Microdosing LSD: A Drug Use Trend with Dangerous Consequences

LSD mood swing

Microdosing on LSD has been touted by some as having health benefits, but such alleged benefits have often been called into question. Recently, a scientific study was done to test whether or not micro-dosing on LSD delivers any measurable benefits to users. The study results suggest there are no such benefits. Further, there are well-known, documented, and proven harmful side effects of using psychedelic drugs.

What Is Microdosing?

glass pipette - macrodosing

A technique in use now for well over a decade, “micro-dosing” is the practice of consuming very low doses of a psychedelic substance, such as LSD or psilocybin-containing mushrooms. While most people who experiment with such mind-altering drugs may use anywhere from 100 to 200 micrograms of the psychedelic, micro-dosing involves using a much smaller amount of the drug, approximately 10 to 30 micrograms.

The reason why people who use drugs would opt to microdose is that they are trying to get the alleged “benefits” of the drug without experiencing any of the harmful side effects. Unfortunately, the unwanted side effects of psychedelics seem to occur anyway, with one study showing that 18% of microdosers experience physical discomfort and 6.7% experience increased anxiety.

New Study Debunks the Viewpoint that Microdosing Has Any Benefits

In addition to microdosing having the potential for harmful, unwanted side effects, a new study suggests there are no benefits to microdosing, indicating that people should do away with this dangerous and misleading trend.

“The results were a little bit disappointing in that we didn’t see any dramatic improvements in mood or cognition, or really any lasting changes on any of the measures that we looked at.”

Researchers at the University of Chicago recently sought to determine if 56 research participants who took 13 to 26 micrograms of LSD over time would have positive results. Study participants were given four separate doses of LSD, with three to four days in between each dose. The participants weren’t told what type of drug they were getting, and some received a placebo.

To determine if the drugging produced any benefit, participants received brain tests. They also performed various tasks to measure their emotional state during drug-use sessions and follow-up sessions. Neither the brain scans nor the tasks to measure emotion showed any indication of improvement in the mindset or emotional state of the participants.

One observed effect was that the participants seemed to build a tolerance to the LSD, with what little effect the drug did have gradually diminishing with each incident of the study participants taking the drug. This would suggest that the study participants were building up a tolerance to LSD, indicating they would need more of the drug to experience its effect. Again quoting Dr. de Wit, “We did see some effect of the drug when people first got it. They felt more stimulated. They felt more awake and energetic. But that effect kind of declined a little bit across the four sessions.”

One of the conclusions drawn from the study is that any alleged benefits that people experience from microdosing on LSD are surely placebo effects. The drug user’s condition seems to improve simply because they think that the drug they are taking may be helping them.

The concept of microdosing is not the first trend that has been put forward by people who want to normalize the use of psychedelics. However, it’s important to recognize that using psychedelics not only produces no legitimately measurable benefit, but there is also a long list of risk factors and unwanted side effects that go along with using such drugs.

Harmful Effects of Experimenting with LSD

Addict in front of the mirror

LSD is one of the most powerful mind-altering chemicals in use today. It appears in the form of a clear or white odorless material made from lysergic acid. Lysergic acid is found in a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. The use of LSD can lead to a long list of unwanted side effects, some of which occur in the short term (during and right after the individual uses LSD) and some of which occur in the long term (potentially years after the individual last used LSD).

Some of the side effects of using LSD include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intensified feelings coupled with extreme sensory experiences
  • Changes in one’s sense of time and position in space
  • Increased blood pressure, breathing rate, or body temperature, potentially to dangerous levels
  • Loss of appetite, changes in eating habits
  • Sleep problems, changes in sleeping habits
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of coordination, difficulty with locomotive function
  • Excessive sweating and panic
  • Using LSD can also lead to paranoia, which usually manifests as extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • Using LSD can also lead to psychosis, which usually manifests as disordered thinking detached from reality
  • People who use LSD may act compulsively, exhibiting bizarre behaviors

There are also long-term effects of using LSD. For example, one of the most sinister effects of using LSD is called “Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD).” NIDA defines this disorder as the individual having recurrences of LSD experiences, such as hallucinations or other visual disturbances and sudden occurrences. These drug-use flashbacks often happen without any warning whatsoever, and they may occur within a few days or perhaps more than a year after the individual last used LSD.

People who use LSD may also experience a type of persistent psychosis, a series of continuing mental problems, including acute visual disturbances (seeing things that are not there), experiencing disorganized thinking, paranoia, and exhibiting stark mood changes.

Perhaps worst of all, LSD (and other psychedelic drugs like it) have the potential to be habit-forming, meaning people who use such drugs may become addicted to them.

Helping People Overcome the Harm of Drugs for Life

It is important that notions of “beneficial drug use” be dispelled. Microdosing is not a new trend, but there has been a growing concept that microdosing may be beneficial. It is not, and people who engage in this type of drug use run the risk of experiencing the harmful side effects of LSD, including becoming addicted to the drug.

If you know someone who is using LSD or other hallucinogenic or mind-altering drugs, please do everything you can to get them help at a drug and alcohol rehab center. While LSD is not usually thought to be a deadly drug, it can cause long-term, potentially permanent damage in people who use it.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.