What to Expect on an LSD Trip

Eden Loi

March 2017

Picture yourself in a boat on a river…

You don’t exactly remember how or when you got there, but you know you went willingly.

The skies, suddenly marmalade, gave no warning about their transformation. Millions of sounds come to you sharp and vivid. And there you float, right in the middle of it.

Are you ready to hop into the boat? Maybe it’s your first time, or maybe you are an experienced tripper who wants to get their mind straight before embarking again. In any case, here’s what to expect on your date with Lucy.

The two sides of the tab

Before taking LSD, you should know a couple of things.

The first is to know and understand the nature of a psychedelic. Psychedelics take over your brain, and LSD is a potent psychedelic. There will be some funny business going on inside your skull. You need to be prepared to see, hear, and believe things that you didn’t expect.

Second, despite the psychedelic nature, preventative measures against uncomfortable effects are possible. Taking LSD doesn’t mean you are helpless and completely at the whim of the substance. It shouldn’t frighten you. With a little bit of preparation and awareness, you will significantly improve your chances at a positive, enjoyable trip.

Company

You want to trip with good company. Now, there’s an important distinction to make here: good company doesn’t necessarily mean close friends. There are some close friends of mine that I wouldn’t want to trip with, simply due to the nature of their personality and energy. It doesn’t mean they are horrible people. However, some people possess traits that are more acid-compatible.

If you’re tripping in a group, and are unsure about your compatibility with the other members, you should look for these types of people. From my experience, you want to trip with someone stable, calm, and aware. Those who handle confusion and uncertainty well are usually the best at dealing with LSD.

It’s a big plus if you don’t mind speaking nonsense with them, and even better if you can hold periods of silence with each other. While tripping, there’s a good chance you will find yourself engaged in a captivating conversation, only to realize midway through that you have no clue what you are trying to say.

There is also the option of tripping with a guide or shaman. If it is your first time, you feel very nervous, and a guide or shaman is available, I would recommend it. Just make sure they are experienced and trustworthy. I would avoid tripping in a group without any active “babysitter.” A group of people all on LSD are susceptible to the quick and uncontrolled spread of negative emotions.

“You want to trip with good company… and good company doesn’t necessarily mean close friends.”

Environment

Trip somewhere where you will feel comfortable. Different elements contribute to comfort. Beauty is a big one. Every time I’ve been in an ugly place, it has deeply bothered me. A dirty, unkempt, or uninspired place is more likely to influence your trip negatively. LSD often enhances your perception of things, not just through your senses, but through your emotions and feelings. So somewhere that usually doesn’t bother you much may have a surprisingly strong effect on your emotions while on LSD. Take this into account when you are planning your trip.

Nature is the gold standard. A house where you feel comfortable is good, too. But noisy places, with cars zooming by or lots of people walking around, has a good chance of turning things sour. You may suddenly feel paranoid or agitated by the presence of strangers. Even if you are comfortable with large crowds, the distractions often take away from your ability to meditate upon deeper insights during and after the trip.

Security

Feeling secure is vital when setting up an enjoyable trip.

Your emotions will be volatile and unpredictable. If you don’t know where you are, if you feel unsafe, or if some unwelcome situation from home or work comes up, your confusion and uncertainty will blindside you. LSD can make your emotions tough to manage.

So get your affairs straight before embarking on an LSD trip. Have a plan. Put some thought into it. You don’t need to schedule your activities minute by minute. You won’t stick to a schedule anyways. Just keep yourself away from situations that are unnecessarily stressful or dangerous. In a way, you want to carve out an isolated environment for yourself, untainted by the ongoing stresses of daily life. Finally, turn off your phone.

Other preparations

It is common to lose your appetite for the duration of the LSD trip, which can last up to 12 hours. It’s smart to eat beforehand and to drink water before, during, and after. I’ve found that I start to get hungry during the tail end of the trip, and love to grab a big meal to enjoy while still feeling the effects. Junk food is appalling, smoothies have been disappointing, and Indian food is my reigning favorite.

I also love to trip around a fire, so I always try to trip where open fires are allowed. Camping by the beach is the perfect situation for me. You can have a swim in the ocean, enjoy plenty of open space, and at night, get a clear view of the stars. Just make sure to have enough clothes and blankets if you are going to camp or trip outside during the evening.

Dropping the tab

LSD is taken sublingually, via paper or gel tab. Sometimes it’s dropped on a sugar cube or piece of candy, and other times the pure liquid substance is administered. Whatever the method, LSD is quite tasteless. Paper tabs are my least favorite, because of the taste of ink and the texture of the disintegrating paper.

It’s common to hold to tab under your tongue for a while. People have recommended me keep it down there for as long as an hour. I’ve also tried simply swallowing the tabs without holding them under my tongue at all, and in my experience, it makes little difference.

Onset, duration, and peaks

An LSD trip usually lasts anywhere from 6-12 hours. I always feel a sort of buzz as it comes on, which flows through my clammy hands and tense jaws. The onset comes with a surge of energy and an increase in sensory perception. Still, despite knowing what to look out for when the LSD comes on, you will not be ready. There is an essential moment of surprise when you realize the acid has taken effect. This feeling signals that you have reached your first peak.

Peaks just describe periods during your trip when the effects feel stronger. Hallucinations, hysteria, laughing fits, and other uncontrollable experiences will happen during peaks. In between the peaks you get your moments of deep thought, self-observation, and clarity. An LSD trip is just a long ride up, down, and through these peaks. I wouldn’t worry about trying to distinguish peaks from non-peaks while tripping, though. Peaks and non-peaks are more things you think about after the trip, not during it.

The Effects of LSD

The effects of LSD vary. Your sensory perceptions change in a few different ways. I rarely hallucinate on LSD, but I always see warping images and very vibrant, glowing colors. A feeling of synesthesia, or of sensory inputs mixing with each other, is also likely. For instance, while tripping, I once realized I had been masticating and moving my fingers while watching the sunset. I really could taste and feel the texture in the red, orange, and blue colors of the sky.

There is a very cerebral aspect of an LSD trip, as well. You will think differently, almost as if you have another personality. LSD trips get very deep. But taking acid won’t guarantee that you will gain wisdom. Sometimes, you might only experience the feeling of realization, without truly realizing anything at all. It’s very common to think you are on to some huge breakthrough, only to completely lose it.

However, it’s also common to gain some real insights. During one trip, I started thinking about a personal problem that was bothering me at the time. I realized that I shouldn’t avoid thinking about it and that I could confront this issue while tripping. Before allowing myself to grow too anxious, I pictured the problem as a knot. I thought of all the compounding factors bothering me, and I imagined all the worst case scenarios. The knot grew and tightened. And then, I simply untied the knot and felt at ease. I still use this method in my daily life when I get caught up in anxiety.

There are also challenging, uncomfortable effects of LSD. You might feel paranoid, anxious, or flat out scared. If you can’t outthink these unpleasant emotions, try changing your environment or talking to someone to distract yourself. Another disarmingly simple tactic is to smile.

Though proper preparation helps you avoid these “bad trips,” they can still happen despite the most careful precautions.

Bad Trips

Your feelings of anxiety and discomfort might only increase after trying to stop them. The effects might go even further, and you could totally lose your self-control. I’ve had a trip where I ended up walking the streets shouting nonsense and even got into a shoving match with a group of people. I had no control over myself, and looking back on it, it’s as if someone else took over my body.

People usually call these “bad trips”. Take the steps beforehand to avoid putting yourself or others at harm. If nobody is hurt, these bad trips can be very edifying. They give you a healthy respect for the substance, allow you to appreciate your sanity and self-control, and expand your scope of experience. The best thing you can do if you have a bad trip is to reflect upon and learn from it. Take bad trips seriously, but don’t blame yourself.

Bad trips happen. If you only have fun when you take LSD, you don’t fully understand the substance.

Afterwards

After your LSD trip, you may feel strangely bland. A headache or slight hangover feeling is possible, but this is likely due to a lack of sleep, and unrelated to the actual acid. The “hangover” from taking LSD is more like a readjustment to normality. It’s an opportune time to reflect on your experience and appreciate your sobriety.

Whenever I trip on LSD, I always allow myself an ample amount of time before my next trip. Personally, I wait at least three or four months. I don’t base this timeframe on any rule or law, rather on my specific tolerance and interest in psychedelics. Depending on your clock, I’d only recommend you give yourself enough time to learn from your experience, to get bored again with what people call “normal life,” and to grow open to the full possibilities of this substance called LSD.

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