With LSD making a cultural and scientific comeback, a guide to using LSD is needed to help steer first-timers in the right direction. Many people are yearning to experience the mind-altering effects of this elusive yet celebrated drug that has garnered an eclectic mix of fans from the likes of Michel Foucault to Steve Jobs.
LSD, also known as acid, stands for lysergic acid diethylamide. First synthesized in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, it has since gone on to make a lasting cultural impact, playing a crucial role in the counterculture of the 60’s and 70’s and showing immense promise for psychiatric applications.
LSD gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation… I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.
Read our guide to using LSD to get prepped for your first acid trip:
Basic LSD Terms to Know
Microgram (μg): Commonly abbreviated as “mics”, this is the unit of measurement for LSD. Many consider a “full dose” to be 250 μg, as that was the dose taken by Albert Hoffman the very first time LSD he used acid. With that said, LSD is known to begin showing effects at 20 μg.
Set and setting: Coined by psychedelics advocate Timothy Leary, this term is a mantra to help guide responsible and fun trips. “Set” refers to one’s mental state during a trip and “setting” refers to physical variables such as social groups and location.
Trip sitter: Most often used in psychedelic settings, this term refers to a designated sober individual whose purpose is to guide, assist and accompany a person or group that is tripping.
Come up/come down: The “come up” refers to the period before the peak where the effects of LSD start to build. This buildup can induce physical reactions including some nausea. The “come down” refers to the period after the peak and does not have as much of a toll on the body as effects begin to slowly wear down.
Microdosing: Microdosing is an increasingly popular method for using psychedelics. Extremely low doses of around 20 μg can be taken to avoid the usual whole-body effects of LSD while still experiencing benefits like heightened creativity and empathy. Learn more about microdosing here.
Entheogen: An entheogen is any drug that induces mental or emotional alterations as well as changes in behavior in order to facilitate spiritual development.
Tips for the Process
Most people will receive their LSD in blotter paper. Every 1-centimeter by 1-centimeter piece of blotter paper typically contains anywhere from 150 μg to 250 μg of LSD.
Before embarking on your acid trip, I suggest eating a small meal and waiting at least an hour. This is because you will likely not want to eat during the trip and having a heavy meal beforehand may also result in increased nausea or dampened effects. Aside from this, the process of dropping acid is super easy:
Get in the right set and setting. This may mean getting some close friends together for a lazy day at home binging trippy movies or going for a calm walk around the neighbourhood—it’s different for every individual!
Make sure you know how many μg of LSD each square has. If you are dropping acid for the first time, I recommend trying a 100 μg dose first to get an experience of a range of its effects but at a less intense level (lower doses may not provide the same audiovisual effects). You can cut up the squares to get the right dose.
Place the paper underneath your tongue and wait. Give it a good 10 to 15 minutes, and when the paper is nice and mushy, swallow. It is normal for it to have a very slight bitter taste.
Let the magic happen!
The effects of LSD will typically begin within half an hour. There will be a come up period, a peak and then a come down, each lasting around at least a couple of hours, depending on dose. The complete trip can last anywhere from 10 to 20 hours, although 12 hours seems to be a normal trip duration for 100 to 250 μg. Because of the length of an acid trip, I recommend you have a full day set aside.
LSD is also very sensitive to tolerance. Generally, you should wait at least two weeks if you want to take the same dose again. If you don’t wait at least two weeks, you will need to take an exponentially larger dose in order to feel the same effects.
What to Expect with LSD
The external world became changed as in a dream. Objects appeared to gain in relief; they assumed unusual dimensions; and colors became more glowing. Even self-perception and the sense of time were changed. When the eyes were closed, colored pictures flashed past in a quickly changing kaleidoscope.
LSD is kind of a miracle. There’s a reason they call it a trip—it really feels like you’ve stepped into a different world—after all, it is considered a hallucinogen and entheogen, and it also binds to dopamine and serotonin receptors. All of this combined means you will experience a number of intense effects that may facilitate emotional, mental or spiritual growth.
Here is a breakdown of possible effects:
Visual and/or auditory hallucinations
Increased blood pressure
Increased sensitivity to body temperature (feeling colder or warmer than usual)
Reduced appetite or aversion to food
Clenched or tensed muscles (sporadic and not constant, more prominent during the come up)
Afterglow (a general sense of euphoria during the trip and then heightened moods for one or more days after)
Notes for Safety
Throughout your trip, you may encounter some physical discomfort as outlined above. These are come with the territory—don’t worry, you’re not dying! It’s important to stay calm, go with the flow and trust the process. Remember to also stay hydrated as LSD can lead you to exert huge amounts of energy without the usual levels of fatigue and thirst.
Furthermore, the come up and peak can be especially disorienting for first timers, and so I recommend staying away from hazardous and unfamiliar locations.
As with all drug use, adverse psychological reactions are possible, which is why set and setting are so important, as well as having a trip sitter for at least your first time. If you feel a bad trip coming on, retire to a safe and comfortable location, relax and meditate and stay close to a trusted person.
Astronauts cannot remain in space nor LSD experimenters in transcendental spheres, they have to return to earth and everyday reality, where the newly acquired experiences must be evaluated.
How should one wrap up an acid trip? Albert Hofmann and other key LSD figures like Alexander Shulgin were meticulous documenters, keeping extensive trip journals. These individuals clearly sought after LSD experiences as a way to understand their own minds, but that might not be everyone’s jam.
If you just want to see trippy visuals and have fun, that’s okay too! It’s always helpful to understand why you want to trip before going into it. Acid trips last a long time and your mind can really wander. If you keep your goals front and centre, it’s less likely you’ll fall into a bad trip.
LSD can be a great time and provide great outcomes. What is the one thing you love most about LSD? Share your thoughts with the community in the comments below!