Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has been deeply misunderstood for decades yet remains one of the most prevalent psychedelics in the world.
Just how common is LSD really? Here are some interesting statistics to think about.
A 2019 survey shows that over 2.4 million US citizens — approximately 1% of the population — report having used LSD within the previous 12 months.
Another survey suggests that about 10% of users (about 0.1% of the population) in the United States use LSD on an ongoing basis (more than once per year).
Research collected by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported a remarkable 50% uptick in LSD usage from 2014 to the present compared to 2005–2013. The same study showed that usage in younger Americans — aged 18 and younger — decreased by nearly 25% in the same period.
Related: Is LSD Legal in the US?
Studies completed in America on individuals in high school routinely confirm that about 5-8% of all students have tried LSD at least once. The US Department of Justice also noted that approximately 4% of all high school students used LSD at least once in twelve months leading up to the study.
Data from other studies suggest that about 1.4% of high school seniors are regular LSD users, having taken the drug in the 30 days leading up to the survey. When compared to psychedelic use as a whole, it’s clear that LSD is the most prevalent psychedelic drug for use by high schoolers.
More broad studies have confirmed that just under 7% of high school students have used some psychedelic drug at least once, which includes LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and several other drugs.
Over the past ten years, more than 25% of all high school students have stated that they have access to LSD.
LSD Usage in Europe
The European Drug Report of 2017 confirmed that approximately 1% of residents between the ages of 15 and 34 had used LSD at least once in their lifetimes. Finland residents reported slightly higher use in 2014, with around 1.4% of the population reporting LSD usage.
Throughout Europe, the highest rate of lifetime LSD usage was in England and Wales, with 4.8% of the entire population reporting having used LSD at some point.
Frequent usage — as defined by reported use within 30 days of the survey — is significantly lower across Europe, with the highest rate of 0.4% in Poland.
LSD-Related Deaths (UK)
There are limited data available for LSD-related deaths in the UK. Only statistics for England and Wales are available, and these two countries reported five total deaths related to LSD from 1993 through 2014.
It’s important to note that these instances are likely not directly from LSD consumption but unsafe trip conditions. Research has shown that LSD is not toxic, even in very large doses. The LD50 of LSD remains unknown to this day, and signs of toxicity don’t begin to present until roughly 100 times the standard psychoactive dose.
Related: Is LSD legal in the UK?
The most recent surveys completed in Canada for LSD use by all adults are quite dated; reports are available from 1989, 1994, and 2004. In 1989, approximately 4.1% of all Canadians reported LSD use at least once in their lifetimes; this is compared to 5.9% and 13.2% in 1994 and 2004, respectively.
Use within 12 months of the given survey from these years was 0.4% in 1989, 1.1% in 1998, and 1.3% in 2004.
Related: Is LSD Legal In Canada?
The most recent country-wide data — from 1998 — shows that about 6% of students of 15 years of age or younger have tried LSD at least once.
Surveys completed between 1994 and 2004 suggest that LSD usage by youths in Canada has increased by about 13%.
More recent studies completed in Ontario in 2019 show that about 2% of high school students reported LSD use within 12 months of the survey being presented. This same study reported that as high as 3.2% of all high school students in Ontario had used LSD at some point in their lives.
LSD is illegal in nearly every country worldwide, but usage still persists in individuals of all ages.
Most data presented above suggest that long-term LSD usage has declined significantly since the late 1990s, especially in high school students.
However, usage has started to increase again in recent years, particularly in high school students in Canada and adults in the United States.