Can an LSD Overdose Kill You?

The psychedelic drug LSD is still popular. But how dangerous is it?

LSD tabs. Credit: Getty Images.

Can you really die from taking too much LSD, a popular psychedelic drug? A new mini-documentary answers the question as “no” but with some caveats. It’s very unlikely to die from an actual overdose of LSD but there could be other damage or dangers from this powerful and unpredictable substance. You may not die but you could overdose, experiencing such things as panic attacks, severe depression, seizures and erratic behavior. 

With the average dose of LSD ranging between 40 to 500 micrograms (μg), overdose effects have been recorded at doses from 1,000 to 7,000 micrograms. Even the strongest users are unlikely to come in contact with such an amount of LSD, according to the filmmaker behind the documentary. 

Check out the documentary here:

There have been few documented cases of death attributed to an LSD overdose since the discovery of the drug in 1943. One happened recently, in August 2017, at the Lightning in a Bottle music festival in California. The death of the 20-year-old Baylee Gatlin was initially blamed on LSD, although the coroner report later said LSD was not responsible. LSD could have contributed but the cause of death was ruled to be multi-organ failure, hyperthermia and dehydration. Audible484, the author of the documentary, thinks it is also possible she died from a research drug, misrepresented as LSD.

Dr. David Nichols, an expert on hallucinogens, told the San Luis Obispo Tribune, “It’s just not logical or reasonable to conclude that she is the first of 30 million people who have safely taken LSD to have died (from that small amount). It’s not possible. There is something else. They did not analyze what they should have analyzed.”

Earlier in 2017, the death of a teenager in Canada was also linked to LSD. After taking LSD with a friend, the 19-year-old Henry Suggitt exhibited bizarre behavior before losing consciousness. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate him. The post-mortem exam revealed that he had 1.3μg of LSD for every 1 mL of blood and 31mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, with the coroner stating that “the medical cause of death of Henry Suggitt was one of LSD toxicity.”

Also of note is the 2015 death of Arthur Cave, the 15-year-old son of the musician Nick Cave, who fell from a cliff after taking LSD. His death was not from an overdose, but more indicative of the kind of dangerous situations taking LSD can create for some.  

In recent years, microdosing with LSD has caught on with some people who take smaller doses (10μg, for example) to feel sharper. 

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