5 True Bad Acid Trip Stories

Firsthand Experiences of LSD

Lysergic Acid (LSD) is an unpredictable drug with a range of hallucinogenic effects. The experience of intoxication on this drug, known as an "acid trip," or just "trip," can quickly become unpleasant, which is known as a "bad trip." The following are a variety of true bad acid trip stories. These stories are presented to raise awareness of the kinds of experiences that can happen when people "drop acid," although the experiences described are individual and not necessarily representative of what is experienced by all users of LSD. In fact, many users of LSD do not have intense effects, especially if the dosages they consume are small. Dosages of LSD are very unpredictable, as the drug evaporates over time, and the amounts are so small they are difficult to determine, as the drug is typically made in clandestine labs.

1
Jack Hallucinated Bugs and Snakes

A snake and a bug
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Jack took his final acid trip at age 20, which he described as "the only one in which I lost the ability to know the difference between what was real and what was induced hallucination." He ingested 125 micrograms of LSD, which took effect while he was walking on the beach with a friend, Bill, who was not intoxicated. The way he described what happened went like this:

"All of a sudden I was transported to never-never land, a deep dark place where everybody was a bug with insect faces, antennae coming out of their heads and all this dripping and masticating going on with their mouths... Snakeheads were bobbing around every corner."

As the visual distortions continued, "I started raving, going nuts... I was gone. It was about three hours of grisly horror. I was so distracted by the ghastliness of it all that I didn't have time to notice how scared I was. I thought this metamorphosed world was reality. I was screaming and yelling and jumping around while Bill tried to maintain me."

The bug and snake hallucinations continued on the drive home, and Mark kept trying to jump out of the car, so Bill had to tie him down. The drive was "one of the most gruesome experiences I can ever remember... I was out of my mind, horrified by these hideous visions I kept seeing... It was really a miserable, miserable experience."

After he came down from the drug, Jack's eyes were damaged from the sun for weeks afterwards—the pupils (the dark spots in the middle of your eye) dilate in response to LSD and he had not worn sunglasses. Jack became socially isolated. He felt like an outsider and discontent, unable even to have a sense of belonging with his previous "subversive" companions, and described himself as more inclined to see the dark side of humanity.

"Now I didn't belong to anything. I'd stepped away from my family and lost a lot of friends. I went off into the abyss because I was disconnected, on the road to nowhere. I never took LSD again."

While the consequences of Jack's bad trip were temporary, sometimes people can be affected for long periods of time, developing substance induced mental health problems. Others are lucky enough to come down and feel much the same as they did before they had the bad trip.

2
Mark's Behavior Got Him Hospitalized

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At age 17, Mark took 5000 micrograms of LSD with four friends. As the acid took effect, Mark felt alienated from his companions, although later he reflected that maybe the hostility was all in his head. Feeling increasing paranoia, he went off into town on his own.

As the intoxication effects intensified, it looked as if "the streets were melting and churning," and people looked like comic book characters. A field looked like a Van Gogh painting, "everything in my field of vision looked slabbed on, like one of his paintings."

Mark stopped by the home of a family he knew, in search of sanctuary, and requested a shower, which he then felt unable to control. Mark's  parents arrived, but his behavior felt out of control. He ran out of the house, thinking he could fly, although he was briefly sobered by the experience of stubbing his toe. He returned to the house, but then "the whirlwind began again," and he began racing around the house being chased by their Saint Bernard dog.

In an effort to control Mark's behavior, his companions put him in a small room, which only antagonized him further. He threw a chair through the window and escaped.

On his way home he felt an impulse to be free and unencumbered, so he stripped off his clothes. An ambulance was called, he was tied onto a stretcher, and taken alone to a hospital, where he was given an injection of antipsychotic medication. He was kept under observation for 10 days and charged with indecent exposure.

Mark's experience was unusual in that his behavior was dramatic, and he was taken to hospital. Most people who find clothing and being inside constricting do not lose control over their behavior to this extent. However, he did take a very high dose of the drug, many times as much as Jack in the previous story.

3
Wayne Anthony's Girlfriend Became Destructive and Violent

Young couple arguing in street
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Wayne Anthony described a horrific turn of events when he and his girlfriend dropped acid, and she had a bad trip from the start. This was also a bad trip for Wayne because he had to cope with trying to subdue her aggressive behavior and getting her professional help while he was under the influence himself.

As a musician, Wayne's girlfriend owned a lot of recording equipment, which she smashed to pieces while under the influence of LSD. Stripping herself naked, she proceeded to cut herself with a broken shard of plastic and became violent towards Wayne and others who attempted to dress and help her.

Wayne called an ambulance and he and the paramedic struggled to get her into the ambulance, as she was so physically aggressive. While in the hospital she assaulted a nurse, and it took many people to hold her down so she could be forcibly injected with a sedative. She was given the maximum dose of sedating medication to calm her down.

After coming down from the drug, she was horrified at what she had done—assaulting herself and others, and destroying her own equipment. Clearly, she was in a very altered state of mind from the drug.

This story illustrates the fact that although most people do not become violent from taking acid, when they do, it can be completely unprovoked and irrational and very difficult to control.

4
Boy George Lost Control of His Bodily Functions

Singer Boy George performs live on stage at Indigo2 at O2 Arena on April 3, 2014 in London, England.
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Culture Club frontman Boy George described a bad trip in his autobiography, "Take It Like a Man."

Although he had used other drugs in the past, including weed and heroin, it was the first time he had taken acid. Compared to other drugs he had taken, which take effect in seconds or minutes, there was a long delay between taking LSD and the drug taking effect. It can often take up to an hour for an acid trip to start after swallowing the acid tab. George got bored waiting after taking the first tab and took a second dose, so when the drug finally took effect, the trip was very intense.

George and his friends headed to a club. After going through feelings of paranoia about the police presence outside the club, and upsetting another celebrity, George began to feel that he had lost control of his body. The visual hallucinations made it feel like "everything was breathing and coming at me. I started shrinking and feeling scared. We had to leave."

He then upset most of his companions, who left him alone with his  celebrity pal, Marilyn. By then, George had lost control of his bodily functions. "I was tripping so badly I couldn't get myself to the toilet. Marilyn led me to the loo in hysterics and left me staring at the bowl. I caught my melting face in the mirror and started to freak. 'I can't go, I can't' [then] I pissed myself."

Although people don't usually lose control of their bodily functions when intoxicated on LSD, the whole process of using the toilet can actually feel quite complicated, due to the sensory distortions that can happen. People can also find themselves questioning social norms, which can seem pointless and meaningless, hence the occasional removal of clothing described in other stories. This is not what usually happens on acid, as people on acid will usually try to follow the normal social rules, but it can occur if the person is very intoxicated.

5
Dr. Frank Olson Took His Own Life

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In a tragic LSD government experiment, Dr. Frank Olson, a Special Operations Officer and biochemist, consumed a drink spiked with LSD. A firsthand account of what he experienced during this trip is not available, but he was reported to have suffered from psychosis as a result. Days later, he took his own life by throwing himself out of a tenth-floor window of the Statler Hotel in New York.

We will never know what Dr. Olson actually experienced during or after this trip, but the subsequent investigation indicated that he may have had a history of emotional instability. Furthermore, ingesting a drink spiked with a hallucinogenic drug without your knowledge is likely to be much more confusing and frightening than experiencing the effects after intentionally taking the drug through your own choice.

While the triggering of psychosis and deaths by suicide and accidents are relatively uncommon under the influence of LSD, it is a real risk. People who have a history of emotional or mental health problems are particularly strongly cautioned of this risk.

A Word From Verywell

As these stories illustrate, tripping on acid can be a frightening and even dangerous experience that can affect people for months or even years after taking it.

If you do find yourself or someone you care about experiencing a bad trip, there is still a lot you can do to improve the situation—in particular, remember that it isn't real, stay safe, and do your best to connect with someone. Although hospitals are not usually comfortable places for people who are intoxicated on acid, don't hesitate to take someone to hospital who has taken any drug and lost consciousness, who appears to be incoherent, or who becomes violent. Police officers are increasingly becoming educated about drug effects, and can help to keep the peace if someone is behaving in a highly disruptive manner.

If you feel you need more help with quitting or cutting down on acid or any other drug, explore treatments for addiction.

Sources:

Anthony W. Class of 88: The True Acid House Experience. London: Virgin Books. 1998.

Black D. Acid: The Secret History of LSD. London: Satin Publications. 1998.

Hayes C. (editor). Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures. New York: Penguin. 2000.

Liechti ME, Schmid Y, Enzler F, et al.Acute Effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide in Healthy SubjectsBiological Psychiatry. 2015.

O'Dowd G. & Bright S. Take it Like a Man: The Autobiography of Boy George London: Pan McMillan. 1995.