Everyone's experience is a little different, but most people report distinct phases of an LSD trip. These different types of sensations within a single trip gives LSD an epic feeling, and is part of what we love about tripping.
The following phases are gathered from our group's collective experiences, are entirely subjective, but may be a helpful guide to a newer user. At a minimum they help explain some of the terminology we use in our trip reports. Phases are typical for a 150 ug dose, but see the end of the article for dose specific experiences.
I. Early Stages
1. Pre-Ingestion, Mental Preparation. We often find ourselves to be anxious or nervous before a trip, if for no other reason, we tend to be busy preparing food and the environment for the best experience. During this time we are careful to not be irritated at or moody with our fellow travellers and remind ourselves about what a fun experience lies ahead.
2. Ingestion. We tend to all drop at the same time, and we enjoy making this a happy communal process. The prep is over, and now it's time to enjoy. It's natural for people to have anxiety waiting for the LSD to manifest itself, so we try to take this time to relax and reassure newer users. We also counsel newer users to be patient; that their experience may begin earlier or later than others, and not to worry about this. We remind new users they may feel mild nausea early on, and this typically passes. And we reassure them that if they feel like laughing or crying, they should not feel embarrassed to do so, as it's entirely natural. And we request that they hold space for others to experience welcomed emotional swings.
3. Onset. We tend to first notice the overt effects of the drug twenty to forty minutes after ingestion. Sometimes there is a sense of something significant happening. Some have commented on a feeling of profoundness or the feeling that something big is about to happen. Visually, our first clue of onset is finding ourselves staring at small details around us.... a blowing leaf, a rock on the ground, a point in the distances. We then notice our vision becoming clearer, as though we turned on a TV with a higher resolution than we are used to viewing. We notice changes in our depth perception, with distances between the foreground and background being exaggerated. Sometimes things in the background seemed to be in soft focus compare to the very crisp images in our immediate focus. We sometimes have feelings of mild nausea, which typically pass in 10 to 20 minutes.
4. First Hallucinations. The first hallucinations are subtle, often the appearance of mist in the sky, or very minor distortions in the distance. Colors begin to become more intense, and subtle color variations become exaggerated, especially in natural settings. A "breathing effect" is widely reported, where the entire environment pluses gradually and rhythmically, as though the world was breathing. A$AP Rocky - L$D video captures the spirit of this phase.
5. Insentifying Hallucinations. Depending on the dose, more intense hallucinations will begin to kick in. For some this happens within an hour of ingestion, for others it may not occur for a few hours. Nature may become more distorted, with trees swaying rhythmically, colors becoming very intense, and thinking becoming less rational.
Things may look cartoonish, especially things in the distance. Images may start to ghost, as shown in the video, although we find the distortion more subtle than represented in the video.
Music and light may significantly impact emotional state. Even a passing cloud obscuring the sun may be impactful, with our skin feeling noticeably cooler and our mood less upbeat.
II. The Peak
1. Psychedelic Phase. Colors have gone from being intense to being stereotypically psychedelic. All those 60's posters make perfect sense, as that color palette is now dominating our vision. Looking at a white cell phone screen is shocking, as it rapidly changes intense colors. Emotions may be intense, and things may feel to be happening quickly. Mood swings may occur, but typically a strong euphoria is present. Attention spans are short. Things may feel overwhelming, and walking from one room to another may help regulate emotions and intensity. Talking intelligently may be difficult. Words may not suffice. Music envelops the senses. Food flavors may be intense and the sensation of eating may be unpleasant or simply odd.
2. Fractal Phase. Sometimes before or after the psychedelic phase, we experience a fractal phase, where geometric patterns begin to appear and seem very beautiful. One may notice the weave of cotton sheets, the pattern of ratan furniture, or roofing tiles. If there is anything with arabic designs around, one may see surprising classic psychedelic patterns. A sense of harmony and intensity may seem pervasive. Colors will be distorted and intense, but not flashing in the way that occurs in the psychedelic phase.
3. Loss of Sense of Self; Spirituality. During intense trips, one may experience a loss of self, where the boundaries between who one is as a person and the rest of the universe dissolves and a sense of profound connection occurs (this typically only happens in higher doses than 150ug). One study has suggested this may be related to the way various parts of the brain communicate on LSD. Some have reported a similar experience during very deep meditation. Some feel moments of profound personal or spiritual insight during these phases. One may feel a deep sense of acceptance of oneself and others. Or feelings of profound loss, over the death of parents or loved ones. Or the feeling of loss over faded friendships or similar emotions. During this phase, experienced practioners may be able examine and discuss previous trauma, and find acceptance of the past.
III. The Comedown
1. Post peak. As the peak phases end, we find our taste sensations are intensified. Some foods taste amazing, especially intense flavors. This is true throughout the trip, but during the peak period, eating may be challenging. We crave sweet, sour and salty flavors initially. Juicy fruit is amazing, sour candy is too. Then we move toward more earthy flavors of tobacco, red wine, strong cheese, and nuts. A single nut may fill the senses. Sometimes we experience heightened perception of the emotional state of others and sometimes a distorted sense of other's emotional state. It's a time to be careful with personal interactions.
2. Almost sober. Any remaining visual effects are subtle, such as minor color intensity or minor distortions while watching tv. Food and drink continue to taste wonderful, but are less intense. A sense of well being and emotional peace often follows, along with a sense of connection with those close to us. Some mental exhaustion may be felt.
3. Fully sober. No noticeable impact on any sense. A sense of happiness and emotional stability sets is present. Sometimes hungry or tired, depending on the time of day.
LSD is unpredictable in intensity, and relatively minor dose variations may induce significantly different trips. The discussion below is a generalization of our experiences, but experiences that are “outliers” are not infrequent. Use this as a starting point only.
25 ug to 75 ug. A threshold/mild experience. A mild mood altering experience, with mild euphoria. Visual hallucinations are limited to color sensations, mild "breathing" effect, and psychedelic color flashes, especially when viewing bright objects like computer monitors or phones. Main trip may last four to six hours, but comedown may extend to standard length.
75 ug to 150 ug. A substantial experience. All phases of the LSD experience described above experienced. At lower range, hallucinations limited to a breathing effect, strong psychedelic colors, mild visual hallucinations (e.g., objects appear distorted). At the higher end of range, full hallucinations, with object appearing that do not exist, substantial distortion of actual objects, strong swaying of objects like trees, cartoon-like images. Sense of self intact; standard logic still applying, but self-judgment and fear/anxiety greatly reduced.
150 to 200 ug. Beautiful colors are everywhere, with stronger visual hallucinations overall. Closed eye visuals are very apparent. Life changing, spiritual experiences or realization may occur. Anxiety may occur.
200 to 300 ug. This dose is the dose Albert Hoffman, the creator of LSD tried when he first dosed himself to see what LSD's effects were like. The peak of this trip can be very intense or even scary but like any LSD trip, once the peak effects are over, a state of contentment may follow. Closed eye visuals are very strong at this dose.
300 to 400 ug. Strong visuals, loss of sense of self/ego dissolution begins. Standard logic may no longer apply at points. Visuals are intense. May be difficult to walk or understand normal day to day activities.
400 ug to 500 ug. Time distortions may become intense, including feelings of time stopping. Sense of self often gone/full ego dissolution is possible. Body movement becomes difficult and disorienting. No longer able to make standard rational thoughts as one enters a temporary psychotic state (not generally unpleasant). Very intense visual hallucinations. Closed eye hallucinations may be overwhelming, with some wishing to be able to escape the intensity of the trip.
500 to 700 ug. Very strong hallucinations. Objects appearing that do not exist. Elaborate hallucinations. Strong loss of reality. Entire ego dissolution likely. Strong religious or symbolic imagery may occur/mystical experiences reported. Often overwhelming.
700 to 1000 ug. Full out of body experiences. Synesthesia more likely. Religious imagery often strong. Entire loss of rationality, lack of ability to walk or interact in any meaningful way.
1000 to 1500 ug Perception of standard reality stops. Entire field of vision may be hallucinations, including strong fractal hallucinations. Sense of death (or more accurately sense of ceasing to exist) often occurs.
1500 ugs+ Experiences may be similar to DMT but extended. Basic body functions are challenging. Vision is entirely consisting of hallucinations. No sense of self. Audio hallucinations may be strong. Standard reality no longer applies. Merging with objects likely. No type of rational thought left.