LSD is a powerful hallucinogen with short and long term effects. It's possible to have a “bad trip” where the experience is negative and traumatic. There are things you can do if you or someone else has a bad trip as well as other issues to consider when taking LSD. The most important thing to remember is to seek help if you, or someone you know, needs more information or support.

This can help with:

  • Information about LSD
  • Making decisions about LSD
  • Knowing the effects of LSD
  • Knowing what to do when a trip goes bad
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What's LSD and what does it do?

LSD is a chemical that comes from a fungus. It's a white powder, but often comes soaked up on blotter paper, on sugar cubes or in little gelatin balls (microdots). LSD is a very powerful hallucinogen that changes your perception of reality.

Drugs will always affect people differently. LSD can make people experience sights, sounds and feelings that aren't there. Someone who's taken LSD might:

  • See colours or patterns, or hear sounds (hallucinations)
  • Have an increased heart rate, breathing rate, and higher blood pressure
  • Feel as though their senses are mixing together
  • Feel good and relaxed
  • Feel scared, anxious and paranoid
  • Experience big mood swings
  • Get twitchy, numb or have seizures
  • Feel ill and vomit

The effects of LSD last a long time. Hallucinations normally come on within an hour of taking LSD, and they can last up to 24 hours.

There aren't many long-term effects of taking LSD (or other hallucinogens) that we know about. One danger is flashbacks, where the effect of the drug can come back on many months or years later. Even though it only lasts a minute or two, it's pretty scary. These 'flashbacks' can be triggered by stress, other drug use, or exercise.

Bad Trips

Sometimes an LSD 'trip' can be overwhelmingly negative and frightening. People call this a 'bad trip'. Some things that can cause a bad trip are:

  • Not being in a comfortable, safe place while tripping.
  • Being scared and trying to stop the effect of the drug.
  • Remembering traumatic experiences.
  • An unexpectedly high dose

If you or someone you're with is having a bad trip, do the following:

  • Put light, familiar music on, or change the setting in some other way (go outside, or to another room).
  • Reassure the person (or yourself) that it'll be okay.
  • Tell them the time regularly – it'll help keep them anchored in reality.
  • Have them relax and breathe deeply – fighting it often makes it worse.
  • Don't leave them alone, but don't crowd them

Staying safe

 If you or someone you know is going to take LSD, there are things you can do to stay as safe as possible. They are:

  • Don't take LSD alone, and have a sober person to “supervise”. This way they won't let you injure yourself say, trying to fly.
  • Don't drive. Just don't.
  • Only take a very small amount. LSD is very potent, and doesn't peak until a couple of hours after you take it. Higher doses will increase negative effects.
  • Be ready to reassure and take care of your friends if they have a bad trip. If you think someone’s safety is at risk, call an ambulance.


Other reasons people run into trouble with LSD include:

  • Not being prepared for the strength/length of the trip. Remember that LSD can last up to 24 hours.
  • Injuring themselves by trying to fly, staring at the sun too long or otherwise misjudging their powers.
  • Driving – taking LSD and driving is a terrible idea.
  • Legal problems – LSD is illegal all over Australia.
  • Mental health. LSD can trigger the onset of or worsen mental health issues like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. 

Getting help

To get help with LSD or other drug issues, check out the Australian Drugs Information Network.

What can I do now?

  • In an emergency, call 000.
  • Don’t be pressured by friends into doing drugs.
  • Don’t mix with other drugs or alcohol.
Last reviewed: 07 August, 2015
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