How Common Is LSD Overdose?

How Common Is LSD Overdose?

While a physical LSD overdose is rare, many people experience dangerous or violent consequences

It is extremely rare for a person to take too much LSD and suffer serious or life-threatening physical symptoms. While a physical LSD overdose is rare, many people experience dangerous or violent consequences while going through a LSD-induced hallucination.

Although an overdose on LSD is unlikely, it’s possible for too much LSD to destroy a person’s life. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), or “acid,” is a psychedelic hallucinogen that takes a user on a “trip” lasting up to 12 hours or more. It has dangerous interactions with antidepressants and lithium, but overdose deaths are essentially non-existent since a person would need to take 100 to 200 doses at one time. Still, LSD is unquestionably one of the most powerful recreational drugs, and its effects can lead to scary, dangerous and even deadly situations.[1]

Dangerous Effects of LSD

A 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. It’s illegal in the United States and is a Schedule 1 drug with no accepted medical use.1

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

An “LSD overdose” typically involves anxiety morphing into full-blown panic attacks. This is known colloquially as a bad trip. In cases of extreme panic and paranoia by LSD users, it may be necessary to seek emergency medical attention, especially 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.[2]

In addition to possible panic, an LSD trip produces several physical changes. These changes vary widely between users, but 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

A person under the effects of LSD sees things that aren’t actually there; solid surfaces ripple or breathe; objects move, change shape or color. 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.[3]

LSD use also causes flashbacks after the primary effects wear off. These involuntary recurrent memories are powerful enough to make a person unaware if the events are happening in real time. This typically occurs in the days following a trip, often triggered by exhaustion or other drug use, but a flashback can ultimately occur up to a year after the original trip.[4]

LSD Addiction and Treatment

Though the body quickly develops a tolerance to LSD that requires higher doses to achieve the same effects, LSD is not physically addictive. While psychological addictions may develop, they are not common. A physical detox is unnecessary for LSD users, unless they also are taking other drugs.4

Someone who uses LSD excessively needs professional treatment, which includes the following:

  • Mental health screenings to assess any mood disorders or emotional issues
  • Treatment for any depression, anxiety, mania, psychosis or schizophrenia
  • Examination to determine psychological reasons that initiated the abuse
  • Behavioral therapies to purge bad habits and instill a healthy new lifestyle
  • Ongoing group support and aftercare counseling to monitor progress[5]

Professional treatment centers also offer aftercare options, including access to support groups, to help a person live successfully in recovery.

Need Help for LSD Abuse?

Is LSD taking you on a bad trip? Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to help. Call our toll-free number to discuss LSD abuse, treatment options and signs of adverse effects. Many health insurance companies cover treatment, and we will gladly check your policy. Call today and get the help you need.


[1] Davis, Kathleen. (2015). What is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)? Effects and hazards of LSD. Medical News Today. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016 from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295966.php.

[2] Rega, Paul P. (2015). LSD Toxicity. Medscape. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016 from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1011615-overview.

[3] Burgess, Patrice and Monti, Peter. (2014). LSD Topic Overview. WebMD-Healthwise. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016 from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/tc/lsd-topic-overview.

[4] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What are hallucinogens? Drug Facts. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.

[5] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016 from http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders.