LSD & Brain Chemistry

Troy Farah:

Around 10pm at a summer solstice party somewhere in Canada on June 20, 2000, about 20 people swallowed glasses of water mixed with the powerful psychedelic LSD. A decimal place error caused them to take about 10 times more of the drug than they thought they were getting. For the 12 hours that followed, they would ride out one of the most intense experiences of their lives, one that would change them forever.


One of the cases covered in Haden’s study was that of a 15-year-old girl with bipolar disorder. She was one of the 20 people who accidentally OD’d on acid at the summer solstice party in Canada. She took a whopping 1,100 micrograms. For the next six hours, her behavior became erratic. She lay on the floor in the fetal position tightly clenching her arms. Her friends thought she was having a seizure and called an ambulance, although no one was sure if she was actually seizing, lost consciousness or was just lost in the overwhelming experience.

The next morning, her father visited her in the hospital. She told her dad, “It’s over.” He thought she meant the acid trip. She clarified that no, her bipolar illness, which had caused daily manic episodes, seemed to be cured. A week later, her symptoms had still not returned. Doctors followed her progress for over a year, and nearly two decades later, she still hasn’t experienced episodes of depression or mania outside of postpartum depression. Looking back on the overdose, she said it felt like her brain chemistry had somehow been “reset.”

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