LSD is the most widely studied psychedelic, with hundreds of published research papers (see below). An LSD experience is similar in many ways to psilocybin mushrooms, but often individuals feel like they are better able to direct and control the experience.
LSD studies have shown success in treating depression, anxiety, smoking cessation, and many other psychological conditions. LSD consistently produces powerful long-term improvements in these conditions, even with just a single dose.
Before you begin, be sure to read our safety section and see the special safety considerations for LSD at the bottom of this page.
LSD is a powerful chemical and taking the correct dose is essential. Because LSD is active at very, very small quantities and because it is typically delivered on small pieces of paper, it is difficult to independently assess the dose (this issue is less of a problem with mushrooms or MDMA). Taking too much LSD can lead to feelings of dissociation and alienation.
Be sure that you know the dose that you are taking. A single ‘dose’ or ‘tab’ of LSD can vary widely in strength, so make sure you know the quantity in micrograms. A 100ug dose is a good starting point if you have never taken LSD before and should provide a calm and opening experience. If you are interested in deeper psychological work or spiritual exploration, and have a lot of experience at lower does, you may decide to move up to 400 or 500ug, but only do so if you are very comfortable with lower doses. Do not use LSD unless you are very confident of the quality and dose that you have. It’s best to use a source that someone you know has also used and can vouch for.
How to Take LSD
LSD will typically be delivered on small pieces of paper that the LSD is diffused onto. It may also be provided in liquid or pill form, or even diffused into a sugar cube.
Be sure that you have set aside enough time in a comfortable setting. LSD experiences last a long time. You will need about 6-7 hours for a 100 ug dose and then there will be a gentle decline in intensity over a few hours. Make sure you won’t feel rushed or intruded upon, so that you can focus on the experience and get the most benefit. We highly recommend taking LSD at least 12 hours before you plan to go to bed, as it can keep you awake, even after the effects have mostly worn off. You should consider eating before you take the LSD as you may not feel hungry during the experience.
Make sure you have the right dose ready. Start with 100ug if you aren’t sure what level is best for you. Try 300ug if you have some experience and are feeling confident. Start with 50ug if you are feeling very nervous about the process– this will create a subtle, but noticeable shift in mood and awareness, but will not lead to a significant shift in consciousness.
Third, place the dose under your tongue and leave it there for about 10 minutes, until the paper mostly dissolves.
Once you take the LSD, you will have about 30-60 minutes before the effects are strong. This is another chance to make sure you get setup with anything you will want to have handy. Lots of folks like to write during the experience, about their ideas and feelings, so you may want to have paper or a computer handy. If you are interested in addressing particular emotional or psychological challenges in your life, you may want to make a list of issues that you want to think about during the experience.
As the effects begin to occur, you will start to notice a change in your perception of the world. You may see some slight changes in your visual perception — subtle rainbow halos around lights, trails behind moving objects, geometric patterns when your eyes are closed, and moving or swirling or crawling patterns on surfaces. These effects can be fun to look at, but don’t let them become too much of a distraction from thinking about your self, your life, and your perception of the world.
Once the LSD has fully taken effect (60-90 minutes after you take it), you’ll notice that your thoughts and emotions feel different. While the effects can vary widely from person to person and moment to moment, you are likely to feel some of the following: a sense of wonder and delight, openness to thoughts and feelings that you usually avoid, a sense of peace, a sense of connection to the world, clarity about relationships and people in your life, unity with the universe, excitement and joy, strong emotions. LSD generally dissolves mental boundaries, making it easier to feel thoughts and emotions and letting you fully immerse yourself in an idea or feeling. This can be powerful at times, you may become very happy or very sad, very thoughtful or frustrated or engaged with an idea. LSD has even been shown to enhance problem solving for science and engineering professionals, given its ability to allow deep immersion in a thought with heightened creativity and openness to new ways of tackling a problem. It is important to remember two things as you begin your LSD experience: 1. stay open to your feelings and let them flow through you lightly with love and as little resistance as possible 2. if you feel stuck on an idea or a sad emotion, start thinking about something positive and you will notice that your mood changes rapidly (it is typically much easier to direct your mood and feelings while using LSD compared to other psychedelics and even compared to typical conscious states).
As you experience this process, try to stay as open to your feelings and ideas as you can. If you have been depressed or stressed or anxious, you’ll find that you can still feel those feelings intensely and they can be very, very immersive. However you’ll also notice that there’s a certain softness present in even the most difficult feelings– you may still feel troubled by a problem in your life, but you’ll also be able to look at the issue with more openness and the fear that you associate with that problem will be much reduced. The more you can stay open to even the most challenging feelings, the more meaningful and effective the experience will be. As you think about difficulties in your life or things that have led to anxiety and depression, try to find new ways of approaching those feelings and opportunities to come at those challenges in a new way. You’ll find that just spending time thinking about challenges in your life will help you re-store those memories and ideas without as much associated stress and fear.
Don’t forget to spend some time just relaxing into the experience. LSD lasts for 6-8 hours before gradually trailing off and it’s worth taking some time to gently relax and be present with the experience without specific goals or focused thoughts. Not only does it give you relief and relaxation, but you may find that important realizations arise about issues that you weren’t even expecting to think about.
As the effects of LSD start to fade, you will have several hours of gradual reduction in the intensity of the feelings. This can be a good time to write about your experience or talk with a friend or loved one about what you’ve been experiencing. Gradually, you will start to feel back to your normal self, and this can lead to a bit of disappointment as your typical mental habits start to pop up. Getting to such a free space and then coming back to yourself can leave you longing to always be so free. But as you think about your experience and the ideas and feelings you had, you’ll realize that so much of that freedom and openness is still with you. Take some time to think about what’s happened and to remind yourself to bring some of that openness into your day to day life.
Typically, people feel very free and open in the days following an LSD experience. Remember that you need at least 12 hours before you try to sleep, so if you begin too late in the day, you may have some trouble falling asleep and could be a little tired the next day.
Most people find that they have an afterglow from their LSD experience that can last days or weeks, improving their mood and outlook and keeping them very open to others. Ideas and issues that you explored during the experience will have a new clarity too them. Emotionally difficult topics, memories, and experiences are likely to feel much safer and will bring up less fear when you remember them. You are likely to feel better able to tackle challenging emotional experiences in your life.
LSD has been shown in many research settings to dramatically reduce anxiety, depression, and other psychological challenges with just a single dose. However, you may wish to repeat the experience a few times to further explore and address any emotional and psychological issues that you are working with.
Safe Use of Psychedelics
The purpose of this site is to provide science-based information about how to safely use psychedelics. Following basic safety precautions dramatically reduces any risks.
Safety with psychedelics is important not just because these are powerful substances but also because creating a safe environment and approach will make treatment much more effective. Crucially, when psychedelics are used in a safe and comfortable setting, it becomes easier for people to relax and open themselves to the experience and gain the most benefit.
The most common psychedelics — LSD, mushrooms, MDMA — are far safer to their users and the people around them than drugs like alcohol, tobacco, and many prescription medicines. However, because of prohibition in many countries, there is far less available information and far more uncertainty about the sources and contents of psychedelic substances. Caution is very important.
We recommend psychedelics be taken only when you are in good health (unless you have decided to use it specifically to deal with an illness or in alleviating end of life anxiety). Those with heart problems should avoid psychedelics unless specifically discussed with a doctor. Pregnant women should not take psychedelics.
During a psychedelic experience, the mind/body connection is usually magnified. Any physical pain or discomfort (including something as small as hunger pangs) can affect the nature of the experience. Women should avoid tripping when experiencing menstrual cramps. If a woman typically experiences strong pre-menstrual symptoms (back aches, bloating, moodiness, headaches etc) it’s advisable to postpone the trip until they have subsided.
Entering a psychedelic journey with a comfortable and healthy body will help you toward a positive and meaningful experience.
For the advanced psychedelic user, a trip to deliberately investigate physical discomfort or pain may prove beneficial in understanding the mind/body connection and creating a deeper connection with your physical body.
Elements of a Safe Experience
Here are the some components of a safe psychedelic experience:
- Careful Dosing
It is absolutely essential to know the dose of the substance you are taking. Carefully weigh any substance and consult sites like Erowid.org to determine appropriate dose amounts. If you are unsure about the right dose level to begin or if you are feeling anxious, start very small and try more another day.
- Trustworthy Source
Be absolutely sure that you know what you are taking. Only use substances from a trusted source. Only take substances that you are confident are pure and high quality.
- Comfortable Setting
Always use psychedelics in a place where you feel comfortable and safe, like your home or a friend’s home. Make sure you have plenty of time to stay in the space for the duration of the experience. Feeling any time pressure can introduce stress or anxiety to an experience.
Setup the room that you will be in so that it feels cozy and pleasant. Have a comfortable place to sit or lie down, have pillows and decorations. You may want to have some music to listen to as well (music without words is recommended, as it is less likely to pull your thoughts away).
Keep in mind that going from place to place, being in a public setting, or dealing with logistical matters can be difficult while using psychedelics and can also be a source of anxiety. This is not recommended and can distract your focus.
When in doubt: be very cautious, don’t rush, and start small.
Don’t take a psychedelic for the first time without someone present who has experience with that substance. Make sure this is someone who you trust to help talk you through any stressful or confusing moments. Having trusted support is incredibly helpful for letting you feel safe and open to the experience. In addition, having someone around to help with practical needs (like getting you a glass of water) will let you focus on the process. Even if you have lots of experience with psychedelics, we recommend having a trusted person present (they don’t need to be in the same room, just on hand).
Age and Mental State
We generally believe that psychedelics are most appropriate for people in their mid-20’s and older. We don’t know of research that has explored age-associated effects, but anecdotally, older individuals tend to take a more serious and intentional attitude towards psychedelic exploration.
If you have a dissociative psychological disorder, we do not recommend that you use psychedelics. Again, there is not good research on this topic and anecdotal reports are highly contradictory– some people have had their conditions healed by use of psychedelics, others have found it has made their symptoms worse. We encourage you to err on the side of caution for these types of disorders.
Be sure to very carefully research any potential interactions with other prescription or non-prescription medicines or supplements that you are taking. In particular, anti-depressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic medications are not safe to take with psychedelics.
Before using a particular psychedelic for the first time, you may want to gauge your sensitivity to it. Some people are much more sensitive to certain substances than others. One mushroom cap might feel strong for one person and very mild for another.
If it is your first time taking a substance, try to take a very small tester amount (less than 1/10th of a dose) a few days before your planned trip. You may not feel any effects, but you will be able to roughly judge your sensitivity if you do, and you may feel more comfortable when the time comes to take a standard dose.
Several companies make purity testing kits for various substances, including MDMA and LSD. These can be found easily on Amazon.com or with a Google search. If you are uncertain about the purity of a substance, it’s always better to test and be safe.
- As stated above, be very careful to get the correct dose and be sure that the LSD is from a trusted source.
- Do not use LSD if you are currently taking psychoactive pharmaceuticals, such as anti-depressents, SSRIs, anti-anxiety drugs, etc. Always research any supplements or other medicines that you may be taking to avoid interactions.
News and Research on LSD Therapy
New York Times
How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death
LSD and Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy for Anxiety
Pubmed research database search for “LSD”
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