Understanding the Acid Trip Experience
Getting high on acid (LSD) is also known as an “acid trip” or “psychedelic experience” and is technically termed LSD intoxication. During this period of intoxication, users experience a wide variety of effects, most often visual and other sensory distortions, changes to thought processes, intense emotions, including euphoria, and occasionally for some people, surprising new insights.
An acid trip is a lengthy process, typically lasting 8 to 12 hours.1 With the distortions in time perception that occur as an effect of the drug, the experience can feel much longer—some say they feel like it could last forever. This can be highly enjoyable when the mood of the user and those around is buoyant or contented, but extremely unsettling when moods are low and thoughts take a somber or even macabre turn.
Why Do People Take Acid Trips?
LSD is typically used for recreational and social reasons more than for self-medication. However, some people believe that the effects of hallucinogens help them gain insight into themselves, their lives, and the nature of the universe, and even that it helps them to access greater awareness of spirituality.
Unpredictability is the name of the game. Chronic LSD users embrace exploring the unknown and the sense of excitement of not knowing what will happen next. However, people who dislike unpredictability may find the experience of tripping on acid scary—even if nothing overly frightening happens—simply because of the profound distortions in perception and thought that occurs.1 If you like to know what to expect, you probably won’t enjoy tripping and should stay away from LSD and other hallucinogens.
LSD can trigger a variety of mental health problems and can trigger feelings of spiritual alienation as well as spiritual awareness.
Most people who take acid are hoping for and expecting a good trip. The experience of being on acid is often described as dream-like, so one way of understanding the difference between a good trip and a bad trip is to equate it with the difference between a good dream and a nightmare.
A good trip can feel pleasant—the world can seem beautiful, life can seem wonderful, human interactions can seem deep and meaningful. In contrast, a bad trip can bring overwhelming feelings of fear—the world can seem harsh, cold, and ugly, life can seem painful, people can seem superficial and cruel.
The emotions that accompany an acid trip, whether good or bad, can seem overwhelming, difficult to control, and as if they will never go away. While this experience can be pleasant if the trip is going well, a bad trip is unpleasant and frightening for the person going through it as well as for those around. There can be a fear of going crazy or “losing one’s mind,” as well as intense feelings of paranoia.