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Drug Sickness – What’s a Body Load & How to Minimize It

Body load is a bad drug experience
Written by Sarah Friedman

Body load is a form of drug sickness associated with psychoactive drugs. It’s not really different from having a bad trip.

We have different words that describe a bad experience with drugs, like bad trip. Another term ‘body load’ describes something similar, but for any psychoactive drug.

Body load definition

According to, a body load is “an unpleasant physical sensation that is difficult to describe either in terms of other sensations or in its specific location,” And that it applies to “users of psychoactive drugs, and especially users of psychedelics, to describe specific tactile sensations brought on by drug use.” These physical sensations are generally unpleasant, but also hard to objectively describe, both when it comes to the physical location of a feeling, and what exactly it feels like.

Some refer to it as pre-shock; a possible mental state when the person/body senses a lot of stress coming. Different drugs are associated with different drug load sensations, but some of the basic symptoms include: stomach ache, nausea, dizziness, shivering, tension in the torso (excessively), and over-stimulation – or the feeling of being wired or wrestles. In some cases, the user might experience shortness of breath, or feel suffocated. ‍

The terms ‘body rush’ and ‘body high’ also imply a sort of flooding of sensation upon first getting high. However, these terms come with a positive connotation of it feeling good, rather than the ‘body load’ experience of negative sensations. Since different people experience drugs differently, what might cause a body rush for one, might cause a body load, for another.

Symptoms of body load are similar to those of a bad trip
Symptoms of body load are similar to those of a bad trip

In terms of why this happens, there’s no hard and fast answer. Both a body load response and a body rush response are directly related to taking a drug with psychoactive properties; so to a degree, it suffices to say that things of this nature can be expected when messing with the brain. Some scientists believe – especially with psychedelics and MDMA, that its because of the stimulation of serotonin receptors; many of which are related to tactile functioning. Serotonin receptors also exist in the lining of the digestive tract, which could also help explain feelings of nausea, since serotonin is a big player in appetite control.

What do people have to say?

How do users directly describe their experiences with body load? I went to a couple message boards to get an idea of how other people see it. At, there were a few interesting inputs. One poster said “body load is when you took too much acid and it feels like your skin is melting.”

Another said “Body load for me is the nausea, or the teeth clenching, or the pounding heart when I’m lying on the couch…Things that are generally unpleasant or painful and take away from my mental happiness during a trip.” Yet another explained, “I get pretty nasty body loads from dried out mushrooms, for example… even as little as 1.5 grams will give me sensations of nausea and random localized pressure that usually stresses me out at least a little bit.”

On, there are also some good insights and descriptions. One person said “Body load can feel good or bad- on 2c-i the feelings were based on euphoria and being ultra-energized which felt great. But I find with speed, where I’ll exhibit similar symptoms, this is more based on over-stimulation and nervous/ fight or flight/ adrenaline responses which directly affect the physical body and make me feel awful.”

Another explained their own experience like this: “Thats what I specifically associate with body load…that feeling like you HAVE to do something RIGHT now, yet [you] have no idea what and no urge to get up. Tightness/cramping in the upper chest makes it quite hard to breathe…its sort of like a strong hit of adrenaline but not quite. I will frequently get this on lsd if i am cooped up in a cramped area and it will grow and grow till it is intolerable.”

Someone else described it this way, “You can think of it as a poison. 5-Meo-DMT has body load, is recreational and also a poison in toads, along with a close chemical 5-OH-DMT. The latter is not considered recreational and can kill small animals. It causes very discomforting body load, can cause temporary paralysis, and some other nasty side effects such as heart palpitations and blood pressure issues.”

Psychedelics are known for causing bad trips
Psychedelics are known for causing bad trips

And yet another, said this: “I always used the term ‘body load’ for the physical effects a drug has to the body eg. twitches, cramps, aches, tremors, jaw clenching etc. and also like how much it takes out of you: like energy, like i would say substances like DO* would have more of a body load than LSD and so does 2c-t-7.”

Is this the same as a bad trip?

There are very few finite definitions when it comes to things like this. After all, if it can’t be said for sure what causes something, its hard to establish much about it; like why it happens, or exactly WHAT happens. Often, different things are described the same way; giving the impression that they’re the same. Or conversely, one concept can be spoken about as different things, when its only one concept.

I believe the latter is the case with bad trips and body load. It seems by both the symptoms, and the drugs they’re more likely to happen with, that we’re talking about an anxiety response; and one likely to happen from a serotonin rush. Both concepts are technically relevant to any drug which doesn’t feel good when taken; but are both more often spoken about concerning psychedelics.

In fact, the symptoms are nearly exactly the same; although perhaps a ‘bad trip’ is more indicative of an entirely bad trip, while ‘body load’ might refer more to just the beginning part. However, as there is no definitive amount of time that body load symptoms last; the term can be used to describe an entire trip; in which case, it really is just a bad trip.

The term ‘bad trip’ generally refers to psychedelics, which are known to bring on a negative trip for some people, or under certain circumstances; but its attached to other drugs as well. Though the word ‘trip’ implies something hallucinogenic; the term can pertain to any negative drug experience. In the most basic sense, an overdose of any drug, is a bad trip. Body load is also spoken about most with psychedelics, but is a broader term that implies a negative reaction from any psychoactive drug. Once again, the meanings are essentially the same.

How to reduce body load symptoms

No one wants to feel bad from the drugs they take to feel good. It’s actually rather sad when you think about spending money to get the right thing, finding the right person to procure it… and then having a horrible experience. Truth is, we can’t always know what will happen when we take something, but there are a few things that might point us in a more positive drug-experience direction.

LSD is associated with creating body load symptoms
LSD is associated with creating body load symptoms

For one, and this is important; not every drug is for everyone. Unfortunately, there can be a little trial and error to find out what works for you and what doesn’t; but pay attention. If a certain drug or class of drugs gives you a problem, do them less, or not at all. Or, start with way lower doses, or cut the dose the next time if your last experience on a certain amount, was bad. Much like when trying to avoid a bad trip, its also good to make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible, and going into it with as little stress as you can.

Bad trip and body load reactions might even be related to our individual genetics, and how our own bodies respond to a compound. Think of how some people get horrible hangovers, while others are up and skipping the next day. Or how some people smoke weed and fall asleep, while others think that everyone is watching them. We might be more prone to a specific reaction, based on things we can’t conceptualize at all. For this reason, its best to do what works for you, and not base what you take, or how much of it, on your friends or others around.


Drug experiences can be bad, good, or even both at the same time. If you’re having a body load or bad trip issue with any drug, perhaps rethink using it again. And alternatively, there might be something out there, that works better for your chemical make up.

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About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.