Okay so there are a thousand and one guides on the internet about psychedelics and the appropriate consumption of them, because they are indeed powerful substances that can really change your life – and should therefore be handled with complete preparation and safety.
I’m sharing my own version here because I often talk about psychedelic experiences on Instagram and people ask me this very question – “I’m thinking of taking acid/other things for the first time, can you give me some guidance?” And I believe it’s one of the biggest responsibilities I have as someone who does social media to do that.
So for now here’s a guide on LSD. I will share guides on plant medicines here in the future, also as I deepen my own personal journey as a psychonaut.
DISCLAIMER: Never do anything illegal in the country in which you are in. Never take substances irresponsibly. I do not promote any sort of illicit activity. My only aim here is to share information and help people be safe.
What is LSD?
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, commonly known as LSD or acid, is a semi-synthetic hallucinogenic substance that has significant effects on perception, cognition, awareness, and is strongly related to what we call in spirituality, ‘the mystical experience.’
The reason it is semi-synthetic is that lysergic acid exists on its own in nature. LSD is synthesized from the lysergic acid taken from ergot, a fungus that grows on rye. It was first discovered by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman in 1943 as a potential treatment for depression.
A Brief History Of LSD
After its discovery, there was a huge wave of research into LSD and its incredible potential for therapy. Psychedelic therapy research actually started way before LSD – the first psychedelic research was conducted in the 20s using mescaline. But LSD in particular was found to have major potential for everything from depression, cancer pain, anxiety, to alcoholism. For example, one of the most prominent researchers in this domain Humphry Osmond found that 40-45% of the alcoholics who were treated with LSD did not return to drinking even after one year.
During the 1950s and 60s, the CIA started an operation under the name of MK-ULTRA in which hundreds of uncontrolled and unscientific experiments were conducted on unsuspecting people – including slipping LSD into their drink without them knowing or even taking consent! They did this because they believed that communist countries were using drugs to brainwash captured Americans during the Cold War. Seeing as they did not have any scientific process in doing this, and their intention was mostly to investigate mind control rather than helping people, it’s of no surprise that this experiment was disastrous. Subjects often ended up having bad trips, were hospitalized, or at the extreme killed themselves. This experiment put a huge roadblock in the face of scientists doing honest and proper research into psychedelics.
Things got especially tricky post 1964 when the Harvard professors Leary, Metzner, and Alpert (who is now known as Ram Dass) started to promote psychedelic substances as methods for “illumination of the human mind” to become free from the Western materialistic view on life. This led to mass protests in the West against existing societal norms and an uprising against the Vietnam War. Hence, LSD moved from being a therapeutic device to being associated with the 1960s counterculture. Not only did this provoke fear in the government establishment, it also led to LSD being used by the common person who had little idea about how to take it. Due to the uncontrolled use of the substance without context, a fair number of people experienced bad trips and in turn LSD got a bad name. This led scientific researchers in this domain to retreat in their efforts.
The United States subsequently made possession of LSD illegal in 1968. Unfortunately, there were no authorities in the World Health Organization at the time on therapeutic application of psychedelics, which led LSD to be put in the same class as opiates – which is utterly wrong from both a chemical and practical perspective. However, research into psychedelic therapy opened up again in the 1980s as the FDA and equivalent institutions showed openness in examining the potential. This led to the opening of several psychedelic research organizations which are in full practice today. As of today, large progress has been made in the domain of LSD-assisted therapy and I wish to publish purely academic literature reviews on current LSD research here as well.
Okay so now we know the deal about what LSD actually is (and hopefully we’ve cleared some misconceptions too), let’s get into the stuff you’re asking me about – what do I need to take into consideration when taking acid for the first time?
First of all, you need to know that what you’re taking IS actually LSD. Unlike other substances like weed, it’s impossible to look at a blotter paper or a vial of liquid and really know what’s inside it. This is why test kits are so important if you are procuring this from an unknown source. Test kits are basically kits you can order online, that you can use to reliably test whether or not what you have is LSD or another compound such as 25i-NBOMe. Other compounds that are often sold under the name of LSD can be incredibly unpleasant.
In addition, you should have a RELIABLE SOURCE for acid and make sure the person giving it to you is a tripper. You never want to score acid from someone who doesn’t take acid themselves. To be on the safe side, as they may just be interested in making money and not actually in giving you good acid.
Let’s get an idea of some good sources:
The Dark Web
So the Dark Web is basically a digital marketplace for anything underground. Be it drugs, weapons, or literally anything illegal you could think of. This might sound a little sketchy – but actually some of the cleanest drugs are available on the Dark Web. What is the reason for this? Well it’s run entirely by a bitcoin economy. And it’s totally anonymous. The people selling on the Dark Web are normally people who PRODUCE substances in a lab and therefore if you have the right sellers, the goods are going to be extremely clean. The system runs on community feedback and hence it’s easy to identify sellers with genuine products. Although – I know nothing about this, and I would never order by myself here.
Point of caution: There is still a degree of risk if you use something like the Dark Web. So a better option is to find someone who already orders off the Dark Web and place an order with them. Make sure it’s someone who actually gets it for themselves and knows where it came from. Make sure they know what the purity level and the dosage is, and that they actually know what they are doing. Clean acid from the Dark Web mostly comes from Europe. For example places like Switzerland or Scandinavia where the acid is super clean. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to USE A TEST KIT even if you are ordering from the Dark Web.
So the obvious follow up from this is just score from regular trippers. Now it may not be the case that their acid is from the Dark Web, but if they are regularly tripping and have experience of the blot in question, it’s a good sign. No matter who you are scoring from, you need to ask them basic questions like how many MICROGRAMS – because dosage is everything. Don’t settle for someone who will tell you “Oh it’s just one hit.” One hit could be 100 micrograms. It could be 300 – and that’s a world of a difference. And you want to be scientific. They should know which country the acid came from, they should know how pure it is, and importantly they should have taken it before. If someone is a proper tripper, they will know whether the acid is clean or not. Never buy acid from an amateur or a show off who just has it randomly. If you have an off feeling about something – just don’t move forward with it.
It seems a bit preposterous that actually you can score some of the cleanest drugs from music festivals. I mean, it’s just a breeding ground for dealers who want to sell anything and everything to people who want to get fucked up, right? Well that entirely depends what festival you are at. If you are at a psytrance festival in particular, you are likely to find good acid. The best is to ask people who are already tripping who seem like they have their head on their shoulders and can have a sensible conversation and know the dosage. People at festivals tend to have acid if it’s a psychedelic festival.
Also if it’s a big festival, people tend to go there with good drugs to sell so they can make money. So yes you can find a lot of bad drugs but generally the type of people just doing acid are not junkies and will understand the intensity of the experience. However, saying this, safely tripping for the first time in a music festival really depends on the type of festival. Personally I would always do acid for the first time in nature or a peaceful surrounding where you have more control over things like music and location. With a couple of trusted people around rather than a large crowd which can be overwhelming if you don’t vibe with it. On the other hand, if you DO vibe with the place you are in and the people are good, it can be the most incredible thing ever. For example I’ve taken high doses in Boom Festival in Portugal and was essentially on my own with strangers but one of the trips I had there was surely one of the most intense and beautiful trips of my life.
A threshold dose of LSD is considered to be 20 micrograms, which is the dosage at which there are noticed effects. Though there are small changes in these definitions across different references, 25-75 micrograms is considered a light dose, 75-150 is a common dose, 150-300 is a strong dose, and 300 micrograms + is a heavy dose. Estimates of lethal doses of LSD are higher than 10,000 micrograms – however even at 150 micrograms people can experience bad trips if they are not in the right internal and external environment. I don’t know people who have taken more than 500 micrograms of acid and this is most certainly NOT recommended for someone taking acid for the first time.
So how much should you take? Well this depends entirely on your purpose with the substance, and how you feel inside.
Let’s start with microdosing. A microdose is basically a sub-perceptual dose in which there are no noticeable distortions in perception. This means no melting walls and no breathing skies. Actually, it’s very similar to normal reality but your mind is clearer and your brain has better interconnectivity, which improves productivity and creative thought processes. Hence the massive upsurge of microdosing in Silicon Valley in recent years. A standard microdose is considered to be 25-30 micrograms (I tend to take 50 but that’s through personal experimentation). I will write a full guide to microdosing in a separate article.
For a full trip, 150 micrograms is a good starting point. I tend to take between 200-300 for a full trip. Though I have to admit, I haven’t always been able to measure the EXACT or even the good approximate of the microgram dosage I’m taking. But I tend to have a general idea and my acid is always super clean. Furthermore, I am comfortable with the substance and super careful about the environment and who is around me. So for ME, my approach works. But in all cautiousness, it’s best to make sure you have a good approximate of the micrograms and not end up taking too much by mistake.
One thing to be careful about is redosing. After you take a dose, you might feel after an hour nothing is happening. This may lead you to taking another dose. Note that acid isn’t a linear experience. It’s difficult to say that if you have the same amount of what you took initially the second time around, you will have double the intensity of the experience. Absolutely not – it might just blast you into something much more powerful. Which can be a good thing, but then this might be too intense for you. So if you are taking acid for the first time it’s best to stick to the lower end of a redose so that you’re not too overwhelmed with an unexpectedly large amount. LSD takes 30-90 minutes to take effect so if you redose, both doses will hit you at the same time at some point. Once you gain some familiarity with the substance, you could experiment with different dosages. Generally speaking, the real kind of deep psychological benefits of the substance happen at higher dosages. But then the risks increase too if you are not in the right setting. To start with, I would say – don’t redose.
You have probably heard of the term, “set, set and setting” in relation to consumption of psychedelic substances. One of these relates to your psychological set – or your mindset. At the very basic level, the mental and emotional state you are in when you take LSD can determine how the trip goes. For example, if you are in a beautiful environment with super clean vibes and you’re feeling great about life, that is likely to be amplified by 100 times in the trip. On the other hand, if you have repressed emotions that you’ve avoided for a while they can crop up in the trip and it can be an unpleasant experience.
Having said this, even if you ARE in the perfect mood and place before you trip, you might still have a difficult experience during the trip. The reason for this is that psychedelics, in particular at high doses, can bring up issues and emotions that you need to confront and heal from your subconscious mind. This is nothing to be scared of – in fact this is where the real benefits of taking psychedelics generally occur. When you’re not just purely recreational in your approach, but you’re also going deep inside yourself and your human experience.
Nevertheless, if there are some serious emotional issues you are dealing with then it may not be a good idea to trip on a heavy dose. On the other hand, taking a trip in the right environmental setting and context can actually CURE these issues – for example depression or anxiety, getting over a break, and even a strong addiction. This is now thoroughly BACKED by scientific research. I cannot make generalized statements because psychedelics are such an individual thing – and it really depends on so many factors like who is guiding you in the trip, how mentally strong you are, what you’re setting is etc. Personally, if the context for taking psychedelics is right, it’s actually always an incredibly mind-blowing experience – even if it’s difficult, I view it as fundamentally necessary for my personal growth.
However, if you suffer from a major psychological illness (not depression), but say bipolar or schizophrenia, you should DEFINITELY NOT experiment with psychedelics. The reason for this lies in the effect that psychedelics have on the Default Mode Network in the brain.
So unless you have a major mental health issue like that, as long as you prepare properly and do it in the right way then it’s going to be very useful. People have overcome some serious problems through the use of psychedelics, like clinical depression, lack of focus in life, feeling lost, serious addictions – and the list just goes on and on. LSD is just the beginning, and in it’s own right, the potential to be an incredibly powerful healer.
When you are microdosing, I don’t think the environmental setting matters that much at all. You can be in any situation or setting and all the acid is going to do is make you more open to the energies in that area and it’s just a more beautiful and connected state of mind over regular consciousness. It’s perfectly safe to microdose at the workplace, at home, in a café, or a social gathering.
However, even with microdosing, it’s good to have an intention in mind and a plan for the day that is favorable to. This is because, in the event you end up taking a little more than you thought you were or the acid hits a little too strong, you have some flexibility to do what you please. For example, sometimes I’ve ended up taking double of a microdose (not entirely by mistake), walking around in a city or wherever, and it’s always been on a day that I don’t have a bunch of externally enforced events or meetings so I can just trip if I want. Furthermore, I like to have the day to myself so I can really go into the things I want to whilst on a dose – like doing a two-hour yoga routine, making revolutionary changes in how my laptop functions, and whatever other activities that might come up. And in fact I think it’s on these marginally higher doses in daily life that I can really get into a flow state and make transformational changes in my workflow and life. I will write a full guide on microdosing LSD in an eBook.
When taking high doses, however, the environmental setting plays a HUGE role in affecting how your trip goes. I am very careful about where I take psychedelics and definitely do NOT take large doses in environments where I am even mildly uncomfortable. Different settings will give you entirely different experiences – for example taking a full hit of acid in the middle of the Himalayas without any sort of music or crowd around you is an entirely different experience to taking a full hit of acid in a music festival with a group of friends.
A definite NO for taking LSD for the first time is in a crowded party environment where people are getting drunk, doing hard drugs like cocaine, and acting rowdy. This is simply a breeding ground for dark energy and can lead to a highly uncomfortable LSD experience. LSD blows you wide open, so unless you have a strong mind you may flip out in this type of environment. A misconception that many people have is that LSD is a party drug. No, it is not – it really depends on the party or the festival – whether or not it’s a psychedelic-friendly environment. LSD is like the opposite of getting drunk. When you get drunk you are completely delusional and do things you regret. When you are on acid, it’s basically an altered state of consciousness. NOT unconsciousness, which is what alcohol does. And the two are completely contradictory – so being around drunk people when you’re tripping on acid can be hugely uncomfortable (although I have faced exceptions).
Similarly, you don’t want to be in an environment where there are factors beyond your control that make you uncomfortable. A huge factor is music. If you are with a group of people or in a space where you don’t really like the music, then it’s not a good idea to trip. Relatedly, being on acid can open your perception to music that you may already be listening to, or music you have never listened to before, and make you see it in a completely different light. For example, my understanding of most of the psychedelic rock music I used to listen to changed entirely after taking psychedelics. However, listening to commercial EDM music and doing acid is just a straight up bad idea.
Lastly, don’t be an environment where there are people you are uncomfortable with. You need to be around people that have experience with psychedelics and who genuinely care for you. Being with the wrong kinds of people can totally ruin your trip. I had a friend from school who I was close to for over 9 years but never in a million years would I take acid with her because we weren’t on the same spiritual level. Even in normal life I could feel negativity from this person and her passive jealously, and lack of actual concern for who I was inside. You want people around you that understand you when you talk to, that you feel 100% safe and comfortable with, and who can take care of you if needed. Do not be with people who might abandon you, or might say things that flip you out. So no it’s not a good idea to do acid with your toxic ex.
On the positive side, there are certain human environments which are ideal for tripping. A primary one is proper psychedelic music festivals (I mean large-scale ones for example in Europe where laws are relaxed, the crowd is good, and there is high quality health and safety. Boom Festival, easily one of the best experiences of my entire life, even had a drug-testing counter where you could go and get your drugs tested and they would let you know whether or not they were clean to take safely.) Large-scale psytrance festivals have multiple stages from full-on to chill-out, and also healing areas where you can attend meditation and yoga workshops, and N number of things you haven’t even heard about before. Most will have a psychedelic art gallery you can trip on as well. I wouldn’t recommend tripping in any music festival alone unless you have found some trusted people – however for me, I literally just pop acid and walk around, meet amazing people, share good vibes, and trip – with zero problems whatsoever. Only if the vibe is right.
Lastly, tripping in nature can be one of the most profound experiences ever. Even if I am in a contained environment like a festival, when I am tripping heavily I always end up wandering off somewhere and seeking something natural. Many psytrance festivals are set in natural environments. However, being purely in nature is a truly magical experience. Just make sure you have things on hand that you need like water, and maybe some speakers to play music you like. Music can really help direct a trip. And never just trip alone in nature unless you know what you’re doing and it’s not a super heavy dose. It’s good to have someone around that can take care of you and make sure you’re not getting lost or losing it.
The people who you trip with are very important. It’s never a good idea to trip with random people who you just met, and whom you don’t really know well. UNLESS – you can really feel the vibe, it’s a deep connection, and you know in your heart it’s going to go well. I think the majority of my trips have been with short-term connections but then I tend to connect with people on a very high level in certain environments which means it’s often better than tripping with people that I may have known for ages.
It’s never a good idea to trip with people who give you any sort of bad vibe, even if you’ve known them for years. For example, anyone who subtly puts you down, who doesn’t actually get you properly, with whom you have too much difference of thought, or is not really on your wavelength. Don’t trip with utter junkies who may seem like experienced trippers but have no value for the psychedelic experience and this will be obvious in the way in which they talk about it. Psychedelics are deep and you want to trip with someone who really understands and respects the substance, even if they haven’t tripped before.
The qualities that you would look for in a good trip companion are as follows.
- Someone who you can share your thoughts with openly. You might experience several crazy things when you’re tripping and you need to be with someone who you can express everything to without fear of judgement
- Someone who resonates positive energy. This is kind of subjective, but you should be able to feel the clear difference in being around someone who pulls your energy down and someone who uplifts you and makes you happy. Even if you think other people are cool or you like them in some way, steer clearly away from anything dark or less than super positive.”
- It’s a good idea to trip with someone who has tripped before. They can understand the psychedelic experience may even guide you through potentially difficult parts of your trip. Having people around who have a therapist sort of nature can be incredibly healing. People often take psychedelics on purpose with a guide so they can work through difficult issues whilst on their journey.
- Trip with people who resonate your music sense to a large extent. It can be super difficult if you are tripping with people who are playing music you don’t like. Imagine how you would feel in normal life – and the imagine that on a scale of 500. Whilst alcohol dulls you down and can mean you enjoy music you usually hate, acid is deep. In fact, taking acid can even change your taste in music as you start to open your mind to more complex musical forms and things that connect you to the source, and the experience. I feel terrible for those people who take acid randomly without thought at parties and listen to commercial music, that’s like the worst nightmare for me.
- Basically, just good people. The strongest acid experience I’ve ever had in my life was only a few months ago somewhere in a secluded beach area in Thailand with a group of people from my island hippie community, people I had just met a few days before but had a strong connect with. I’ve never really had a bad trip – indeed I’ve had difficult experiences but I’ve worked through them, also by myself very well. This time was different. For hours I thought I was going to die, I was rolling around in the sand confused, and I had these two trusted people talking to me and looking after me for which I am eternally grateful and looking back I knew that whole thing was meant to happen. At a certain point I told him, dude I think my ego is dying. And then I kind of understood the situation and let go into things that were happening around me, let go completely, and transitioned to the other side. It was the most fucking beautiful thing, one of the most enlightening and powerful experiences I’ve ever had. This was because the people were actually good-hearted, genuine, and spiritually inclined. (Well, the people I meet in that small island home are the best in the world). It makes all the difference.
Purpose and Intention
As with anything in life, and even more so with psychedelics, the purpose and intention that you bring to the table matter a lot in how your trip will go.
Are you taking the substance lightly and just trying to have a cool experience in a party with some flashing lights? Are you trying to heal your depression? Are you aiming to expand beyond the constraints of the mind and journey deep into the subconscious?
Having your purpose and intention clear before you enter a trip can really determine it’s course. There’s a huge difference between randomly popping acid with a group of unknowns for the sake of it, and purposely dedicating a full day or a few days to go out into nature, let go fully into the psychedelic world with some trusted friends, and come back with a new sense of life. Although you can’t control your trip, intentions matter a lot. And this is very true when working with plant medicines as well because with plants, you’re actually working with spirit. And with LSD, I feel you have a lot of scope to navigate your trip.
So, write down your intentions. Why do you want to do this? What is it that you want to heal? And then plan out your trip accordingly. Then you have the least chances of something going wrong.
Addiction and Frequency
LSD is not considered to be an addictive substance. There is no evidence that LSD has any sort of addictive potential. It has no associated physical cravings. Abuse of the drug can occur if the user is not taking LSD with the right intentions, and is, for example, using it to escape reality continuously instead of appreciating the experience and integrating it back into normal life. This relates to the mindset of the user (or the abuser), and not the substance. This is why it is extremely important to assess whether the user has some underlying conflicting problems before taking psychedelics.
Conversely, the class of psychedelics are used in therapeutic settings to cure individuals of addiction, including alcohol, smoking and even heroin addiction. LSD does not result in compulsive use or drug-seeking violent behaviors like for example with cocaine. If you have taken a full dose of LSD, the experience is so intense you just cannot. It makes you appreciative of life and the truth behind the illusion. In most cases, psychedelics tend to lead you to the understanding of self-love and universal oneness that help you shed negative habits. However, some people may need thorough guidance in working with these substances as they may not be able to do so on their own.
After a full LSD trip, some people may have a mild “come-down.” Depending on the setting in which the trip was taken, they may feel tired or low emotionally as the trip has come to an end. This is particularly the case if you have taken LSD at a festival and have been dancing for hours and then the physical and emotional tiredness will hit afterwards. However, if used wisely LSD involves something called an after-glow. In the few days after tripping on acid, you will feel that your normal perception remains heightened, you are in general more connected and your mind is clearer. These are the same effects that you can achieve with a microdose in daily life.
So what constitutes a normal usage of LSD? I tend to go by feeling. It may be months before I feel like tripping again, it may be a week. I think the key thing is to have a strong purpose and intention going into a trip so that you’re not just taking it randomly. Even so I would not suggest tripping more than once a month. If you are microdosing you should be taking it every four days, and then stop after a month or two of experimentation so you can integrate the changes. Ultimately, LSD is a tool. It’s not a life-long support crutch. And if used correctly it should lead you towards a better version of yourself – and if it doesn’t maybe you need to reassess how you’re approaching it.
There is a lot more to talk about this, and a lot more information that I could add. I will keep adding things as I go along. Remember to never take psychedelics for the first time without proper in person guidance, and remember to keep yourself self in all your psychonautic adventures. And remember that LSD is only one of the many psychedelic substances on earth, and there is a whole world of plant medicines that have come about only to heal human existence. So keep exploring – the answer is waiting for you on the other end.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me through email firstname.lastname@example.org.