What to Expect On Your Next LSD Trip
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.
SIDE EFFECTS AND SAFETY OF LSD
Some effects of LSD are benign and even enjoyable. Visual distortions, hallucinations, and altered emotion and cognition are common. Other side effects are less enjoyable, and potentially harmful– an increased heart rate and body temperature, anxiety, nausea, and psychosis are all possible after taking LSD.
Despite how powerful LSD is, much of that power comes from the subjective experience of the trip. In terms of physical toxicity and potential danger, LSD is relatively safe. There have only been a handful of deaths reported from LSD intoxication, and they are usually at doses many, many times higher than normal recreational amounts.
As long as you take measured, responsible doses, have a reliable source, and space out your trips, LSD should have few or no harmful or negative side effects.
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.”
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.
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.
FOOD, DRINK, AND OTHER PREPARATIONS; DO’S AND DONT’S
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.
Finally, some do’s and dont’s to consider when taking LSD:
- Stay hydrated. It’s fine and expected to not eat much after taking LSD, but LSD can raise your body temperature and you may not realize how much you are sweating. It’s never a bad idea to carry some water with you and remind yourself to drink.
- Have supplies. Stay stocked with any snacks, beverages, smokes, or miscellaneous consumables that you might want while using LSD. The substance can make you fidgety and want some ambiguous thing, so don’t leave your future self hanging.
- Drive or operate heavy machinery after taking LSD. Don’t expect to be able to pull this off, and don’t put yourself and others at risk. Even if you drop it immediately and take a quick drive somewhere, you never know how quickly the substance might take effect. A simple trick for how long to wait– since LSD lasts for up to 12 hours, just wait until the next day. You’ll either still be under the effects or will be too tired.
- Communicate with people you don’t want to communicate with while on LSD. This should go without saying, and LSD probably won’t release your inhibitions so much that you’ll start calling your boss. But still, it might be a good idea to put your phone away for a while, or not trip down the block from your work.
- Disappear. It’s fine if you don’t want to advertise your trip, but make sure you either have a sitter with you or someone knows where you are and what you are doing. This is particularly important if you are going out in nature or somewhere new. LSD is a great motivator to break and change plans, which is great during the experience, but may sometimes be dangerous or very inconvenient. Just keep yourself tethered somehow to your life back on earth, give yourself a north star.
- Eat heavy or unhealthy food. You probably won’t want to anyways, but heavy meals can bog you down and the LSD might magnify the physical discomfort from an unhealthy meal.
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 the tab under your tongue for a while. People have recommended I 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. The timeline for an LSD trip can vary depending on dosage amount and the individual. With a stronger dose, some of the physical, buzzing effects that precede the trip can come on quicker and stronger. With a normal dose you may feel completely normal for up to 30-45 minutes after ingesting, but with a stronger dose you might feel the onset within 15 minutes. Usually trips that last long, more than 10 hours, can be linked to higher doses.
Higher doses may also bring on “peaks” quicker, and for a longer period of time. Peaks just describe periods during your trip when the effects feel stronger. These may last anywhere from 10-15 minutes to an hour or longer, though in a peak “minutes” or “hours” may not have much meaning. Hallucinations, hysteria, laughing fits, and other uncontrollable experiences can 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. I rarely hallucinate on LSD, but 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 introspective and insightful. 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.
People who have used LSD likely have at least one experience like my insight about anxieties and knots. Perhaps this phenomenon can be explained by examining how LSD affects the brain. Thanks to recent groundbreaking studies and brain scans, scientists have seen that LSD diverts brain activity away from our “default mode network”, which is associated with memories and our sense of self. At the same time, LSD increases brain activity in other areas that usually don’t see as much brain activity. According to a co-author of a study from Imperial College London examining the effects of LSD on the brain, the altered neural activity leads to “a feeling of being part of something larger and more transcendental” than our everyday self.
The science helps explain why so many people attest to the life-changing effects of LSD. It’s common for a group of people to bond over their personal LSD stories– it’s such a unique experience that few things are as interesting to discuss or explore. People may talk about certain small details they noticed during their trip, for example a single piece of grass or a rock that they end up focusing on for hours in wonder. They might discuss, as I did, some sudden insight that relates to their own life or behaviors, where a simple solution to a longstanding problem suddenly comes to light.
It really would require a radical change to our brains in order to feel and learn what many have from LSD. I don’t know of any other single experience that you could voluntarily undertake with such a high likelihood to change your life.
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.
In fact, your feelings of anxiety and discomfort might only increase after trying to stop them. The effects may go even further, until you lose all 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”. Sharing great trip stories is popular, but it’s probably just as interesting and common to discuss bad trip experiences. These stories can range from small things like trash on the floor or a crowded area becoming increasingly unsettling, to more intense experiences like feeling haunted or oppressed by some sinister energy. Some people experience intense states of paranoia or fear, which can last hours.
To some extent, feeling fear or negative emotions while on LSD is unavoidable. But you can still take steps beforehand to avoid putting yourself or others at harm. If nobody is hurt, these bad trips can sometimes be quite 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.
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.