare for LSD to be impure [1]. Because LSD is so potent, there is no need for it to be adulterated. Laboratories rarely encounter the drug as a powder so rarely measure purity. Also it decomposes in light and at high temperatures [7], so trying to adulterate it would be rather difficult.

It is impossible to predict the strength of LSD on the street. While it is possible to get sold a piece of cardboard soaked in nothing, this is less common than one might suppose. However, LSD is not a very stable compound, and degrades in sunlight or warm conditions. So LSD ranges from being very weak to very strong.

To further complicate matters a novel psychoactive compound called 25i-NBOMe appeared on the market around 2013. It was initially unregulated in the UK and was sold on-line and via head-shops. It too was a powerful hallucinogen, with typical doses from around 500 µg. It was often sold on blotters in the same way that LSD was sold and some sources suggest that the same blotter designs associated with LSD were also used for 25-NBOMe (e.g. Purple Ohms).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that experienced users could probably subjectively differentiate the effects of the two drugs but for people with little or no previous experience with either drugs may not know which drug they have taken [5].


Can you get addicted

There is no evidence that LSD is addictive, but you can become tolerant to its effects. This means you need to take more of it to get the same effect as before [1].

Dangerous interactions

Although many drugs are safe on their own, they can become dangerous and even life-threatening when combined with other substances. The list below contains some common potentially dangerous combinations, but may not include all of them. Certain combinations may be harmless in low doses of each but still increase the potential risk of death. Independent research should always be done to ensure that a combination of two or more substances is safe before consumption.

  • tramadol - Tramadol lowers seizure threshold [19] and psychedelics may cause occasional seizures [12], [20],
  • stimulants - Stimulants may provoke anxiety or thought loops [12],
  • lithium - Individuals who take lithium for bipolar disorder or other psychiatric conditions should not take LSD. There are numerous anecdotal reports of seizures and or unsafe psychosis from this combination [21], [22], [23], [24].


  • Tramadol - Tramadol is well known to lower seizure threshold and psychedelics also cause occasional seizures [12].


  • Cannabis - Cannabis has an unexpectedly strong and somewhat unpredictable synergy with psychedelics.
  • Amphetamines - Stimulants increase anxiety levels and the risk of thought loops which can lead to negative experiences.
  • Cocaine - Stimulants increase anxiety levels and the risk of thought loops which can lead to negative experiences [12].


  • strong cravings,
  • agitation,
  • aggression,
  • paranoia,
  • depression [25].

Drug testing

How long LSD is detectable in the body depends on several variables, including which kind drug test is being used. LSD - also known as acid and microdot - can be detected for a shorter time with some tests, but can be 'visible' for up to three months in other tests.

How often the drug has been taken, how much as been used, and the potency of the dosage can also possibly play a role in how long LSD might be detected by a drug test.

The timetable for detecting LSD in the system is also dependent upon each individual's metabolism, body mass, age, hydration level, physical activity, health conditions and other factors, making it almost impossible to determine an exact time LSD will show up on a drug test [26].

Of all the hallucinogens, LSD is the most potent known to man. Taken orally, it takes as little as 25 micrograms or 0.000025 grams of LSD to produce rich and vivid hallucinations in the user.

While it is possible to test one's urine for LSD, the very tiny amounts involved makes detection very difficult. There is also the fact that it is rapidly removed from the body, usually within 24 - 48 hours.

Standard and cheap drug tests do not usually screen for LSD. But if it is specifically requested, there are a number of tests which can be performed to detect LSD in the body. Note that these tests tend to be more expensive than your basic drug testing process [27].

  • Abuscreen - This is a series of RadioImmunoAssay (RIA) tests developed by Roche Diagnostic Systems. One of these tests is used to screen whole blood, serum (blood), urine and stomach contents for LSD and its metabolites.
  • EMIT - Standing for Enzyme Multiplied Immunoassay Technique, EMIT is also a series of tests that can be done to detect LSD and its metabolites in serum and urine. It is a product of Syva Corporation [27].

The following is an estimated range of times, or detection windows, during which LSD can be detected by various testing methods -

How long does LSD stay in the urine?

LSD can be detected in the urine for 8 - 24 hours [26].

How long can LSD be detected in blood?

LSD can show up in a blood test for up to 3 hours [26].

How long can a saliva test detect LSD ?

A saliva test can detect psilocybin for up to 1 - 2 days [26].

How long can a hair test detect LSD?

LSD, like many other drugs, can be detected with a hair follicle drug test for up to 90 days [26].


  • LSD is a Class A drug, so it's illegal to have, give away or sell.
  • Possession is illegal and can get you up to seven years in jail and/or an unlimited fine.
  • Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you up to life imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine [1].

What if you're caught?

If the Police catch you with LSD, they'll always take some action. This could include a formal caution, arrest and prosecution.

A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries - for example the United States - and limit the types of jobs you can apply for [1].

Did you know?

  • Like drinking and driving, driving when high is illegal - and you can still be unfit to drive the day after using LSD. You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison.
  • Allowing other people to supply drugs in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a club they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any person concerned in the management of the premises [1].

Mixing with other drugs

  • Marijuana - When used in conjunction with cannabis, both the visual and cognitive effects of LSD can be intensified and extended with extreme efficiency. This should be used with caution if one is not experienced with psychedelics. Many users sometimes report a dramatically more intense visual trip when combining it with THC concentrates such as hashish as opposed to cannabis flower.
  • Dissociatives - When used in combination with dissociatives, the geometry, euphoria, dissociation and hallucinatory effects are often greatly enhanced. Dissociative-induced holes, spaces, and voids while under the influence of LSD have significantly more vivid visuals than dissociatives alone present, and more intense internal hallucinations and confusion.
  • MDMA - When used in conjunction with MDMA, the physical and cognitive effects of MDMA are amplified. The visual, physical and cognitive effects of LSD are also intensified with an overwhelming euphoric slant manifested through uniquely pleasurable body highs and headspaces, and uniquely colorful and awe-inspiring visuals. It is often recommended to wait at least three hours after ingesting LSD to take MDMA so as to avoid coming down from the latter while peaking on the former, but positive experiences are reported with all possible timings. The synergy between these substances is unpredictable, and it is best to start with lower dosages than one would take for both drugs individually.
  • Benzodiazepines - When in combination with benzodiazepines, benzodiazepines can, depending on the dosage, slightly to completely reduce the intensity of the cognitive, physical and visual effects of an LSD trip. They are very efficient at stopping bad trips at the cost of amnesia and reduced trip intensity. Caution is advised as the addiction potential for benzodiazepines is very high.
  • Psychedelics - When used in combination with other psychedelics, each drug's physical, cognitive and visual effects intensify and synergize strongly. The synergy between those substances is unpredictable, and it is recommended to start with lower dosages than one would take for either drug individually [9].
  • LSD + ice, speed or ecstasy - can increase the chances of a bad trip and can also lead to panic [28].
  • LSD + alcohol - increased nausea and vomiting [29].
  • alcohol - takes the edge off the effect and can help you to relax; drunkenness disappears during the trip; large amounts increase the nausea; drinking on the comedown is not recommended,
  • amphetamines - not really recommended; LSD has a speedy effect,
  • cannabis - dulls the experience in the come-up; heightens the peak; brings back the effect during comedown,
  • ecstasy (MDMA) - known as 'candy-flipping'; the E good feeling can reduce the chance of a bad trip but pay attention to E's safety requirements,
  • heroin - no information available,
  • mushrooms - cross tolerance usually present; not much point in taking other psychedelics at the same time,
  • tobacco - no dangers, but you should be aware of the damage smoking is doing to your lungs,
  • tranquillizers - police and medical staff are fond of administering Valium and other sedatives to bad trippers; its depressant effects can reduce panic in those experiencing deep anxiety; watch the dose, though; do not combine with other drugs with depressant qualities: alcohol, GHB, ketamine, heroin [27].

Harm reduction

Although LSD is not physically addictive, it is possible that a minority of users might become psychologically addicted to it (feeling like they need to keep using it). If you feel you are using more than you feel comfortable with, try taking a break for a few weeks. A short term tolerance to LSD will build up, so if you use for several days in a row the effect will be slightly less each day.

There have been some links established between people with existing psychological or mental health problems finding these worsened after using LSD. If you have a history of mental illness (such as depression) either personally or in your family, think very carefully before experimenting with LSD [4].

  • know your limits - don't start off with high doses, learn what your tolerance is gradually,
  • be aware that single doses can vary even in visually identical samples,
  • do not use LSD if you are taking lithium or tricyclic antidepressants - there can be extremely dangerous interactions between these substances,
  • try to use with people you know and trust around you, ideally at least one of whom is not using a substance, or at least make sure someone knows where you are,
  • try not to get overstimulated - it is very easy to get dehydrated if you're dancing for hours, and anxiety can sometimes set in, causing a potential increase in paranoiac ideation,
  • if you find or fear that you may be experiencing a 'bad trip' try to find a place you feel safe and remember - it will pass [4].
  • if users do become anxious they can usually be calmed down and reassured by others - a big hug often helps (called baby-sitting). Remember that bad trips will pass in time.
  • it is difficult to concentrate while tripping and very dangerous to drive or operate machinery.
  • do not use LSD if you are taking lithium or tricyclic antidepressants as it can interact with these substances in dangerous ways.
  • if dancing, remember to take time to rest and cool down. Sip a non-alcoholic drink slowly.
  • as with all drugs, start low by taking only a small amount [8].


Every feeling is enhanced with LSD, this is why you want to plan your trip carefully.

  • Always test your LSD. Other hallucinogens can be sometimes sold as LSD, many of these other drugs have a smaller safety window (i.e. the ratio of the typical lethal dose to the effective dose)
  • Don't try LSD if you are in a bad state and feel a bit down. You shouldn't take any drug when you are feeling low, but taking psychedelics is probably the worst idea. You can easily fall into a very unpleasant rabbit hole.
  • Try to have a trip-sitter look after you during your trip. Ideally, this would be someone who remains sober, has had previous experience with psychedelic drugs, and has read this guide! Or, let someone you trust know when and where you are planning to take it.
  • Always take it with other people and, whenever it is possible, with familiar and kind faces. Experienced users might start trying it out on their own, often to seek artistic or intellectual inspiration.
  • Set and setting, i.e. the place you choose to take LSD, is extremely important. It should be a familiar and safe place. Avoid places that may trigger negative feelings for you or unsecure and unsafe locations with a lot of people. If possible, prepare the site beforehand with a friend you trust.
  • Prepare a music list.
  • Gather any items you want to experiment with during your trip (books, videos, pen and paper etc.)
  • Don't carry valuables while tripping as it's easier to become disoriented and forgetful. Stay hydrated - bring a bottle of water and some light snacks [11].

Scientists, writers, doctors and gurus have written a lot about strategies, ideas and mindsets one should take into account to enhance the experience beyond the limits of your consciousness [11].


Generally, the LSD experience can be divided into different stages -

Initial effects (come-up)

  • slight visual changes,
  • sense of intoxication,
  • uncontrollable need to laugh,
  • euphoria,
  • anxiety [11].

The peak and plateau

  • increase of visuals,
  • time distortion,
  • synaesthesia,
  • loss of the sense of self,
  • spiritual-experience,
  • suggestibility [11].

The come-down

  • gradual decrease of physical and psychological effects,
  • insomnia [11].


The LSD experience, even when positive, can often be emotionally and physically draining. Many people like to have a free day after taking LSD, not to recover from the hangover, but so they can reflect on the experience as it helps you to gain an even greater insight from the trip. Know yourself! [11]

LSD hangover?

You might feel an afterglow for some hours or days or you might feel a bit off. People vary a lot on their feelings and mood after the trip. If you avoid a bad trip and get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and eat a sensible amount of food, you should wake up in your usual state.

You might still feel that the world looks a bit weird after the trip, so avoid driving, cycling or doing any risky activities. Wait around 24 hours before doing anything that requires your full attention and physical coordination [11].


LSD enjoyed high levels of popularity during the sixties and seventies. After waning popularity it experienced a resurgence in the late 80's. Since then however it has dropped massively in popularity, having been supplanted by stimulants like cocaine, other hallucinogens like magic mushrooms, ecstasy and emergent Novel Psychoactive Compounds.

Whereas in 1996 almost 14% of 16 - 24 year olds reported having used LSD, by 2012/13 this had dropped to around 2% [5].


LSD was invented by Albert Hoffman and there is a story that he discovered the hallucinogenic effects by accident, when he spilled some liquid LSD on himself [16].

LSD was first synthesised in the laboratory of Albert Hoffman in 1938 from the alkaloids found in the ergot fungus. However, its psychoactive properties were not fully appreciated until 1943, and it was marketed under the trade name 'Delysid'’ 'y Sandoz Laboratories in 1947 for use in treating psychiatric patients. LSD has an interesting history and has had many noted advocates for its ability to provoke the 'big' philosophical questions, such as the meaning of life, sex (although LSD is not noted for its aphrodisiac qualities) and mortality, these are often the genesis of bad trips. Beginning in the 1950's the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began a research programme code named Project MK-ULTRA. Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, people at both ends of the intelligence and social spectrum and random members of the general public in order to study their reactions, often without the subject's knowledge. The project was revealed in a US congressional report in 1975, after much speculation about its existence, design and purpose.

LSD began to become popular recreationally in the US in the 1960's. The increase in its use coincided with the rise of the psychedelic/hippy movement, to whose devotees it was considered to be mind-expanding. This trend soon caught on in the UK, and 'acid trips' have continued to have a place in certain sub-cultures (especially amongst 'e' generation clubbers, where it was known throughout the 1990's as 'acc-eeid') up to the present day where it remains popular in 'club' settings, something that would have been unthinkable to the original users. It was scheduled in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 [4].

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann first synthesised LSD in 1938 as an employee of the Santoz Laboratories. Hofmann was conducting research on the therapeutic value of the lysergic acid compounds as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant, though no great effects were discovered and his research was discontinued. Hofmann discovered the hallucinogenic effects of LSD in 1943 when he accidentally ingested some of the drug. This discovery renewed interest in the drug as a possible treatment for schizophrenia and as a research tool in studying mental illness [30]. In 1947, Sandoz marketed LSD under the trade name 'Delsid' as a psychiatric panacea, curing everything from schizophrenia and criminal behavior to sexual perversions and alcoholism; they introduced it to the United States prescription drug market a year later [18].

From the 1940's to the mid 1970's, LSD was extensively researched in the psychiatric community. Psychiatric students were encouraged to use LSD as a teaching tool to help understand schizophrenia. Soon, LSD emerged as a drug of abuse by some in the psychiatric and medical community who shared it with friends. By the 1960's, casual use of LSD evolved into a subculture that celebrated mysticism and psychedelia and embraced media personalities such as Harvard University instructor Dr. Timothy Leary [18].

Though casual LSD use spread through the early 1970's, publicity about the negative effects of LSD, such as 'flashbacks' and bad trips, as well as prohibitive legislation and the efforts of law enforcement agencies led to a decreased popularity by the mid-seventies. By the early 1980's, the value of LSD use in psychotherapy was discredited, and scientific study of the drug ended [18].

Today's recreational users of LSD often include people in their late teens and early twenties who are involved in the psychedelic music scene [18]. In the 1990's, LSD was among the ranks of 'club drugs' that, along with MDMA and ketamine, was found at dance clubs and large underground parties known as raves [31]. A recent national study suggests LSD use among high school students is declining, and may be at its lowest level in many years [32], [17].

First synthesised by Albert Hofmann on November 16, 1938, LSD went on to become a staple of the psychedelic world and the centerpiece of the 1960s counterculture. On April 19, 1943, Hofmann returned to investigate LSD further and ingested 250 micrograms of LSD. Hofmann believed this dose to have a minuscule, threshold effect. He rode his bicycle home and later wrote that, "... little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux ..." This day in history later became known as Bicycle Day and is celebrated by LSD enthusiasts as the world's first LSD trip [13].


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