There is a large controversy over whether you can overdose on LSD or not. Unfortunately, you can in fact overdose on it, but overdose does not usually cause death like many other drugs. Taking enough LSD is very dangerous. In order to understand the dangers of an LSD overdose, you have to understand what LSD, what the symptoms are, and what happens during an overdose.
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What is LSD?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, LSD is a product the ergot fungus found on rye or rye bread. The ergot fungus is actually responsible for many of the apparent demon possessions in the middle ages and a variety of other illnesses throughout history.
LSD was invented when a group of scientists were looking for a respiratory and cardiac stimulant in the late 1930s. They synthesized the compound d-lysergic acid diethylamide. It was not until 1943 that they realized what LSD could do. One of the scientists accidently got some on his hands while working with the compound. About an hour later, he went home sick describing colors and sensations that were out of the ordinary.
Another scientist tested the reactions by taking a large amount of LSD. What he experienced was similar, except when it started to turn bad, a doctor was able to talk him into a better mood by reassuring him nothing was wrong. They called this experience “Bicycle Day.” This doctor was named Albert Hoffman. The first time he used LSD he took over 10 times what has become the normal amount.
Side Effects of LSD Use
Like all drugs LSD has side effects. Although none of these side effects are dangerous, they do occasionally contribute to overdose. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, side effects are:
- Impaired time perception,
- Impaired depth perception,
- Back ache,
- Clenched and achy muscles,
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure,
- Loss of appetite,
- Dry mouth, and
Although at mild doses these side effects are harmless, in large doses they can become extreme as can the hallucinations associated with LSD. These extreme hallucinations may be unpleasant but they are not normally long lasting. The average LSD trip does not last more than 12 hours and peaks after about six.
What Happens in an LSD Overdose?
It is important to differentiate between an overdose and a bad trip. Taking too much or having physical reaction is an overdose. A bad trip is a psychological effect that is caused by environment or thought patterns during an LSD trip.
Of the people known to overdose on LSD, none have died specifically from LSD overdose. A few reported cases of ingesting large amounts of LSD suffered from vomiting, bleeding, nausea, and fever. All of these survived with no additional complications. Most people who are on LSD who die, do so because of either risky behaviors or through the use of another drug.
Some people take risks while on LSD because it causes people to lose their inhibitions. It also skews their perceptions and gives people a sense of immortality. Some people who have been killed while on LSD are because of car accidents, not paying attention, and falling.
It is a popular misconception that LSD drives people crazy. Although it does sometimes cause Hallucinating Persisting Perceptive Disorder, there is no recorded incidences of it causing insanity. The only condition aside from HPPD that persists after taking LSD is flashbacks.
Flashbacks are reoccurring portions of the LSD trip. Most people attribute flashbacks to the fact that LSD never completely leaves the body. It stays in the spinal column. Some people believe that small amounts are either in the brain to begin with or travel to the brain and cause the flashback.
Who is likely to Overdose on LSD?
Of those who take LSD, a few are likely candidates for overdose. Some of these are:
- People who tend to use more drugs than are necessary,
- People who mix drugs and alcohol,
- People who are risk takers, and
- People suffering from a previous mental illness.
Fortunately, in the case of LSD overdose does not normally have lasting effects unless they are taking it with other drugs.
Mixing drugs is never a good idea. In the case of LSD, scientists do not know how exactly it works. They also do not know how it interacts with other drugs and alcohol. There are some reports of LSD heightening the effects of other drugs. This is why it is also not wise to take LSD if you are on prescription medication.
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Getting Help for an Overdose
If you or someone you know, overdoses on LSD there are a few things that you can do. The first is to get to a hospital. Unfortunately, like many hallucinogens, there is not much a doctor can do medically aside from monitor and treat any adverse reactions. They can however, give you or an overdose victim a safe place to be. A calming atmosphere and reassurance are usually all people who are overdosing on LSD need. This safe environment it is possible to overcome the affects of overdose.
The United States recently legalized LSD for study in treating cluster headaches, mood disorders, and chronic pain. As research continues, it is possible that these disorders will eventually be treated with LSD and therapy. This is continuing the research that was started in the 1940s when scientists used hallucinogens and guided therapy to treat certain mental disorders.