What Happens When You Take a Mind-Boggling Amount of LSD

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Microdosing certainly has its appeals: As its vocal devotees will find a way to insert into nearly any conversation, taking a tiny amounts of psychedelics can make you feel euphoric and creative and even more focused, without seeing pulsating patterns in everything. But apparently, macrodosing may have its draws, too.

Last month, the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs published three case reports of women who recreationally took mind-boggling amounts of LSD, and say their acid trips changed their lives for the better. A recent report by CNN detailed two of the cases: a 46-year-old woman who believed she was snorting cocaine, but instead took 550 times the normal recreational dose of LSD in 2015, and a 15-year-old girl who accidentally drank ten times the normal dose of liquid LSD at a Summer Solstice party in 2000.

In the immediate aftermath of the overdoses, the women, as one might predict, didn’t feel great — that is, if they were even conscious at all. The 46-year-old (referred as CB in the text) blacked out and vomited for 12 hours straight, whereas guests at the Summer Solstice party say the 15-year-old (referred to as AV) acted wildly for hours before having what looked liked a seizure. But in the long-term, both women say their acid trips had dramatically positive effect on their overall wellbeing. After being diagnosed with Lyme disease in her 20s, which damaged CB’s foot, she says she dealt with daily “significant pain”; one day after her overdose, she says her foot pain was gone, and she was able to wean herself off of morphine. (She says the pain later returned, but was more manageable.) AV had similar, almost miraculous results: At 15, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and had suffered from depression and hallucinations for years. When she regained consciousness at the hospital following her overdose, she reportedly said, “It’s over,” referring to her disorders. According to the study, she was free from mental illness until she suffered postpartum depression 13 years later.

Experts spoke cautiously about the effects of taking large amounts of LSD, which is an illegal substance in the U.S. Speaking of the aforementioned cases, one neuropharmacologist told CNN, “They don’t really show the benefits of LSD, rather they show that in some people exceptionally high doses don’t lead to enduring harms and may do some good.” Also, as the authors of the study told CNN, “To understand the effects of extremely high dosages of psychedelics such as LSD, an examination of overdoses in naturalistic settings is required.” But these cases do indicate that additional research into psychedelics’ potential therapeutic benefits — which dropped off in the 1960s, when LSD was made illegal, but has picked up in the past decade — is worthwhile.

What Happens When You Take a Mind-Boggling Amount of LSD