Key things to know
Check your LSD with a reagent test to make sure it isn’t the more dangerous NBOMe (which tastes bitter)▼ Using reagent tests
Take a lower amount, especially if you haven’t used it before▼ Safer using
Wait an hour for the effects to kick in and avoid taking more▼ Start low, go slow
Try to have a sober person that can help you if you have a bad trip▼ Tripsitting
Make sure you are in a good mindset and a place you feel comfortable before you use▼ Trip tips
What to expect
How does LSD make you feel?
LSD can change how you think, how you feel and how you understand yourself, the people and the world around you. The intensity of these changes depends on the dose and how you are feeling. It is important to know that it can be difficult to judge how ‘strong’ LSD is just by looking at it.
The effects of LSD can come on from about 20 minutes to just over 1 hour after taking it. These effects can last 6–15 hours, but most people will not have a trip that lasts longer than 12 hours. Remember, a low dose for one person can be a high dose for another as people’s bodies process drugs differently.
A female in her 20s talks about her first experience using LSD:
“At first the trip, the internal scenery of the mind, was pleasant, and we all started feeling giddy. I began to notice people looking at us, imagining their judgement of four students acting strangely. I was torn between succumbing to the trip and retaining the self-awareness that usually made me a functional member of society.”
Having hallucinations (or ‘visuals’)
Changes to your perceptions and senses
Increased heartrate or heart palpitations
Unpleasant changes to the way you think or feel
Increased changes to your perceptions and senses
Changes in how your body feels
Changes to thought patterns
Feeling more open and spiritual
Having pleasant realisations about yourself or the world
Feeling disconnected from yourself and others
Difficulty controlling emotions
Having unpleasant realisations about yourself or the world
Very high dose
Intense spiritual experiences
Intense realisations about yourself or the world
‘Out of body’ experiences
Losing your sense of self (ego death)
Repetitive distressing thoughts
Having panic attacks
Fear of dying or going insane
Violent thoughts or actions
How can you be safer when using LSD?
LSD is a drug that people can easily develop tolerance to, so it can affect everyone differently at different doses. It is always a good idea to think about things you can do to keep yourself safer when using LSD.
Start with a lower dose, especially if you haven't used LSD before.
You can develop a tolerance to LSD, so the more you use, the less effect you will feel from taking the same amount. Different users will have different levels of tolerance, so try not to base how much you take on what the people around you are taking. If you have not used LSD before, consider taking a small amount to start and wait an hour to see how you feel before re-dosing. Visit tripsit for more information on LSD doses.
Have a sober buddy around in case you have a bad trip.
Some people can find the hallucinations and strong emotions from LSD unsettling. LSD can have varied and intense emotional effects on people, so consider having someone you trust with you to be a ‘trip sitter’ or help calm you down if you start to feel unwell or anxious.
Make sure you are in a good mindset before you use.
Some people have very positive experiences on LSD, while other people have bad trips that can affect them even after they come down. Many people who use LSD talk about the importance of being in an environment where you feel calm and comfortable and being with people who make you feel safe. If you are dealing with emotional or stressful things in your life, LSD can sometimes make these feelings very strong. Check your mindset before using LSD. If you are not feeling great or are in a negative frame of mind, think about holding off until you are in a better mental place to have the experience.
Check your LSD to make sure it isn't NBOMe.
LSD is most commonly taken in the form of colourful tabs on blotting paper that are placed under the tongue to dissolve. Pay attention to how your LSD tab tastes if you are taking it this way. Many people use the phrase “if it’s bitter, it’s a spitter”. If the LSD tab tastes bitter or strange, it may be a synthetic drug called NBOMe, which can have much more unpredictable and unpleasant effects. You cannot test LSD with a spectrometer at a drug checking clinic, but you can use an Ehrlich reagent test. This can tell you if your drug has NBOMe in it. In New Zealand, you can buy this test from places like Cosmic and The Hemp Store. Drug checking clinics will also have this test available.
If you are injecting LSD powder, use clean equipment.
Although not as common, powdered LSD is sometimes mixed with water and injected. If you choose to inject, make sure that you use a clean needle and equipment every time and do not share. This will prevent you from getting infections and viruses. Remember that injecting LSD will deliver the drug to your body faster and can make effects stronger and more unpredictable.
For more information on how to be safer when using drugs and alcohol, see Safer using.
To order self-help workbooks and other free resources for safer use, see Resources.
What do comedowns from LSD feel like, and how can you feel better?
If you have only used LSD in low doses, the comedown is usually not very noticeable. If you have used LSD at higher doses or several days in a row, you may experience a more unpleasant comedown.
If you have mixed LSD with alcohol or other drugs, the effects of the comedown may be more unpleasant or unpredictable.
- Feel tired
- Experience low mood
- Have a dry mouth
- Are not feeling hungry
- Experience repetitive distressing thinking patterns
- Feel anxious
- Feel overwhelmed
- Feel nauseous
- Get plenty of rest and sleep.
- Remember to eat and drink plenty of water.
- Get moving to release feel-good brain chemicals.
- Reach out and talk with friends and whānau for support.
- Relax and do things that you enjoy to take your mind off not feeling well.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and other drugs.
- Practise mindfulness and deep breathing, and try writing down your thoughts and feelings.
If any of these symptoms intensify or don't go away then call a doctor or Healthline 0800 611 116. They can talk you through the next steps.
If your symptoms worsen or you are with somebody who:
- Feels panicked or have a panic attack
- Experiences fear of dying or going insane
- Has unpleasant or ongoing hallucinations
- Has intense suicidal thoughts
- Has unpleasant flashbacks
- Experiences psychosis
Call 111. These are signs that something more serious is going on. You or the people around you should act quickly.
A female in her 20s describes her experience of coming down off an LSD trip:
“Eventually, the vivid hallucinations dimmed to sinister shadows. Still, even sleeping pills wouldn’t work. I was so depleted of any ‘feel good’ chemicals that it was impossible to calm my mind. I finally slept, and I woke up feeling triumphant. I wanted to put this awful experience behind me, chalk it up as painful memory at most.”
If you've had too much
What happens if you take too much LSD?
Taking too much LSD is unlikely to kill you, but remember that there is a chance that what you have isn't actually LSD.
You might feel anxious, confused or paranoid; have unpleasant changes in thought patterns, perceptions and senses; have unpleasant changes in your feeling of yourself and your body; have mood swings or nausea.
- Focus on breathing – try taking slow, deep breaths.
- If you are able, call and talk to somebody you trust and ask them to help keep you calm.
- Do not take more LSD, alcohol or other drugs, as these can make you feel worse.
- Move to somewhere quiet – try to sit or lie down and do something relaxing.
- Drink water to stay hydrated.
If your symptoms worsen or don't improve, or you vomit, have severe diarrhea, have an irregular heartbeat, feel intense paranoia, feel panicked or have a panic attack, have difficulty controlling emotions, sweat excessively or feel very hot or very cold or have tremors, call a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116). You won't get in trouble if you tell them you've used drugs. They can talk you through the next steps.
If you have hypothermia or high fever, experience psychosis, have difficulty breathing, have suicidal thoughts, think or act violently, have intense feelings of fear that you are dying or going insane, lose consciousness, have a seizure or attempt suicide. These are signs something is not right. You or the people around you should act quickly. Call 111.
If you experience unexpected or concerning effects from LSD you can notify High Alert to help keep others safe.
A male in his 30s describes what a bad trip on LSD feels like for him:
“A bad trip is like a lucid nightmare, except you know it’s real.”
What are the long-term effects of using LSD?
The risks of using LSD long term are mostly psychological, not physical. Tolerance to LSD develops quickly, meaning that the more often you use it, the more you have to take to feel the same effects. As LSD can be described as an intense experience, most users only take it from time to time, and it is not a drug that people commonly become addicted to. LSD does not often cause overdoses but can lead to emotional and mental changes in perspective that can be upsetting or unsettling for some people, even long after the trip wears off.
One of the main longer-term impacts from using LSD is having ‘acid flashbacks’. The proper term for this experience is hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) and is unique to psychedelic drugs like LSD. After using LSD, you may find that you have times where your perception and senses suddenly become distorted. This might be what you see, feel, hear or taste. You may have visual hallucinations, see halos of light around objects or see flashes of colour. These can last anywhere from a few seconds to several days (or longer in some severe cases). The research isn’t clear on how or why these happen or how common it is to experience HPPD, but it is considered relatively rare. HPPD can be managed with some medicines and with psychological support.
How do you manage withdrawal from LSD?
See the 'Making changes' page for more information on how to Manage withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.
LSD does not commonly cause withdrawal in the same way that other drugs like methamphetamine can. People who stop taking LSD do not often report feeling physical symptoms. However, for people who take LSD often, it can still be challenging mentally to cut down or stop using all together.
- Have cravings to use LSD
- Experience low mood
- Feel anxious
- Feel tired
- Have trouble sleeping
- Have mild or infrequent flashbacks
- Feel unmotivated or flat
- Feel like life is not enjoyable when sober
You can try:
- Consider counselling or support groups if feelings of anxiety and depression are getting worse.
- Lean on a support network of friends, family and professionals.
- Stick to a routine – waking up, eating well, keeping active and rewarding yourself with things that bring you joy.
- Practise mindfulness by writing down your feelings, doing breathing exercises or meditating.
If your symptoms worsen or don't go away, or you experience insomnia, have intense fears of dying or going insane, have longer or more severe flashbacks or have suicidal thoughts, call a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116). You can talk to your doctor about:
- other medicines to get you through withdrawal
- rehab or withdrawal clinics in your area – visit Health Point to see what services are available.
If you have intense or dangerous flashbacks or you attempt suicide, these are signs that something more serious is going on. You or the people around you should act quickly. Call 111.
For more information on getting support for drug and alcohol use, see Finding support.
A user speaks of their experience after a bad LSD trip:
“And I did my best to compartmentalize the horror of my bad trip, and to go about my life like everything was fine. But it was a short-term solution, and it did not stop anxiety creeping back into my life. I was struggling to sleep, ruminating, and I started to feel like I had gone crazy.”
Working and driving
How can LSD affect your daily activities?
LSD can significantly affect the way you see the world and make sense of things around you. Even at lower doses, LSD can still distort your perception of reality and can affect your ability to do everyday tasks. The effects of LSD can last up to 6–15 hours after you have taken a dose. However, if you mix it with alcohol or other drugs, these effects may last longer or be stronger.
LSD causes significant changes to how you process what is in your environment such as what you see and hear, so it is dangerous to operate heavy machinery, drive a car or do tasks that require attention or fine motor skills. As LSD also has effects on your emotions and the way you relate to others, it may become hard to engage in everyday social interactions. Most people who use say it is difficult to go about their normal daily life while high on LSD.
Some people experiment with microdosing LSD to help with mental health conditions like depression. Research shows that, depending on the person, microdosing can impair people to different degrees. Even if the impairment is mild compared to higher doses, it is still important to have a think about how microdoses of LSD might impair your mind and body.
Will LSD show up on a drug test?
Testing if you have taken LSD can be difficult as this drug is often used in quite small amounts. The windows of time in which LSD can be tested for are small and testing is not very reliable. Whether or not it will be detected and for how long can also depend on things like how much you use, how often you use and your individual body. It is thought that LSD can be detected for 1–3 days in urine and 12–24 hours in blood. There is not a lot of research about saliva and hair testing, but it is thought hair testing could detect LSD for up to 90 days. The accuracy of this is still undetermined.
Is LSD illegal?
LSD is classed as an illegal drug in New Zealand under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It is a Class A controlled substance, which means it is illegal to use, buy, sell, make, import or possess LSD. Even though microdosing for medical purposes is done overseas, it is still not legal to possess LSD for this reason in New Zealand.
You can also get in trouble with the law if you are found to be impaired by LSD while driving.
To find out more about the law around legal and controlled drugs, including LSD, see Drugs and the law.