The importance of educating people on the effects of LSD cannot be overstated, especially information on dosing and resources for handling difficult experiences.
LSD Effects and Dosing
LSD is active at very low doses (around 20 micrograms) and can have very different effects at what are only small differences in amounts and from person to person. Appropriate dosing is important. Individual ¼” squares of LSD on blotter paper (called “tabs”) usually contain roughly between 30-100 micrograms, and a common dosage range is between 50-150 micrograms.
LSD’s effects often do not become noticeable for as long as an hour after taking it, with a gradual intensification over the first 1Can -2 hours. To avoid what may be an overly intense experience from a high dose, the “start low, go slow” method is best for anyone using LSD – especially for people inexperienced with LSD or other psychedelics.
Handling Difficult Experiences
LSD, like other psychedelics, often evokes conscious awareness of subconscious thoughts and feelings, such as repressed memories, feelings about life circumstances, fantasies, or deep fears. Thus, if someone makes the decision to use LSD, it is important for that person to be prepared to deal with unusual – and perhaps even challenging – thoughts, images, and feelings in an open and thoughtful manner. It is also best to use LSD with someone who is not under the influence of the substance (a “guide”) who can prevent them from engaging in dangerous activities.
Predicting what kind of experience a person will have after taking LSD can’t be guaranteed, so experts recommend that people with a personal or family history of mental illness should be aware of their vulnerability to potential latent psychological issues emerging or being triggered.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) sponsors the Zendo Project, which provides support at several live music events and festivals for attendees experiencing psychological distress potentially related to drug use, as well as trainings promoting education around psychedelic harm reduction.
Risk of fatal overdose is nonexistent with LSD, but risky behaviors sometimes occur. Due to the lack of quality control regulations under prohibition, doses are often misrepresented and instead contain other drugs that do come with more physical risks, including fatal overdose.
First and foremost, people who choose to use drugs should know what they’re taking. Expanding access to drug checking will allow for that, which is one of the goals of DPA’s #SaferPartying campaign. In the U.S., organizations like DanceSafe and Bunk Police sell drug checking kits online and at music festivals and concerts when permitted, which allow people to test for possible adulterants.
To reduce accidental deaths related to drug use, improve public health outcomes, care for vulnerable populations, and protect young people, it is important to prioritize education about potential risks, precautionary measures, and reducing harm instead of zero-tolerance policies and criminalization.