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Understand the risks of using psychedelic drugs

Risk is a difficult and complex topic. The safest thing is to stay on the safe side, follow the recommendations of the authorities and say that psychedelics can be very harmful. And then stop there. But for me personally this becomes far too imprecise and I think it is possible to give a more nuanced picture if you dare to move a bit on the glattis. One can start by saying that research from the 1960s and now the last ten years indicates that psychedelic drugs are not as harmful as have been commonly believed, at least. Politically driven anti-drug campaigns have gained a foothold, but research is now beginning to penetrate.

Measure risk of death

When it comes to risks and side effects for drugs that have not gone through all the clinical stages of approved drugs, we have worse numbers than clinicians would like. It is often used formulations that "can cause increased blood pressure, psychosis, death, & #8230;" which always makes me ask for statistics. Without a statistical context such information is totally useless to me. So how big is the risk actually? Everything we do carries a certain risk of death, but also some benefit of some kind. But how do you assess the risk and benefit of something that you have not done before and that is difficult to define? There are a couple of phrases that I find helpful. LD50 (abbreviation for lethal dose 50%) can be used to assess the risk of so-called pharmacological overdose, as it is used to describe the dosage at which 50% of those who take it die. The term micro roach, an abbreviation of "micro mortality", is a unit of measurement that corresponds to a millionth chance of death, and can be used to calculate more general risk of death, including pharmacological overdose and other factors. With this you can compare unknown activities with known activities, which has helped me a bit in the assessment. I'll be back to micromort a little further down.

Test the cases

Test your cases. The biggest risk with both LSD, psilocybin and MDMA is getting something different than what you want. Everyone can be tested with test kits from sites like dancesafe.org and tripsafe.org and it doesn't cost the whole world. You do not want to be sure that you have got something deadly in you as your whole world changes.

test of ecstasy, 2c-b and more with marquis
The test fluid for MDMA is named Marquis and Erlich for LSD / psilocybin.

LSD and psilocybin

Both LSD and psilocybin have extremely low toxicity. So low that so far it is uncertain how much is needed for a person to die from pharmacological overdose. Through experiments on mice, it is believed that 82,000 times the dose of LSD is needed for them to die. Humans react differently than mice, but by converting from mouse to human, one would think that LD50 by LSD and psilocybin is around 1000 times the user dose. In comparison, a human will most likely die from either 3 packs of Paracet, 20 vodka shots or 6 liters of water. So dead because of. You do not really have to worry about overdose with LSD and psilocybin. Accidents under the influence of LSD or psilocybin have occurred, but this is very rare and has been greatly inflated in the media. It is difficult to find good numbers of accidents related to LSD / psilocybin, but nothing indicates that the risk of an LSD / psilocybin-related accident exceeds 1 micromort. In comparison, for example, a day in the slalom tray equals 0.7 micromort. Driving one mile on a motorcycle equals 1 micromort.

Psychological harm

The psychological risk element of LSD and psilocybin is significantly greater than the physical. Research from the 1960s to the present has consistently shown that the risk here is also very low if you follow some guidelines ("set and setting", a sober person who watches, etc.), but most people who try these drugs often expect anything other than what they receive and do not follow these guidelines. This can provide difficult experiences that will be difficult to handle afterwards. A difficult experience is not bad in itself, but without anyone to talk to or tools to treat the experience it can end up as something traumatic one would rather just forget. Psychological harm is difficult to define, but it has been common to believe that psychedelics cause chronic psychoses. It is known that psychedelics (and other psychoactive substances) can trigger psychosis, but no one has seen them correlation between chronic psychosis and drug use. There's indications that psychedelics generally have a positive impact on the psyche over time, but there are exceptions. Flashbacks have occurred with some users. Not everyone thinks it is negative, but in some cases it has been difficult. For example, there is something called HPPD, which is a more persistent visual disorder. There is little research on this and much uncertainty about prevalence. Personally, I have great respect for "set and setting" after meeting several who have been careless and in retrospect believe that LSD / psilocybin has had a negative impact in their lives.

I would highly recommend TripSafe.org for more information on classic psychedelics.


MDMA, also called Molly or ecstasy, is an abbreviation for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine and has become one of the most common party drugs in Norway in recent years. Until it became illegal in 1985, it had a clear therapeutic use as well, including in couples therapy and trauma treatment. The drug is chemically similar to mescaline and amphetamine and is a substance that stimulates the uptake of serotonin and oxytocin (the "cosets") in the brain. David Nutt, a leading English scientist and psychopharmacologist, stated that a horse ride has the same risk profile as a dose of ecstasy, somewhere between 0.5 and 1.5 micromort. LD50 at MDMA is estimated to be 10-20 mg / kg, so it is possible to encounter overdose if you are careless. Some pills can contain up to 200-300 mg MDMA, so if you take three of these you are clearly in the red risk zone. In crystal form (as often MDMA is sold in this country), it can also be difficult to calculate on target. I think it is important to note that some situations can significantly increase the risk.

  1. Again, test the cases. There are several drugs out there that have been sold like MDMA or ecstasy that are significantly more harmful, e.g. PMA / PMMA which has caused several deaths in Norway. In powder form, you can also risk getting MDMC (methylon), which has a slightly different effect, and which you know very little about mtp. toxicity. PsychonautWiki has a lot of good info on different substances.
  2. Don't overheat. You get increased heart rate and blood pressure of MDMA and lower sensitivity to fatigue and overheating. This means that you should be extra careful with warm places (dance floors, hot tubs, etc.) and take care to take breaks. If you dance on a hot dance floor for several hours in a row, the chance of getting started heat stroke to be unnecessarily high.
  3. A weak heart can handle MDMA poorly. If you have had problems with your heart or suspect it, you should preferably refrain or consult with a doctor in advance.
I would highly recommend RollSafe.org for more information on MDMA.

More information about psychedelic therapy?