LSD Overdoses: Three Case Reports

These case reports (n=3) show no lasting negative effects of an overdose (up to 550x the normal/effective dosage) of LSD.

Abstract

Objective: In academic settings around the world, there is a resurgence of interest in using psychedelic substances for the treatment of addictions, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other diagnoses. This case series describes the medical consequences of accidental overdoses in three individuals.

Method: Case series of information were gathered from interviews, health records, case notes, and collateral reports.

Results: The first case report documents significant improvements in mood symptoms, including reductions in mania with psychotic features, following an accidental lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) overdose, changes that have been sustained for almost 20 years. The second case documents how an accidental overdose of LSD early in the first trimester of pregnancy did not negatively affect the course of the pregnancy or have any obvious teratogenic or other negative developmental effects on the child. The third report indicates that intranasal ingestion of 550 times the normal recreational dosage of LSD was not fatal and had positive effects on pain levels and subsequent morphine withdrawal.

Conclusions: There appear to be unpredictable, positive sequelae that ranged from improvements in mental illness symptoms to reduction in physical pain and morphine withdrawal symptoms. Also, an LSD overdose while in early pregnancy did not appear to cause harm to the fetus.”

Authors: Mark Haden & Birgitta Woods

Summary

Researchers are resuscitating interest in using psychedelics for the treatment of addictions, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other diagnoses. However, research with higher dosages would present greater risk of adverse events.

Case Report 1: LSD Overdose and the Consequences for Bipolar Disorder

A 15-year-old female accidentally ingested more than 1,000 mcg of LSD and subsequently experienced a significant reduction of symptoms in a previously diagnosed bipolar disorder.

Trajectory of mental health concerns

AV’s first contact with the mental health system was in March 1997, when she was referred for “hallucinations” and behavioral problems at school. She was initially diagnosed with unspecified psychotic disorder. She was started on an antidepressant medication in May 1998, but her symptoms worsened in the fall of 1999. She was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in January 2000 and refused a mood stabilizer. She was hospitalized voluntarily on February 17, 2000, to recover in a low-stimulation environment, but was discharged prematurely. Lithium was started on an outpatient basis on March 2, but her symptoms only intensified. After an incident where she bit her mother, AV was hospitalized for 20 days and was discharged on lithium and olanzapine. She had a full-blown manic episode with psychotic features and her diagnosis was changed to bipolar I disorder.

Drug use history

AV used cannabis at age 11, psilocybin mushrooms at age 12, LSD on one prior occasion, and Ecstasy twice, with her initial use in December 1999. She never used cocaine, methamphetamine, or opiates.

Psychosocial issues

AV’s home life was turbulent, with parental separation, an incarcerated father, ostracization by peers, the death of her grandmother, and school changes.

LSD overdose incident—June 20, 2000

A girl, age 15, accidentally drank 1,000 mcg of LSD after her supplier made a decimal place error and drank the “leftover drops” from two other glasses. She had a mild overdose. Observers reported AV having erratic behavior for 6.5 hours, followed by a seizure, in which she was lying in a fetal position with her arms/ fists clenched tightly. She was diagnosed with a seizure, but no loss of bladder or bowel control was reported.

AV’s father reported that AV stated she was cured of her bipolar illness the next morning, and a second EEG was ordered, which was normal.

AV has been presenting with a lovely fine balance and a glint in her eye since her seizure three weeks ago.

AV has gone off her lithium and has experienced more mood instabilities, but no evidence of clinical depression or mania.

After the LSD overdose incident, AV’s father observed that her mental health concerns were completely recovered. She was free from mental illness symptoms for 13 years, until she gave birth to her second child.

Case Report 2: LSD Overdose While Pregnant

A 26-year-old woman who had used LSD twice, mushrooms “many times”, and 2C-B twice, ingested half a glass of water infused with LSD at 9:00 p.M. and experienced an intense reaction.

NM did not know she was pregnant at the time of the overdose, but she gave birth to a son who is now 18 years old.

Background

CB contracted Lyme disease in her early 20s and used morphine for analgesia. She used four to six 10-mg pills a day, with a maximum of eight pills.

LSD overdose event—September 2015

CB (age 46) took 55 mg intranasally of what she believed to be cocaine but was actually pure LSD in powder form. She started vomiting within an hour and vomited frequently for the next 12 hours, after which she was able to converse and go to the bathroom.

CB reported that her foot pain was gone the next day, so she stopped taking her morphine and started microdosing LSD. She experienced no typical withdrawal symptoms, but did experience an increase in anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.

Case 3: Conclusion

A 46-year-old woman was able to reduce her morphine dose significantly by intranasal ingestion of 550 times the normal recreational dosage of LSD.

Discussion

These case studies detail the medical consequences of three accidental LSD overdoses. The overdoses were distressing for all participants, but there were unpredictable, positive sequelae that ranged from improvements in mental illness symptoms to a reduction in physical pain and morphine withdrawal symptoms.

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