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Microdosing LSD, Origins, Dangers, Risks, Effects on the Brain & Related Mental Illnesses

What Is Microdosing LSD?

In recent years, a new form of substance abuse is becoming increasingly common among stay-at-home moms and CEOs alike: microdosing LSD. Microdosing LSD refers to taking a small fraction of what is considered a recreational dose of LSD or other Hallucinogen (like Psilocybin Mushrooms, also known as Magic Mushrooms).

Microdosing certain Psychedelic drugs can reportedly improve mood, induce physical and mental stimulation, and encourage creative thinking. Emerging studies support the notion that Hallucinogenic drugs, taken in small doses or under the supervision and guidance of a medical professional, can be used to treat mental health issues such as depressionanxiety, and PTSD. However, taking consistent and frequent doses of any drug, especially one as potent as LSD, is by no means safe for all individuals and may put certain people at high risk for developing an addiction.

Given many Hallucinogens’ status as Schedule I drugs, it is difficult to conduct FDA-approved scientific studies. Moreover, most microdosing LSD studies rely on reporting and statistics provided by self-proclaimed “microdosers” who would likely have a positive bias regarding the practice. Consequently, legitimate claims made regarding mental health treatment with Psychedelics remain rare.

Microdosing LSD Origins

Microdosing LSD and other Hallucinogens initially gained popularity among drug users sharing their experiences on the internet. Practitioners used online community forums (such as Reddit) and Psychedelic information sites’ message boards (like Erowid) to boast about the “benefits” of microdosing LSD.

Microdosing LSD
Microdosing LSD: LSD is synthetically made from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. It is so potent its doses tend to be in the microgram (mcg) range.

While both LSD and Magic Mushrooms are illegal on the federal level in the US and many other countries, more and more people are beginning to claim that small amounts make them feel more focused, creative, and productive. Testimonies of individual experiences with microdosing LSD can be found from people of nearly every demographic: young tech industry employees, middle-aged parents with children, and even high-ranking corporate executives from prominent companies.

However, these testimonials don’t come from medical or psychiatric professionals. LSD and other Psychedelics are dangerous and illegal; their use can cause serious medical, social, and legal complications.

The Changing Stigma Of Hallucinogen Use

These claims online, despite having no scientific backing, quickly turned the practice from niche hobby to nationwide phenomenon. Yet, despite the claimed benefits, microdosing LSD remains a form of substance abuse.

Notably, many users reported first trying microdosing LSD as a substitute for Adderall (a Stimulant prescribed to treat ADHD). Adderall is also referred to as a “study drug” or “smart drug” by many college students and young professionals who misuse it, either by taking it without a prescription or by taking it in excessive quantities. Because of the perceived positive effects on work or school performance, many people who don’t consider themselves typical drug users may be attracted to microdosing LSD.

The microdosing LSD trend in Silicon Valley has even been the subject of articles in mainstream and notable media sources including Rolling Stone and Forbes. Catchy titles garner even more attention from the media and readers, describing LSD as “The Hot New Business Trip.”

Microdosing LSD
Microdosing LSD: many users reported first trying microdosing LSD as a substitute for Adderall (a Stimulant prescribed to treat ADHD).

What Is LSD?

LSD is a psychedelic drug that can cause hallucinations, delusions, and drastic behavioral changes. Although the substance is not physically addictive, LSD can cause several long-term health problems, psychological dependence, or death. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), first synthesized in 1938, is a highly potent hallucinogen. 

It is synthetically made from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. It is so potent its doses tend to be in the microgram (mcg) range.  Its effects, often called a “trip,” can be stimulating, pleasurable, and mind-altering or lead to an unpleasant, sometimes terrifying experience called a “bad trip.”

LSD is a powerful synthetic hallucinogen. The psychedelic drug can cause visual hallucinations and change a person’s mood, emotions, and perception. Because it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, LSD is illegal in the United States. 

It can damage the body, alter the mind and cause volatile behavior that threatens the safety of the LSD user and others. Chronic LSD use can cause long-term health problems such as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder. The disorder causes flashbacks to spontaneous visual distortions that may reoccur months to years after quitting using LSD.

An illegal drug with no accepted medical uses in the United States, D-lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, is a hallucinogenic drug that alters perceptions and the senses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) classifies it as one of the most powerful psychedelics, or mood-altering, chemicals that are abused.

LSD Effects

There is no safe level of drug use. The use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug. LSD can affect everyone differently, based on:

  • Size, weight and health
  • Whether the person is used to taking it
  • Whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • The amount taken
  • The strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch).

LSD Effects On Your Brain/Perception

LSD creates powerful hallucinogenic effects. Your senses are heightened during a trip. Everything in your environment may feel amplified. During an acid trip, you may experience the following LSD effects:

  • Brighter colors
  • Changing shapes
  • Trails behind objects
  • Unusual patterns
  • “Noisy” colors

LSD can also amplify your mood. If you take acid when you’re feeling good, you may feel more relaxed, happy, or content. You may also become unusually excited and joyful. If you take acid while you’re upset or angry about something or someone, you may grow more upset or frustrated during the trip. 

Long-Term LSD Effects on the Brain

After the initial effects of LSD begin to subside, the user may suffer from acute anxiety or depression. Many users also experience flashbacks, the recurrences of effects associated with LSD many days or months after taking the last dose. Flashbacks typically follow a short-term, reversible, and benign course. The reemergence of visual images is typically accompanied by pleasant feelings, and there is usually no significant concern, distress, or impairment in the individual experiencing a flashback.

Unlike flashbacks, a condition called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) has a much more sinister effect on LSD users. Although similar to flashbacks in that it occurs well after the cessation of LSD use, HPPD is a dangerous and frightening disorder that follows a long-term and irreversible course. The impairment associated with HPPD can be so severe that many individuals are unable to adapt to living with these long-lasting recurrent “trips,” and many need constant treatment to overcome the pervasive symptoms associated with this condition, more research is needed to determine how likely this case is.

Flashbacks and HPPD are only some of the risks associated with LSD or acid abuse. Users are also at risk of developing long-lasting drug-induced psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. When LSD binds to the 5-HT2A serotonin receptors it produces symptoms that are similar to the hallucinations experienced by people diagnosed with schizophrenia. And the fact that drugs used to treat schizophrenia can block the hallucinogenic effects of LSD further supports a connection between LSD and schizophrenia.

Microdosing LSD
Microdosing LSD: After the initial effects of LSD begin to subside, the user may suffer from acute anxiety or depression. Many users also experience flashbacks, the recurrences of effects associated with LSD many days or months after taking the last dose.

Microdosing LSD And Mental Illness

There is an emerging body of research looking into the possible benefits of Psychedelic drugs in treating mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even addiction to other substances. Last year, 2 studies found that Psilocybin could alleviate symptoms of otherwise treatment-resistant depression. These studies showed no evidence of the side-effects seen with conventional Antidepressants, such as mood swings or apathy.

A similar study of Ayahuasca, an Amazonian plant mixture with Psychedelic qualities, had promising results and could be “a safe and promising treatment” for both depression and alcohol use disorder. Another study specifically examining the effects of microdosing LSD, Psilocybin, and Mescaline found that participants reported heightened levels of creativity, focus, happiness, and productiveness. While long-term results showed a decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms, researchers also found an increase in neuroticism and unpleasant emotions in some participants.

Despite the results of these studies, there is still not enough peer-reviewed and validated research on the topic, making it dangerous for people to try microdosing LSD on their own. Not only is it dangerous to consume any drug without the guidance and supervision of a medical professional, but the potential side effects are ultimately unknown.

Additionally, the practice of mixing substances such as LSD or Psilocybin with Antidepressants can be dangerous and even lethal. There are numerous cases where the combination of Hallucinogens and Antidepressants has resulted in the development of serotonin syndrome and other, potentially fatal health issues. Lithium (a medication used in cases of treatment-resistant depression), in particular, is known to put people into comatose states or induce seizures when taken in combination with LSD.

Dangers Of MicrodosingLSD

There is a common misconception that Hallucinogenic drugs are relatively safe because they’re not as physically addictive as other illicit drugs, such as Benzodiazepines addiction and Opioid addiction. However, while Hallucinogens typically don’t produce severe symptoms of physiological addiction, it is very possible to become psychologically addicted to any drug of abuse. Furthermore, microdosing LSD can induce feelings of euphoria, heightened awareness, and general well-being. The neurotransmitters responsible for creating such a positive association may put certain people at risk of developing a psychological addiction. Fundamentally, addiction is harmful because, as a chronic disease, it will grow and take prevalence over other aspects of one’s life.

Another concern with microdosing LSD is that many of the potential harms and side effects are generally unknown. Many of the aforementioned studies are conducted by systematically tracking the experiences of people who are already microdosing LSD using an anonymous online system. This makes it more difficult to control the substance use of participants and get accurate results. Instead, results rely on the accuracy and honesty of participants’ reports.

Furthermore, some drugs with Hallucinogenic properties pose potential risks when microdosing LSD due to other characteristics that many classic Hallucinogens (such as MDMA) don’t have. MDMA, commonly sold on the street as Ecstasy or Molly, is typically associated with Hallucinogens because it can produce hallucinations when taken in certain quantities. However, most classify Ecstasy as a Stimulant due to its Amphetamine-like effects. Stimulants, including Ecstasy, increase a person’s risk for developing various heart diseases and death. This is due to MDMA’s activation of the 5-HT2B receptor, a serotonin receptor, which is also activated by LSD and Psilocybin Mushrooms.

Reclaim Your Life From LSD Addiction

LSD abuse is a condition that can cause major health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with a professional and safe treatment that can help ease several LSD Effects. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential. You can learn more about LSD here