How to take LSD (Acid)

Learn how to take LSD. Did you know that it's possible to avoid most 'bad' trips?

How to take LSD (Acid) the TripSafe way πŸ‘½

Thank you to Matthew Johnson, Bill Richards, and Roland Griffiths, for all of their work, and particularly their safety research.

Emphasizing safety is important.

These guidelines are designed to maximize the chance of lasting positive benefits, and to minimize the chance of any challenging or “bad” trips.

Follow the steps on TripSafe to be as safe as possible, and have the best, most rewarding LSD experience, if you’re planning to take LSD. Remember, no drug use is perfectly safe. But you can take LSD in a safer manner.

LSD is not risk-free and is illegal. If you’re planning to take LSD, trip safe. πŸ‘½

“It is highly advised to approach this very potent, unpredictable, long-lasting hallucinogenic substance with the proper amount of precaution and harm reduction practices if choosing to use it.” - PsychonautWiki

What had been clear to Hofmann almost immediately had by this time been observed independently by Osmond and a host of others: for LSD to have the greatest positive effect, subjects needed to take it in a safe, supportive, and aesthetically pleasing environment with a clear idea of what to expect. When difficult issues arose-as they often did-the safe setting and supportive presence of a therapist would allow the subject to process this emotional dynamite, defuse it, and transcend it.1

“taking very high doses of LSD under very uncontrolled conditions … really is a crapshoot”2

πŸ™‹ Safe use is important to avoid adverse reactions

We do not promote the use of illegal psychoactive substances. This content has been created strictly for harm reduction purposes.

These safe use guidelines are based off research into the clinical and research use of psychedelics.

“Persisting adverse reactions are rare when research is conducted along these guidelines. Incautious research may jeopardize participant safety and future research.”3

β˜‘οΈ Safer and more enjoyable usage checklist

  • πŸ‘¨β€βš•οΈ 1. I have no LSD-dangerous health conditions
  • πŸ’‰ 2. I'm not taking medicines that may interact with LSD
  • βš– 3. I will start with 30-70 micrograms if I want to maximize positive long-term benefits
  • πŸ’― 4. I have purchased an Ehrlich's reagent test kit, or I at least have reviews of my LSD's purity
  • πŸ˜‡ 5. I have a trusted, experienced, sober guide who is willing to prepare fully and be with me for 16 hours
  • 🏠 6. I'll take it in a safe, pleasant, and familiar environment
  • πŸ˜„ 7. I'm going to wait until I'm in a good mindset and have been for a few weeks
  • πŸ“ 8. I've read the "prepare yourself" section
  • πŸ•Ά 9. I have an eyeshade and headphones
  • πŸ™ 10. I deeply understand why psychedelics should be treated with respect
  • πŸ—“ 11. I won't trip again until I feel I'm fully re-adjusted to regular life after my previous trip

Many LSD users are instead seeking to optimize fun instead of lasting positive benefits and safety, in which case some of these guidelines may not apply. For example, if optimizing more for fun and less for safety, a user may prefer not to use a blindfold and headphones, and may choose to drop acid at a festival or in nature instead of in a safe home environment.

We believe the most important tips that should be followed by everyone regardless of their purpose for taking LSD are:

  1. Avoid with certain health conditions
  2. Avoid drugs that interact with LSD
  3. Have a trusted, sober guide who is experienced in supporting psychedelic sessions
  4. Respect psychedelics
  5. Test your LSD

🚫 Risks to avoid

Serious risks:

  1. Death or injurity due to ingesting fake LSD (i.e. not pure LSD).4
  2. Doing something unsafe while on the drug. Users may not have their regular common sense about them, and may cause minor or serious harm to themselves or others.5
  3. Psychotic episodes if you have a pre-disposition to mental illness3

These risks can be reduced to near zero with proper precautions.

It’s also preferrable and possible to reduce the risk of having a bad trip.

What correlates with having a bad trip?

  • Higher doses
  • Being in a bad emotional state before taking psychedelics
  • Being in an uncomfortable setting
  • Not having social support during the session
  • Not having a sitter during the session6

LSD Bad Trip Causes

πŸ‘¨β€βš•οΈ 1. Avoid with certain health conditions

β›‘ Helps avoid serious risks.

Avoid if you have any of these contraindicated conditions:

  • No current or past history of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, no Bipolar I or II disorder, and no first or second-degree (“A second-degree relative is defined as a blood relative which includes the individual’s grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces or half-siblings.”) relatives with these disorders.3
    • “Thorough psychiatric interviews (e.g. SCID; First, et al., 2001) should be conducted to identify contraindicated psychological functioning or history.”
    • And don’t have a schizoid personality
  • High scores on the personality traits of rigidity and emotional lability (Emotional lability is a disorder characterized by involuntary emotional displays of mood that are overly frequent and excessive, often the result of various neuropathologies)3

You should have:

  • Good general health, not pregnant3
  • Healthy blood pressure3
    • “in our studies of psilocybin to date, volunteers have been excluded if resting blood pressure exceeded 140 systolic and 90 diastolic (mmHg), averaged across four assessments on at least two separate days.”

πŸ’‰ 2. Avoid drugs that interact with psychedelics

β›‘ Helps avoid serious risks.

You should:

  • Not be using tricyclic antidepressants or lithium, SSRIs, haloperidol, or MAOIs (some of these increase psychedelic effects, some of them reduce effects).3
  • Not be using 5-HTP, St John’s Wort or any other supplements that “may affect serotonergic function”3
  • Do not consume cannabis or dronabinol for at least 24 h before a session.3
  • Not be using Ritonavir/Indinavir7

Tricyclic antidepressants include: Amitriptyline, Anafranil, Asendin, Aventyl, Elavil, Endep, Norfranil, Norpramin, Pamelor, Sinequan, Surmontil, Tipramine, Tofranil, Vivactil.

SSRIs are not reported to cause a dangerous interaction, though they are reported to substantially decrease the effects of LSD.

Some users choose to consume cannabis while on LSD. Research recommends against this for anyone seeking to minimize risks and anxiety while tripping.3

βš–οΈ 3. Use a safe dosage and start with 30-40 micrograms

β›‘ Helps avoid serious risks and 😁 helps maximize positivity.

Start small

Griffiths et al. found that starting with small doses and increasing over time with the subsequent sessions (at “1-month intervals”) generally produced greater persisting positive effects.8

You’re more likely to benefit from psychedelics in clinical settings when starting first with low doses. “The researchers also found that participants who received lower psilocybin doses before the higher doses were more likely to have long-lasting positive changes in attitudes, behavior, and remembered mystical-type experiences than those who received the highest dose first.” Following the researcher’s protocol would approximately involve doing a 30-40 microgram trip first, then a 60-80 microgram before anything larger, then a 120-140 microgram before anything larger, then either stopping there (this was the dosage that resulted in the highest increase in well-being) or doing a 170-240 microgram trip.9 8

Dosage

With acid, start first with 30-40 micrograms.10 8

You may then increase to a maximum of 60-80 (67) micrograms, then a maximum of 120-140 (133) micrograms, and then a maximum of 170-240 (200) micrograms.10 8

If you’re particularly eager, you can skip the smallest dose and jump to ~67 micrograms first.

Why bother starting slowly? Clinical research indicates you’re more likely to experience lasting benefits if you start low, instead of starting high.

  • At a dosage of 200 micrograms of LSD10 in a therapeutic clinical environment, we might expect 86% of people to experience some extreme fear,8 for an LSD-adjusted (increase time to account for longer trip with LSD vs psilocybin) average of around ~22 minutes of strong anxiety11, and we might expect around ~65% to report a persisting positive increase in mood from this dosage assuming they had first tried 35 micrograms, then 67, then 133, then 2008
  • At a dosage of 133 micrograms10 in a therapeutic clinical environment, we might expect 14% of people to experience some extreme fear,8 for an LSD-adjusted average of around ~4 minutes of strong anxiety 11, and we might expect around ~60% to report a persisting positive increase in mood from this dosage assuming they had first tried 35 micrograms, then 67, then 133 8
  • At a dosage of 67 micrograms10 in a therapeutic clinical environment, we might expect 0% of people to experience some extreme fear,8 for an LSD-adjusted average of around ~2 minutes of strong anxiety11, and we might expect around ~45% to report a persisting positive increase in mood from this dosage assuming they had first tried 35 micrograms, then 678

Ensure high confidence in your dosage

Anecdotal reports suggest that dosage per tab is much easier to assess for LSD acquired online, and that acquired acquired offline varies wildly in how accurate what you’re told the dosage is vs what the dosage really is.

LSD purchased online is often substantially stronger per tab than if purchased offline / on the street, as suggested by anecdotal reports of users who had previously taken two tabs of “street LSD,” and then tried one tab of LSD purchased online and found the effects of one tab to be substantially stronger than their previous two tabs of street LSD.

You should re-assess your dosage and start at a low dosage again every time you get LSD from a new source.

Does dosage vary by weight?

It doesn’t seem like dose should vary by weight, at least not much. This is possibly because people who weigh more have more serotonin receptors and therefore don’t need a larger dose to account for increased weight. Though more research is needed.12

How can I convert between LSD (acid) and shrooms dosages?

See TripSafe’s LSD to Shrooms dosage converter.

To approximately convert from LSD to shrooms: LSD dosage in micrograms * 0.024 = shrooms dosage in grams.6 10

e.g. 100 micrograms of LSD * 0.024 = 2.4 (grams of dried shrooms)

This uses 6.25mg of psilocybin per gram of dried mushrooms6 and 1.5 micrograms of LSD being roughly equivalent to 225 micrograms of psilocybin.10

This is a rough approximation for many reasons, including that mushroom potency can be quite varied.

πŸ’― 4. Buy a test kit to ensure your LSD is not fake

β›‘ Helps avoid serious risks and 😁 helps maximize positivity.

If you’re not certain that it’s real LSD, it’s absolutely not worth taking it given the physical and mental risks that other common “fake acid” substances may possess.

Unfortunately, other substances are sometimes sold as LSD (acid). Of particular concern is NBOMe which unlike LSD, does not have low physiological toxicity, and sadly NBOMe has been involved in a few deaths in the last few years.4

All of TripSafe’s information and recommendations assume pure acid containing 100% LSD.

Purchasing online lowers the risk of fake LSD

Anecdotal reports suggest that LSD purchased online instead of offline is substantially more likely to be pure LSD and less likely to contain more dangerous substances and be “fake acid.”

If a family member was doing LSD, I would tell them not to get it from a dealer. “Firstly, it’s illegal, so you shouldn’t buy it and there are risks. But if you’re going to buy it anyway, do so online instead of from a dealer, and read reviews to increase your confidence before you order. You should test it as well, but realistically, Mr/Mrs family member, I expect if you order from a person with many reviews, you’ll end up with safe/mostly pure product.”

The most important test kit for LSD is the Ehrlich reagent.

Read about the best LSD test kits.

Shrooms may be safer than LSD

The risk of getting a dangerous counterfeit substance is dramatically lower with shrooms.

Shrooms also last for ~6 hours all up as opposed to ~12-18 hours, which is can be easier on the user and increases the chance you will be able to find a willing trip sitter. Trip sitters strongly increase safety and can also increase enjoyment by helping significantly shorten the duration of any anxiety.

For inexperienced users, the effects of LSD and shrooms are roughly the same, with the exception of a higher “body load” (feeling of heaviness) on shrooms. It is easy to find 100 reports online saying that shrooms are better or easier, just as it is easy to find 100 reports online saying that LSD or easier.

Dosage has a much greater impact on effects than substance does - 100 micrograms of LSD is roughly equivalent to 2.4g of shrooms, and 100 micrograms of LSD will feel more similar to 2.4g of shrooms than it would feel to 300 micrograms of LSD.

“If it’s bitter, it’s a spitter”

If your LSD has an extremely bitter taste and/or numbs your mouth after a few minutes, spit it out. Anecdotal reports suggest extreme bitterness indicates the presence of some NBOMe. This is not a great method, as it is both unreliable and can be an anxiety inducing way to begin an acid trip.

Blotter and/or ink may taste slightly bitter, so this method is not flawless (anecdotal reports).

Additionally, some DOx chemicals are orally active and will still have effects when swallowed.13

“NBOMes were initially thought to be orally inactive, meaning they wouldn’t work if swallowed. However, this is not the case for all NBOMes per se; certain NBOMe salts do have an observed oral bioavailability, with little known about the oral bioavailability of NBOMes in their freebase form. Therefore, when a substance might be an NBOMe, discard the blotter entirely rather than swallowing it, if you do not wish to risk being under the influence of an NBOMe.”14

UV light

If you aren’t willing to use a test kit but do have access to a UV/black light, following this guide is better than nothing. A test kit is certainly better, as this method is not foolproof: some paper glows under UV light regardless, and long exposure to UV will destroy LSD.

πŸ˜‡ 5. Have a trusted, sober guide who is experienced in supporting psychedelic sessions

β›‘ Helps avoid serious risks and 😁 helps maximize positivity.

In research on bad/challenging trips with psilocybin, “only 2.7% [of the people reporting a bad trip] had a trusted and sober guide present who was experienced in supporting psychedelic sessions.”6

“It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of the interpersonal atmosphere created by study staff in influencing a volunteer’s response to a hallucinogen.”3

Anecdotal evidence suggests that having a sitter that is not familiar with descriptions of altered states of consciousness can lead to unpleasant experiences.

Your guide/sitter:3

  • My sitter is "knowledgeable about the medical and psychological markers of potential adverse reactions to the drug"
  • My sitter has significant people skills
  • My sitter is "familiar with descriptions of altered states of consciousness induced by hallucinogens," even better if they have personal experience with meditation, holotropic breathing, yoga or psychedelics
  • My sitter has strong "clinical sensitivity (e.g., empathy, respect)"
  • I feel comfortable expressing all thoughts and aspects of myself (sorrow, my embarassments, etc) to my sitter
  • My sitter is comfortably available to sit silently if needed for ~16-18 hours
  • My sitter has read and understands this page on safety guidelines for psychedelics

🏠 6. Trip in a 100% safe, pleasing and familiar environment

β›‘ Helps avoid serious risks and 😁 helps maximize positivity.

A pleasant environment may reduce the chance of bad feelings while tripping.3

Your environment psychedelic-prep checklist:

  • πŸ€• “Any potentially dangerous objects (e.g., furniture with sharp corners; glass lamps) should be avoided.”3
  • πŸ–Ό No windows that could be exited “if in a delusional state”3
  • 🏑 You’re 100% familiar with the environment (you’ve spent at least a few hours there on a different day)3
  • Clean your space the night before, anecdotal reports suggest clutter and dirt can be uncomfortable while tripping
  • Have zero responsibilities on the day of the experience
  • Avoid any potentially dangerous environments
  • Avoid unpleasant things or people
  • Seek a private environment

A non-house environment increases the chance of something unexpected happening. Unexpected things can be hard to deal with on psychedelics. Please wait until you at least have a few experiences at the given dosage level before doing things like tripping in very public environments.

πŸ˜„ 7. Wait until you’re in a good mindset

Your trip will likely be easier and more enjoyable if you’re in a good mindstate both on the day, and have been in a good mindset in general in the previous few weeks.

While you’re on psychedelics, you’ll need to give up control and the desire to understand everything that is happening to you.

“Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.”

People are more likely to have challenging experiences (“bad” trips) if they have:

  • “Excessive initial apprehension”15
  • “Rigid but brittle defensive structures”15
  • “Considerable subsurface guilt and conflict”15
  • “People who find that the implications posed by the LSD experience are contrary to their basic philosophies become dysphoric,” with examples provided including: people who take LSD to prove that it has no value as a psychiatric tool, or a Zen Buddhist who takes LSD to prove that it does not match the transcendent state achieved through meditation
  • “Those whose major defense is paranoid projection”

πŸ“ 8. Prepare yourself

😁 Helps maximize positivity.

You should:

  • Optional but encouraged, buy and read The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide by Fadiman. If you aren’t convinced, listen to this podcast episode with Fadiman and author Tim Ferriss first.
  • Review “in plain language the range of experiences that may result from hallucinogen administration, including changes in perception, sense of time and space, and emotion (possibly including anxiety, fear, panic and paranoia).”3
    • “A detailed discussion concerning the range of possible hallucinogen effects will enhance safety by psychologically preparing the participant for the unique and often intense effects of a hallucinogen”3
    • “The major categories of potential psychological experiences during hallucinogen action should be discussed with the participant. The range of subjective experience under hallucinogens can be remarkably broad (Blewett and Chwelos, 1959; Richards, 1980; Masters and Houston, 1966; Strassman, 2001; Nichols, 2004; Stolaroff, 2004). This range of experiences includes perceptual changes, such as visual illusions, intensification of colours, proprioceptive changes (e.g. one’s body may feel gigantic or tiny), and synesthesia (e.g. seeing sounds or hearing colours). Another type of possible experience is the alteration of emotions, such that emotions of either a positive or negative nature may be greatly intensified, yielding experiences that may range from euphoria to despair. Another category of possible effects involves changes in the sense of time and space. At the extremes, time and/or space may be experienced as infinite or nonexistent. Other experiences may include thoughts, feelings or insights concerning one’s personal history (e.g. revisiting childhood memories) or current life circumstances (e.g. relations with loved ones), highly symbolic experiences (e.g. involving religious symbols, animals, etc.), and experiences described by some to be of a mystical or spiritual nature. Importantly, it should be emphasized that these experiences may consist of much more than the participant subjectively observing internal and external events. Rather, the effects may involve a profound change in one’s sense of self, such that one feels as if he or she is merging into the surrounding environment or the entire universe (Schultes, et al., 2001). The individual may temporarily experience a complete loss of subjective self-identity, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘ego loss’ or ‘ego death’ (e.g. Leary, et al., 1964; Grof and Halifax, 1977; Grof, 1980).”3
    • You do not need to read trip reports. “In the Johns Hopkins studies, we have not encouraged participants to read the diverse and widely varying published accounts of hallucinogen effects as part of their preparation, because this may introduce compelling idiosyncratic expectations.”3
  • Know how to deal with anxiety or fear
    • “Whether the disturbance consists of frightening illusions or internal imagery, difficult thoughts and feelings about some past or present personal issue, or anxiety related to a radical change in sense of self (e.g. temporary loss of self-identity), the volunteer is encouraged to mentally surrender to the experience, trusting that her or his usual state of consciousness will return when the drug effects resolve (Blewett and Chwelos, 1959; Masters and Houston, 1966; McCabe, 1977). For example, if the participant experiences disturbing internal imagery of a demon or monster, he or she is encouraged to mentally approach the figure and interact with it (e.g. imagine asking the figure why it has appeared), rather than attempt to flee from the disturbing imagery. The participant should be alerted that sometimes people experience extremely convincing sensations of dissolving, melting, exploding and so forth, and that the best way to deal with all such situations is to surrender to the experience, subjectively allowing oneself to dissolve, melt or explode. Similar advice applies to physical symptoms such as nausea; for example, participants may be encouraged to ‘dive in’ to their stomachs, which may alleviate the nausea, as it has been suggested anecdotally that nausea and other somatic discomforts may in part be of a psychosomatic nature (Blewett and Chwelos, 1959; Masters and Houston, 1966).”3
  • Know that it can take around two hours to reach peak effects on acid after ingestion, and that it’s not entirely uncommon for the effects to last for ~16-18 hours, and for you to feel somewhat different for the next two days3 16
  • Know that “there is a relatively small risk of adverse effects that last for hours to days after the hallucinogen session. These include mood disorders (such as depression), psychotic disorders and anxiety disorders. It should also state that there are rare reports in which hallucinogen exposure appears to cause, accelerate or precipitate the onset of significant or lasting psychiatric illnesses such as psychoses and intermittent or persisting visual perceptual abnormalities (‘flashbacks’, HPPD).”3
  • Know the “various potential physical sensations, such as nausea or heightened awareness of physiological processes, such as breathing and heartbeat,” and you “are encouraged to trust that their bodies will continue to function properly regardless of such sensations, and that these bodily processes will continue without the volunteers’ volitional control.”3
  • Build “rapport and trust” with your future sitter, “which we believe helps minimize the risk of fear or anxiety reactions during the hallucinogen session.”3
  • Make a 16 hour music playlist. Some psychedelic music ideas here, here and here.
  • Set your intentions, but don’t have expectations
    • An LSD user: “Spend an hour or two in nature the day before. I prefer to be alone and contemplate my intentions: why am I taking LSD? Do I want to reconnect to my artistic side? Do I want to explore the meaning of life? Do I want to slow down and just be in the moment? Do I want to watch Electric Sheep visualizers and play with glow sticks? These are very different than expectations, of which I’d suggest having none. Detailed plans tend to cause me stress. I once packed a backpack for three days before a trip, going as far as to draw a cross-section diagram to locate everything while peaking. I was fucking ready. Then I ate the acid and ended up watching ladybugs and grasshoppers and the clouds for a good four hours. I never even opened the bag. Intentions are good. Expectations are bad.”

🎧 9. Optional: Wear eyeshades and headphones

😁 Helps maximize positivity.

Eyeshades and headphones can make it safer. “The employment of eyeshades and headphones (through which supportive music is played) may contribute to safety by reducing the distractions of environmental stimuli and social pressures to verbally interact with research personnel. This may be especially important for volunteers who are experiencing the effects of a hallucinogen for the first time.”3

“Typically, we have kept eyeshades and headphones in place for most of the session. In the latter hours of the session some time is spent with the volunteer sitting on the couch, interacting without eyeshades and headphones, although music may still be played through speakers to provide nonverbal structure and continuity.”3

πŸ™ 10. Respect psychedelics

Have an appreciation for how powerful the psychological effects of psychedelics can be.3

Don’t trip again until you’ve completely integrated your previous trip into your life.

“People can have these experiences and get puffed up about them, rather than approaching them with humility,” Bogenschutz said. “They can become more grandiose and think they have special knowledge and wisdom.”2

πŸ—“ 11. Don’t trip again until you feel your previous trip has been fully integrated into your normal life

😁 Helps maximize positivity.

Integration involves taking your experience and trying to get positive benefits from it in your daily life.

Make no major decisions until at least a day or two, perhaps a little longer.15

More followup care should be given to those who consumed 150 micrograms or more.15

If needed, check out this list of psychedelic integration service offerings.

More tips

πŸ“… Follow these tips for the day of your trip

  • You should give your phone to the sitter3
  • No driving for the remainder of the day once you ingest the substance3
  • Treat psychedelics as a two day experience. So if you’re dropping acid, try and do it when there is a holiday the day after, or do it on a Saturday so you can rest on Sunday.
  • Get 8+ hours of sleep the night before and the night after.
  • Make sure you have zero responsibilities for the day (and ideally the day after, too, and even better if also true for the day before or at least a few hours the day before to prepare and set intentions)
  • Get some light food, perhaps some fruit and a kombucha
  • Eat a good and healthy meal 1-2 hrs before you trip (perhaps some eggs or oatmeal), as you will not have much of an appetite while tripping
  • Consider buying/finding a candle, “family photographs, a mirror, artistic objects, flowers, and other beautiful natural or manmade objects” to have available to look at while tripping
  • If you normally drink coffee in the morning, consider having a cup of caffeinated tea instead (will have slightly less caffeine, and also adds L-theanine should moderate some of the caffeine induced stimulation17)
  • Lean into the discomfort. (Alternatively: “Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.”)
  • Cool things to play with: eutow, and this fluid simulator

What are the best activities for an LSD trip?

  • For fun and entertainment
    • Enjoying nature
    • Hanging out with friends
  • For significance
    • Introspection
    • Looking at lit candles, “family photographs, a mirror, artistic objects, flowers, and other beautiful natural or manmade objects”

The Trip Sitter Guide

Read the psychedelic trip sitter guide.

And see how to help someone having a bad trip on LSD/shrooms.

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