I would never belittle the dangers of drug overdoses, and would never condone anyone taking a massive amount of anything, let alone an illicit drug, however, a woman recently took over 500 times the amount considered to be safe of LSD – with some surprisingly positive results.
A 46-year-old woman snorted a staggering 550 times the normal recreational dose of LSD and not only survived, but found that the foot pain she had suffered from since her 20s was dramatically reduced.
According to CNN, in another unrelated incident, a 15-year-old girl with bipolar disorder overdosed on 10 times the normal dose of the drug, which she said resulted in a massive improvement in her mental health.
While the experiences of these women were exceptional, their stories can help inform the resurgence of research into the use of psychedelic substances for the treatment of conditions such as addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.
“No clinical trial research could be done with dosages this high and there are no publications exploring the positive outcomes of very large dosages of LSD,” the authors of a paper detailing the two cases said.
“To understand the effects of extremely high dosages of psychedelics such as LSD, an examination of overdoses in naturalistic settings is required.”
However, experts stressed that these cases were unique and warned against experimenting with the drug, which is illegal in the US and UK.
“They don’t really show the benefits of LSD, rather they show that in some people exceptionally high doses don’t lead to enduring harms and may do some good,” said professor David Nutt, director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London.
In September 2015, the 46-year-old woman took 55 milligrams of what she believed was cocaine but was actually “pure LSD in powder form.”
The authors defined a normal recreational dose as 100 micrograms — equal to 0.1 milligrams.
The woman blacked out and vomited frequently for the next 12 hours but reported feeling “pleasantly high” for the 12 hours after that — still vomiting, but less often.
According to her roommate, she sat mostly still in a chair, either with her eyes open or rolled back, occasionally speaking random words. Ten hours later, she was able to hold a conversation and “seemed coherent.”
Her foot pain was gone the next day and she stopped using morphine for five days. While the pain returned, she was able to control it with a lower dose of morphine and a microdose of LSD every three days. After more than two years, in January 2018, she stopped using both morphine and LSD and reported no withdrawal symptoms, although the case report said she did experience an increase in anxiety, depression and social withdrawal.
According to CNN, for the 15-year-old, known as “AV” who overdosed on 10 times the normal LSD dose in June 2000, the experience led to a dramatic change in her mental health.
The girl was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 15, having suffered from depression and hallucinations from the age of 12, which at times had put her in a hospital, including once after she bit her mother, the case study said.
Her overdose happened when the supplier of liquid LSD made a decimal place error when preparing individual hits diluted in glasses of water, making them 1,000 mcg per glass instead of 100mcg. AV drank one glass and leftover drops from two others.
Partygoers said she behaved erratically for the next 6.5 hours, followed by what they believed to be a seizure, as she was lying in a fetal position with her arms and ﬁsts clenched tightly. An ambulance was called, but by the time the paramedics arrived 10 minutes later she was alert and oriented.
When her father visited her in the hospital the next morning, AV told him, “It’s over.” While he thought his daughter was referring to the LSD overdose, she later clarified that she meant her bipolar illness was cured and she felt able to experience life with a “normal brain.”
While LSD has long been used for its mind-bending effects, the drug also has a history of being used to treat mental health problems.
What do you think of using psychedelic drugs like LSD to treat pain or mental illness? Please reply using the comments below.