Podcast 637: LSD - The Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast 637: LSD

Contributor: Katie Sprinkel, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Commonly known as “acid,” LSD is seeing a resurgence in the population as a recreational hallucination
  • Onset is about 30 minutes with peak pharmacologic effects at 2-4 hours, the drug’s half life is 3 hours resulting in some prolonged effects
  • While there is not an significant addictive component of LSD, tolerance for LSD does occur and prolonged usage is associated with increased incidence of schizophreniform disorders
  • Hallucinations and pseudo-hallucinations (sensory misperceptions) are typical of LSD intoxication, other common signs of intoxication include nausea, diaphoresis, tachycardia, mydriasis, and hypertension
  • More serious effects can be coma, hyperthermia, seizures, cardiac arrest, serotonin syndrome (with concomitant SSRI use) and coagulopathy, although the dose to cause these effects is very high
  • Treatment is decreasing sensory stimulation, benzodiazepines in some cases, and symptomatic treatment – no specific antidote exists


Blaho K, Merigian K, Winbery S, Geraci SA, Smartt C. Clinical pharmacology of lysergic acid diethylamide: case reports and review of the treatment of intoxication. Am J Ther. 1997 May-Jun;4(5-6):211-21. doi: 10.1097/00045391-199705000-00008. PMID: 10423613.

Klock JC, Boerner U, Becker CE. Coma, hyperthermia and bleeding associated with massive LSD overdose. A report of eight cases. West J Med. 1974;120(3):183-188.

Summarized by John Spartz, MS3 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD

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