A person’s first drug experience can be particularly risky.
The risks are likely to be higher if you are on your own, take the wrong dose, are in the wrong place or time, or are already under the influence of something else – usually and probably most dangerously, alcohol. If people know more about what they are taking, how to take it and what to watch out for, we believe they would be safer especially on that very first occasion.
We hope this information can be used to increase awareness about the potential risks of first time use, in order to reduce negative outcomes. If you would like to find out about harm reduction strategies most commonly adopted by users of psychedelics around the world, check out the guide to safer, more enjoyable drug use.
You may find the following dosage guide taken from the GDS Highway Code helpful :
GDS harm reduction checklist for first time users of LSD
1. KNOW STUFF: Know about the drug you are planning on taking. Do some research, talk to friends who have used LSD, find out the basics like how it might make you feel, dose, how long it takes for the effect to start, how long before it peaks, how long it will be before you feel back to normal.
2. DON’T GO SOLO: Don’t be on your own, your mates are the best harm reduction you have, so stick with them. Ideally be with trusted friends or at least with someone who has used the drug before and least one person who will remain sober throughout the experience. It’s far from ideal to take LSD with a bunch of other people who have never tried it either. If something does occur and all of you are intoxicated there’s no one about sort things out. If you experience something unusual (and with LSD you sure as hell will) you need to be able to talk to someone about it. (Being able to talk it through with someone who knows what you might be going through is fab, the reassurance a friend can give is so valuable.) If you plan on taking a walk, let someone know, or better still, maybe take someone with you. And if you’re not at home know where you’ll be spending the night and how you’ll get there.
3. THE LAW. Possessing illegal drugs is an offence. Many drugs are illegal to possess. In many countries supply is the simple act of passing a controlled drug to another person, money does not have to be exchanged for the offence to occur. Getting a criminal record for drug possession can be hugely damaging. Anyway, just thought we’d mention it.
4. USE IT SOLO: Don’t drink alcohol or use any other drugs that day, especially before you use. Having other drugs in your system can make it difficult to assess the effects of a new drug and can sometimes increase the risk of unwanted effects. Being intoxicated can alter your sense of time and can also impair your judgment, especially when it comes to re-dosing. And of course, it will confuse your assessment of what the drug was like, the same as if you cover a new type of food in ketchup!
5. DRUG QUALITY: Know as much about your drug and as far as possible, trust the source. You can never be sure how much LSD is in your tab or even if it’s LSD in the first place. You can only rely on the source and if possible, that a person you know has used the drugs from the same batch. Testing for LSD using reagent kits is pretty limited and even if you are sure your drug is LSD and LSD alone, no test will tell you how much is in tab. And for LSD – dose is everything. Ideally you will have person who has used the same tab and who has good idea of dose and can advise you. Most LSD tabs will contain between 50-200mcg. That 4-fold difference is the difference between bright vivid colours and subtle changes in thought process to meeting ‘oneness’ and seeing your hand melt into the floor. Note that are also some very dangerous (deaths have occurred) and potent drugs that can be sold as LSD on blotters like NBOME and even synthetic cannabis products. These can be very risky indeed.
6. DOSE LOW: Start low, go slow. Getting your dose right for LSD is difficult because it all depends on where you want to go. There is a spectrum of doses from 5-15mcg (microdosing) that might lead to very subtle and for some people, almost imperceptible chances in mood and perception – to an intense experience with significant shifts in thought processes and emotional awareness, sensory distortion and frank hallucinatory experiences. Wherever you choose to go that very first time you try LSD is a matter for you to decide, but many would suggest that it might be more sensible that your first experience is a more manageable and less intense event. If it’s to your liking, there’s always another time when you can push the boat out a bit further. So for many, starting with a half or quarter of a tab is sensible. Redosing is tempting but remember LSD lasts several hours so taking another dose too soon might lead to an expected increase in experience that some people might find unpleasant.
7. SAFE SPACE AND TRAVELS: Make sure you are in a familiar and safe place, don’t drive / cycle and avoid cliffs, pools, ponds and other big bodies of water. Being in safe familiar place is so important. Familiarity with your environments can provide reassurance when other things appear very strange. Because LSD can also alter your sense of time, space and coordination it can be easy to accidentally hurt yourself if you misjudge your footing (for example if you’re high up near a window or cliff edge). Staying (physically) on solid ground while your mind wonders is a good tip. And don’t drive or cycle – both can be really risky under the influence of LSD. If you need to move – walking is the way to go.
8. BE HAPPY: Feel well and well happy in yourself. Like most drugs LSD will tend to lead your brain in the direction it was pointing before you took the drug. Niggling doubts, worriers or fear can become amplified and upcoming potentially stressful events can look murky and endless. Although most people navigate their way through challenging experiences with the help of friends, getting lost in a negative thought loop – although time limited – can be distressing. The time to try a drug like LSD for the first time is when you feel well, settled and happy in yourself (and with those you are sharing the experience with). Like going on holiday with good mates, tripping in trusted company always makes the journey better. If you have a serious mental health condition and/or are taking any psychiatric medication, LSD might not necessarily be the right drug for you at the moment. Although currently being explored for their therapeutic potential (within clinical settings), psychedelics can worsen many conditions, especially psychosis.
9. BE FREE: Make sure you don’t have any commitments coming up in the next day or two. Although most people feel pretty much back to normal within 24 hours, if there’s something looming that will require your attention and responsibility it can feel overwhelming. At a time when your brain may be using a different operating system, this can sometimes be a bit distressing. Knowing you’ll be back to normal soon and that you have nothing to do in the next few days can give you a bit more internal comfort space.
10. BE NORMAL (SOON): Know that you’ll feel back to normal soon, even if it gets weird and that a negative experiences / moment does not define your trip. Research suggests that LSD experiences can be among the most significant in a person’s life, quite literally allowing them to see the world for the time in very different and often magical way. But within the experience people can get confused or frightened and can forget that what they are feeling is due to drugs and is temporary. Although a few minutes in an uncomfortable place on LSD can feel like forever, anchor yourself that these feelings will soon go away and allow yourself to pass through them to a happier and more peaceful internal space. For tips on how to manage a difficult experience check out the blog Sara Gael from MAPS did for us last year.
11. TELL SOMEONE: If you feel unwell, tell someone and see help. You can feel very weird on LSD. LSD is very safe drug and not one you can overdose. Accidents while you are tripping are the biggest risk, hence being in safe and familiar place. Most negative experiences on LSD are short and self-limited. Physically it’s a very safe drug. People can get confused, frightened and sometimes very agitated. Feeling anxious, very restless, really hot, confused or being unable to communicate clearly are not normal if they persist and might signal something’s up. If in doubt take some time out and tell someone Although in many cases these feeling pass, very rarely they can indicate something more serious is up. Getting checked out by first aiders or emergency medical services if in doubt is the safest thing to do. If someone fits, is acting in way that might place them or others at risk or is unarousable or if you are just worried about something the safest thing to do is to call emergency services – 999 (or the equivalent).
12. NO RUSH: Plan ahead and if in doubt, delay. Although spontaneous initiation into a new drugs experience can be exciting, it appears that most people plan ahead and do their homework (see 1-9). Before you embark on your first trip you need to think about where you will be, who you will with and what you’ll be doing and to have confidence that you’ll be in a good headspace. If on the day it just does not feel right, or if something is troubling you elsewhere in your world then hit pause and know there’ll be another chance.
GDS is very clear that the only way to avoid drug related risk is to not use drugs. This is the choice for the majority of people in every population.