LSD: A Newbies Guide To Preparation, Set and Setting
Updated: Nov 3, 2022
So youve decided to try LSD for the first time. Perhaps you have a lot of experience with other non-psychedelic substances and are ready for something a little different. Perhaps youve never taken psychedelic substances but have been intrigued by what youve heard about the experience, and you want to give it a go. Perhaps youve used LSD or other psychedelics in the past, but the experience wasnt as good as you had hoped and youre wondering how you can improve it next time. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, the aim of this guide is to provide you with an overview of things to consider to increase the likelihood of you having a safe, enjoyable and rewarding experience.
LSD can provide some truly beautiful experiences unlike anything else. Euphoria, joy, wonder, amazement, the list goes on. This guide doesnt focus on these experiences, but instead is concerned with safety and harm reduction in order to maximise the chance of having such positive experiences. It offers advice to this end and discusses a number of pitfalls to avoid. A lot of recommendations are offered throughout, sometimes strongly. It is not intended to suggest that this is the only good advice, or that if you dont follow this advice you wont have a good time. This guide is more intended to be a statement of best practice, and contains many of the things you can possibly do in order to maximise enjoyment and minimise risk.
Although this guide is written with those who are new to the psychedelic experience in mind, it should prove helpful and informative to those with some experience but who have not considered exactly what it is that makes some psychedelic experiences more enjoyable than others.
This guide will focus on LSD, but much of the advice contained within can be applied generally to other drugs that provide a psychedelic experience, such as psilocybin (the active compound found in magic mushrooms). Nonetheless, if you are considering taking a substance other than LSD, you should do the appropriate background reading on the particular substance you are considering.
Unfortunately, due largely to government restrictions and constraints, scientific research into LSD and other psychedelic substances is highly limited, and the experience is little understood. This guide is based on the authors personal experience over many years, a lot of reading, and discussions with likeminded folk. It is not a bible, and should not be taken as such.
LSD provides a fundamentally different experience to non-psychedelic substances. Most substances, such as alcohol or MDMA, provide relatively predictable effects that arent influenced nearly as much by what are known as set and setting, both of which will be discussed in more detail later. This is an area where the psychedelic experience diverges from other psychoactive experiences, and it is one reason why psychedelics should be treated with respect and not taken on a whim, especially if you are new to the experience.
If you happen to be the sort of person that thinks Whatever, I can handle my drugs, Im just gonna take a load and see what happens. Thats what I did with MDMA and it was great then I implore you to reconsider, read this guide, and approach LSD a little differently.
So what should you consider before embarking on this journey?
Embarking on your first LSD experience can (and should) feel like taking a step into the unknown. Hopefully this thought excites you. However, its perfectly normal and healthy if it also makes you feel a little anxious, so its best to go into this as well-prepared as possible. The first thing you should do is read. (Hey, look, youre already doing this, go you!)
Thanks to the internet, its incredibly easy to find a near-endless source of information about the LSD experience. You should take advantage of this. Read about the effects and dosages, read other guides after youve read this one, read discussions about the experience on forums. Read, read, and read more. Erowid.org is a great place to start.
Although its impossible to put the experience into words that effectively communicate what its like to those who have never gone through it, there is still much to learn from reading trip reports. Especially useful are trip reports written by those who are taking LSD for the first time, as these generally attempt to communicate what the fundamental effects are.
There are many misguided beliefs circulating amongst the general population about the effects of LSD on the mind and body. These are often based on rumour, urban legend, or poor quality drug education that employs scare tactics in order to promote abstinence as opposed to safe usage. Perhaps you have some concerns about an aspect of the experience that falls into one of these categories. If so, read up on it. Is it true? Is it really something to worry about? Knowing the answer to these questions will put you in a much better place when it comes time to actually take some LSD.
Ok, so Ive read around, and am ready to take some LSD. What now?
When trying to make your first LSD experience as safe and enjoyable as possible, there are three main things to consider: set (your mindset), setting (your physical environment), and dosage (how much LSD to take) . In this section, well take a look at all three of these. Well also touch upon your options if something doesnt go to plan, and youre not enjoying your experience as much as youd hoped.
A good time to take LSD, especially for the first time, is when youre feeling generally good about yourself and about your life. This doesnt mean you have to feel super positive about everything and you have to be totally content in your life. If thats you, then great. For the rest of us, such moments are few and far between, if they happen at all, and there is generally always something in our lives we have some worry or anxiety about. Thats not a problem. What is meant here is that if you are struggling with something in your life that is causing you an abnormal amount of stress, anxiety, worry, discomfort, grief etc. then you should consider waiting until those clouds have passed before you take LSD.
LSD can amplify the emotions we already feel. If you take LSD when youre very stressed out about something, you may end up feeling more stressed about it while on LSD. This wont be an enjoyable experience. Of course, you may feel better about the thing as well, but its a roll of the dice, and not one thats worth taking if its your first time.
OK, I feel fine mentally right now, so Im going to try LSD.
Great! As mentioned above, taking LSD for the first time can feel like taking a step into the unknown (because it is!). Understandably, even if youre very excited to try it, this can lead to feelings of nervousness, anxiety and apprehension. This is normal, extremely common, and nothing to worry about if you follow the advice below about setting and dosage in this guide.
If, however, you are sitting there with a tab in your hand ready to go, and youre feeling extremely anxious or worried about the experience, then stop. Dont take the LSD. There is no shame in saying No, not today. Im not in the right mindset. It is a bad idea to take LSD if youre genuinely scared of the experience in that moment.
The reason for this is that your aim going into this experience should be little more than to go with the flow, for lack of a better term. Essentially what this means is that you want to lean into the effects, to enjoy them, and not to resist them. If you are extremely anxious about the effects, then this will be very difficult to do, and you will likely end up resisting them, and, at best, thats going to make for a frustrating time.
In this scenario, you need to figure out whats making you feel like this. Maybe youre worried about something you heard about LSD and didnt research. Maybe youre not sure if you actually want to take LSD and peer-pressure has led you here. Maybe theres something about your set or setting which doesnt feel right to you. It could be any number of reasons. You should work out this fear and deal with it before taking LSD.
The final thing to say here is that if you struggle with serious mental illness, LSD may not be the drug for you. This author is nowhere near qualified to offer any advice in this or any other area to those struggling with mental illness. If you are someone who falls into this category, and youre absolutely committed to taking LSD, then I strong advise you to consult medical professionals and to do as much research as possible on the experiences of those with the same diagnosis as you before making your decision to take LSD.
Ok, Im in an ok/good place mentally and am looking forward to this experience. Where should I take it?
The importance of setting cant be overstated. One aspect of the LSD experience is how it connects you to the present moment and your physical environment. Its often hard to consider anything else, so making sure youre in a comfortable environment is paramount.
Amongst experienced users, preferred settings differ from person to person. For example, some people love taking LSD at festivals/raves/parties, and others prefer much more peaceful environments. However, what most experienced users will agree on, is that for your first time you want to be in a place that is both safe and comfortable. The main things to consider here are company and location.
Although some experienced users enjoy taking LSD on their own, this isnt ideal for your first time getting acquainted with the headspace it provides. A better idea is to take it with close friends. These should be people (or just one person) you trust and feel comfortable around.
Some people also like to have a trip-sitter, which is someone who isnt going to take LSD but will be with you for the experience. This is definitely a good option if you dont have any friends who want to take LSD, and some people prefer to have a trip-sitter even if theyre not taking it alone for their first time for that extra peace of mind, though most would agree that this is not necessary if you follow the guidance on dosage below. This author has never had a trip-sitter, and never felt the need for one.
Remember, you want your environment to be safe and comfortable. Of course, where that is will differ from person to person. Generally, your home or a friends house is going to feel safe and comfortable to you, and for most people this is the best setting for your first LSD experience. Comfortable seating and no surprises. Make sure you bring/buy everything that you might want for your trip before you start. Its much better if you dont have to go to the store or something during your trip. You might also want to think about lighting and decoration to make the environment more interesting, but this is optional.
Another option, depending on your location, is to go to a secluded place in nature. However, this requires a lot more planning and preparation and depends on a huge variety of factors. For some people, It may not be advisable for your first LSD experience, but is something to consider in future. For many people this is the ultimate setting. There is so much to see, to explore. It can provide some truly breath-taking and exquisite experiences. This isnt an outdoors or camping guide, so suffice it to say you should be adequately prepared for a day/night in nature. If spending a day/night in nature is new to you, then its probably best you dont take LSD the first time you do it. Keep in mind that LSD lasts for a long time, so its not a good idea to plan on driving back home after taking it.
Wherever you decide to have your first experience, and whoever you decide to have it with, its a good idea if you dont have much to do the next day. You may not be able to get to sleep for quite a while (this differs widely from person to person). Take the day off work. Although LSD tends to leave an afterglow (positive thoughts, mood boost etc.), its nice to have a day to relax and recover. Go for a nice walk if possible. Take some time to savour the positive and unique experience youve just had.
Ok, so weve got the location sorted. How much do we take?
LSD is generally measured in micrograms. There are 1000 micrograms in a milligram, and 1000 milligrams in a gram. Therefore, 1 gram of LSD provides 10,000 doses of 100ug. If you have somehow stumbled upon a bag of powdered LSD, step the fuck back.
LSD is most commonly sold in several forms: blotter paper (tabs), liquid, microdots and gel tabs. Each form is just a different way of storing LSD and they dont provide different experiences. All else being equal, 100ug in liquid form should provide the same experience as 100ug in any other form.
A common piece of advice you might come across is start low and go slow. This is good advice. If theres one thing you should take away from this section, this is it.
Ok, so whats low? Exactly how much should I take?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some people are more sensitive to LSD than others. On top of that, equally experienced people may offer a range of different answers to the same person. Firstly, lets take a look at how Erowid classifies different dosages:
Threshold: 10-20 ug
Light: 20 - 75 ug
Common: 50 - 150 ug
Strong: 150 - 400 ug
Heavy: 400 + ug
The right dose for you will depend on your set and setting. Are you quite apprehensive about this experience, or are you desperate to jump right into it? Whatever your answer to those questions, most experienced LSD users would agree that a dose of between 50-100ug is a good place to start. This will provide you a nice introduction to the headspace that LSD creates, with very little risk of the experience becoming intense or overwhelming even to those sensitive to the compound.
This is not to say youll have a bad time if you take 150ug, or even 200ug. The point here is that you want to become acquainted with the very unique headspace that LSD provides before you turn up the intensity. Remember, the effects are going to last for a long time (12 hours or so), so you want to be comfortable. There is no rush to dive straight in with a larger dose, even if youre excited to do so and confident you can handle it. You will have plenty opportunities to try out higher doses later, and you will likely have a much better experience on them once you have some experience with lower doses under your belt. Its worth keeping in mind here that there are many experienced LSD users who have taken much higher doses whose favourite dose is 100ug. So start low and go slow.
If something doesnt go to plan
Hey, I followed all your advice, but Im not enjoying my trip right now. What should I do?
This is a very unlikely situation if you followed all of the advice in this guide, but its not impossible.
Firstly, dont panic. This is just a drug. Everything is going to be fine. You will be back to normal in just a number of hours. Remind yourself of these indisputable facts as often as you need to. Do your best not to resist the effects of the LSD. Go with the flow, as best you can.
If this isnt working for you, then you could take a benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax). This wont bring you back to normal straight away, but it will calm your nerves significantly. You will likely find yourself becoming calmer even before its kicked in. Then, in an hours time, youll probably regret taking it because things dont look as cool as they did before. But hey, at least you feel better.
Finally, dont judge yourself. Theres nothing wrong with you for reacting this way. It doesnt mean you can never enjoy LSD or other psychedelics. If you like, make a post on an appropriate forum detailing your experience and get some advice from more experienced people.
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