Risks of Mixing LSD with Alcohol and Other Substances
Non-medicinal, recreational drug use has always been a subject of great controversy and public concern due to the strong effects of many drugs on the human body over time. Psychoactive drugs in particular can have extreme effects on the health and well-being of the user, and their hallucinogenic nature makes them especially risky for those who are prone to addiction. LSD is no exception, and even though its use has somewhat declined in the last couple of decades, it continues to be illegally sold and used recreationally by many people.
Furthermore, in an attempt to enhance their high experience (or even sometimes to give the illusion of control over their drug use), LSD users have also turned to mixing it with other substances such as alcohol and various other drugs, for example mixing LSD and MDMA (candy flip) or LSD and alcohol. This kind of drug mixing is never recommended and can lead to serious problems either during or after their presence in your body’s systems.
What Is LSD?
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a psychoactive drug that is very long-lasting, sometimes affecting one’s perception for up to 12 hours. The drug was derived from a naturally occurring fungus and has been around since the 1930s. Also known as acid, zen, yellow sunshine, California sunshine, and dozens of other street names, LSD is classified as a Schedule I drug in the U.S. due to its great potential for being misused and has been (and remains) illegal in the U.S. and other countries for decades. It’s notable that there is currently no accepted medical treatment use for LSD in the medical community.
LSD is not known to have a fatal dosage, but its mind-altering effects can lead to dangerous situations and lack of judgment that may cause serious or fatal harm to a person. The high potency of LSD can be seen in the fact that it is usually measured in micrograms.
There are, of course, other hallucinogenic drugs as well, such as:
- Ecstasy (also known as “MDMA”)
- Psilocybin (also known as “magic mushrooms”)
- Mescaline(also known as “cactus”)
- Salvia divinorum (also simply termed “salvia”)
- Phencyclidine (also known as “angel dust” or “PCP”)
Mixing any two or more of these hallucinogenic drugs can compound their already-extreme effects and lead to a higher risk of drug addiction and physical harm from “bad trips.”
While not technically addictive, LSD presents the problem of potential tolerance over time, which can lead an LSD user further down the road toward using more and more of it to achieve the experience they are looking for. This in itself is close to the nature of an addiction and should be seen as a warning sign against the use of LSD.
Psychoactive and Other Effects
The actual psychoactive effects of LSD are largely hallucinogenic; it alters your perception of reality and causes your senses to play tricks on you. Sometimes, hallucinations from LSD can take a very dark and frightening turn, known as having a “bad trip.” It is generally understood that LSD has these hallucinogenic effects by interacting with neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, particularly serotonin (which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, thoughts, and general physical senses). When serotonin is affected by an outside substance, it can significantly alter not only the feelings of the substance user but also their behavior.
Other than hallucinations, the effects of LSD include the following:
- altered perception of sound
- pupil dilation
- periodic flashbacks to past “trips” weeks or even months later
- increased and rapid heart rate
- increases in body temperature
- high blood pressure
- loss of appetite
- sleeping difficulties
- dry mouth
The hallucinations themselves encompass and alter just about any aspect of one’s experience, including an altered sense of time and self-identity, the experience of synesthesia, and extreme mood swings or concurrent emotions.
All of these effects may differ from person to person, but across the board, LSD has a very strong impact on the human brain.
Risks of LSD Use
While LSD isn’t technically physically addictive (as it doesn’t cause physical symptoms of craving afterward), it is psychologically addictive and may result in mental withdrawal symptoms. This psychological withdrawal could spark a return to using the substance but with a higher dosage, thus resulting in addiction-like use of the drug. It’s also important to note that other hallucinogenic drugs are addictive.
Additional risks of LSD use include the following:
- Putting oneself in physically dangerous situations
- Difficulty concentrating
- Flashbacks to past “trips”
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
A significant danger for LSD users is the possibility of experiencing a state of psychosis, which is essentially a disconnect from reality, and their LSD-induced psychoses may last for long periods of time and require medication or therapy. Some who experience psychosis from LSD use never recover from it. Severe depression is also a potential result of LSD use.
Flashbacks are another unusual and frightening danger that comes with LSD use. These flashbacks are sudden reexposures to past “trips” from as long as weeks or months prior. Even though these flashbacks are more likely to occur for those who are long-time hallucinogen users or those with personality disorders, they can occur for anyone and can be quite distressing.
Furthermore, the effects of LSD are particularly unpredictable, and therefore even a regular user cannot know for certain what state their body and mind will be in several hours after their next dose. “Bad trips” or physical harm are always a possibility during any given use of LSD.
Finally, the legal ramifications of being caught with an illegal and illicit drug such as LCD are severe and well worth considering. For example, for first-time possession of LSD, the federal penalty is up to one year in prison as well as a fine of at least $1,000. From there, the penalties only get more severe and more costly. The potential of being caught by the law is yet another reason to steer clear of LSD and other illegal drugs of its kind.
Consideration of these side effects and other risk factors should be taken seriously by anyone thinking of using a dangerous (and illegal) drug like LSD. While LSD has been studied to some extent for potential uses therapeutically, it has not yet been sufficiently scientifically demonstrated to be of value for treatment of any kind.
Popularity of LSD
The popularity of LSD has fallen since the initial decades of its abuse by the general public (namely the 1960s and 1970s). LSD use (as well as the use of other hallucinogenic drugs) was indeed much higher in those decades and has in recent years remained relatively low for the U.S. population.
For example, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2020 estimated that only about 2.6% of the population aged 12 and older had used any hallucinogens in the prior year. For comparison, data has shown marijuana use to be much higher in younger populations. For example, one study found that over 30% of seniors in high school were marijuana users.
One potential issue that has arisen with LSD’s relative lack of public interest in recent years is that as a result there has also been a decline in the next generation’s awareness of its risks and the issues it can cause.
Recognizing LSD Use
There are some tell-tale signs that may indicate that a loved one or someone you know is using LSD. You might notice a sudden sense of paranoia or disorientation. Flushed skin, bizarre comments out of the blue, increased anxiety, and convulsions are also common signs of LSD use.
Other indications include the following:
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature
- Paraphernalia (tablets, blotter paper, sugar cubes, or gelatin)
- Poor appetite
- Babbling or incoherent speech
If you notice one or more of these signs in someone you know, there is a chance that they are experimenting with LSD (or a similar hallucinogenic drug), and they may need help.
What About Mixing LSD with Other Substances?
An additional practice amongst hallucinogen users is the mixing of hallucinogens with other substances, whether additional hallucinogenic drugs or alcohol. This practice is typically done either with the intent of intensifying the “trip” experience or with the misled belief that some substances may “cancel each other out” to some extent, thereby allowing the experience to be more controlled. The fact of the matter is that mixing LSD with another mind-altering substance is never recommended and can be very dangerous.
LSD and MDMA (Candy Flip)
“Candy flipping” is the mixing of LSD with another potent drug called MDMA. MDMA is the same thing as ecstasy, and it’s a hallucinogenic drug as well as a stimulant. The typical effects of MDMA when taken on its own are hallucinations, temporary positive emotional feelings, altered perception of space, loss of self-identity, loss of appetite, and disorganized or confused thoughts. It’s also important to note that often MDMA contains extra ingredients that are added to dilute or “cut” the drug and save money, and these ingredients themselves can cause bad side effects.
Mixing LSD and MDMA (candy flip) will result in any number of combinations of effects from either or both drugs. Past studies have implied that MDMA typically has more of an effect than LSD when they are used together, but the experience of any given person will vary. As a result, a candy flip may result in any or all of the following symptoms, and potentially to a more extreme degree than using either drug by itself:
- Increased energy
- Increased heart rate
- Altered senses of time and surroundings
- Mood swings
- Euphoric feelings
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Impaired judgment
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Body chills
- Excessive sweating
- Elevated body temperature
Needless to say, the mixing of LSD and MDMA is not a good idea and lead to many problems, both in the short term and the long term.
LSD and Shrooms (Hippie Flip)
Another drug mix known to many is the combination of MDMA or LSD and shrooms (hippie flip). Mixing these drugs together, not surprisingly, can have extreme effects that can lead to danger and leave the user disoriented.
There are many different factors that affect how exactly this combination will affect a person, including which order they take the drugs in, how much they take of each, how pure the drugs are, and the personal health of the user.
Shrooms on their own can produce hallucinations, panic, paranoia, nausea, and intense introspection. Hippie flipping, then, may also produce these effects as well as any or all of the following:
- A sense of bonding on a social level
- Confusion and disorientation
- Enhanced experience of visuals
- Elevated senses in general
- Increase in emotional intensity
Because of the unpredictable and psychologically addictive nature of both LSD and shrooms, both should be avoided, including both their separate use and combined use.
LSD and Weed
Marijuana (or “weed”) use produces a kind of high that some consider relatively safe, but it also has potentially harmful effects. It reduces one’s ability to concentrate, problem-solve, and learn, and it impairs their ability to stay alert. It also causes forgetfulness. Overuse and long-term use of it can lead to dependence and addiction.
Mixing LSD and weed, then, is a clear sign that a psychological or physical addiction has begun to take hold of someone, as they are seeking an enhanced or different kind of result from their drug use. The mental impairment of weed combined with the hallucinations of LSD can be dangerous when combined. Even on their own, LSD and weed both have potentially harmful side effects, so it’s wise to avoid both.
LSD and Whippits
“Whippits” is basically just slang for nitrous oxide when it’s used as an inhalant. It is one of the top 10 most abused drugs globally, and minors are some of the primary users of it. The high experienced from inhaling the nitrous oxide is intense, but it also fades relatively quickly. Nonetheless, the overuse of this type of drug intake can cause serious damage and even death.
The combination of LSD and whippits can be dangerous especially because the LSD trip that one experiences may cause just enough confusion or disorientation to cause them to “huff” a dangerous amount of nitrous oxide.
LSD and Alcohol
Combining LSD and alcohol tends to reduce the effect of both substances. Many people think this is an indication that it is a safe practice, but it actually creates a false sense of security and can result in overdosing on the drug or drinking too much, resulting in unpleasant experiences and total loss of control. This is largely because the LSD reduces your ability to properly perceive the effect of the alcohol.
As is typical with mind-altering substances, the results can also be somewhat unpredictable. Sometimes the mixture of these two substances results in intense vomiting, and other times it may simply be a long state of hallucination followed by an extreme hangover. Needless to say, LSD and alcohol are both potent substances and should not be combined.
What About Microdosing?
Microdosing is the practice of taking a very minimal amount of a drug in order to try to reap the benefit of its effects without the risk of its more serious side effects. This practice has grown greatly in popularity in recent years, but this is largely the result of online forums which are more anecdotal and subjective than anything. Scientific research into this area of hallucinogen (and other drug) use is limited.
Admittedly, there are studies underway (and increased interest in such studies) regarding the potential benefits of these drugs for mental health disorders such as depression. However, more research is needed, and the drugs themselves are so unpredictable that the results that one person reports may be drastically different than the results that another person might experience from the exact same microdosing.
It’s also important to note that there are microdosing individuals who have reported increased feelings of neurosis as a result of their drug use, and there is also a lack of long-term studies to show what kinds of effects microdosing might have over a longer period of time on the human brain and body. The microdosing community is unregulated and therefore does not have a consistent authority to ensure that the data from its forums is legitimate or consistent.
Most notably, however, microdosing is concerning because of the inherent risk it brings of creating a tolerance for the drug being used and thus creating a situation where psychological or physiological addiction is possible. Though many people believe that hallucinogens are not addictive, it is too simplistic to say they don’t have any addictive qualities; they simply don’t cause the same kinds of physical withdrawal symptoms that other drugs may cause. Microdosing can build up a tolerance that can become (functionally) a sort of addiction that will necessitate greater and greater dosage of LSD or another drug over time to produce the same desired effect. The fact of the matter is that LSD and other drugs like it are used for the effects they have on one’s feelings, and feelings are a powerful motivator for the human population. For these reasons, microdosing is a dangerous game to play.
Getting Help When You Need It
If you or someone you know is struggling in any way with LSD use or any other drug-related problem, it’s important to get help as soon as you can. Contact Clean Recovery Centers and get the help you or your loved one needs to overcome the debilitating and dangerous presence of drugs. Life is better lived when you are free from the control and influence of substances that can sap your time and energy and destroy your most important relationships.