LSD

LSD, also referred to as “acid” or “lucy”, is a powerful hallucinogen manufactured from lysergic acid found in certain rye fungus. When consumed in larger doses, users experience intense visual hallucinations distorting their sense of time and identity. A shocking 2020 survey found that about 2.4 million US citizens reported using LSD within the past 12 months. Continue below to learn more about LSD addiction and addiction treatment as well as the drug’s short and long-term effects.

What Is LSD?

Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, is one of the most widely known hallucinogens. It was popularized in the 1960s by poets and musicians. Although its usage has declined since the 1960s, LSD’s popularity still fluctuates up and down. It is a quick-acting drug with effects beginning between 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion. Not only does the drug alter the user’s brain chemistry, but it also affects their mood, behavior, and the way they perceive reality.

An LSD high is known as a “trip.” However because of the drug’s unpredictability, many people don’t know if they will experience a good or bad trip. While many users describe “good trips” as spiritual awakenings, “bad trips” can lead to panic attacks, and terrifying flashbacks and images, sometimes lasting up to 12 hours. Moreover, LSD is especially dangerous for people who are predisposed to psychiatric conditions such as psychosis, depression, and schizophrenia. Repeated misuse can trigger the onset of these diseases or worsen symptoms.

Although LSD is not considered to be a physically addictive drug, it can be psychologically addictive, especially when used regularly. When abused frequently, the user’s tolerance will build up over time and they will require a higher dosage to achieve the same psychedelic effect.

What Are Common Street Names for LSD?

Popular names include:

  • Acid
  • Dots
  • Blotter
  • Lucy
  • Purple Haze
  • Mellow Yellow
  • Tab
  • Trips
  • Window Pane

What Does LSD Look Like?

LSD is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste. After being produced in its crystalline form, it is diluted into a liquid. Then, droplets of the drug can be added to absorbent paper or onto sugar cubes. It also comes in the form of small gelatin squares, known as “window panes.” Occasionally, the drug comes in the form of a tablet, a capsule, or white powder.

How Is LSD Used?

In general, LSD is taken orally. Users either use droplets or place blotter paper underneath their tongue, then the drug absorbs into the bloodstream. In some rare instances, it is crushed into a powder and dissolved into a liquid. There are also reports of some users injecting this liquid directly into their bloodstream.

A popular new trend called microdosing is emerging, in which the user takes a small dose of a hallucinogen to experience positive effects. For example, a microdose of LSD supposedly causes a mood boost, enhanced creativity, and increased mental and physical stimulation. However, microdosing can be dangerous. Although the dose of LSD is very small, the chances of developing an addiction increase with any exposure to the drug.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of LSD?

LSD can provide a psychological “trip” for individuals looking to temporarily abandon their reality and relieve stress or boredom. It affects users by distorting colors, sounds, and shapes, which can provide a sense of euphoria but can also endanger the mind and body. Some of the drug’s short-term effects include:

Psychological Effects

  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Heightened sensitivity to sounds, smells, or sensations
  • Synesthesia (mixing of the senses)
  • Mystical or religious experiences
  • Unusual thoughts and speech

Physical Effects

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased body temperature

Why Is LSD Harmful?

LSD is a particularly dangerous hallucinogen because it impairs individuals’ sense of sight, hearing, and touch. In addition, it causes volatile mood swings and may lead to panic attacks or depression shortly after use. During a “trip”, users will see and experience unrealistic situations, usually causing that person to become aggressive or act irrationally toward their surroundings and other people. Moreover, because LSD wreaks havoc on the brain, a “bad trip” is not only physically dangerous but also psychologically dangerous. Some report having extreme fears of going insane, dying, or even having suicidal and homicidal thoughts. LSD can also cause unwanted flashbacks months later, even from one-time use. However, if the drug is taken over time, other health issues may emerge.

 

What Are the Long Term Effects of LSD Abuse?

Repeated LSD misuse can lead to addiction and health problems, including:

  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Impaired vision
  • Panic attacks
  • Schizophrenia
  • Cardiovascular collapse

What Are the Signs of LSD Addiction?

Although not physically addictive, continuous LSD misuse can cause the brain to become reliant on the drug. Those who frequently abuse the hallucinogen may experience physical and behavioral changes, such as:

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Extreme relaxation
  • Disorientation

Physical Symptoms

  • Tremors
  • Weight loss
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tingling fingers or toes
  • Dilated pupils

What Does an LSD Overdose Look Like?

An overdose or “bad trip” occurs when an individual takes a toxic amount of LSD. However, it is impossible to determine what dosage will lead to an overdose, as an individual’s overall health status and frame of mind greatly affects this. Inexperienced users are at greater risk of overdosing because they don’t know the amount they can handle, and the potency of each dose can vary. Signs of an overdose include:

  • Vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Muscle shakes
  • High body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excessive sweating

Some symptoms of an LSD overdose cannot be seen, such as blood clots and internal bleeding. Therefore, individuals who experience an overdose require immediate medical attention.

How is LSD Addiction Treated?

Detox

To be able to effectively address the impact that addiction has had, individuals must first stop using LSD. While medically-monitored detox is not required for LSD addiction, individuals often experience dangerous psychological effects when they stop regular use. As a result, it is recommended that individuals go through this process under the supervision of a health professional so that they do not harm themselves or others. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Shakes
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Double vision
  • Rapid breathing
  • Loss of coordination

Addiction Treatment

While LSD addiction certainly affects physical health, its psychological impact is often more severe. Therefore, individuals should follow a comprehensive treatment plan once the detoxification process is complete. Sometimes, benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat anxiety and calm the recovering individual. Drug counseling is available for individuals with an LSD dependency in the form of inpatient/residential treatment and outpatient treatment. Both options help individuals address mental health concerns, identify co-occurring disorders, manage emotions, and effectively respond to setbacks. Clinical treatment also provides individuals with relapse-prevention skills and tools to help cope with stress, so they are able to continue their sobriety efforts and maintain healthy habits in their life outside of rehabilitation.

In addition to traditional treatment practices, holistic therapies can be helpful because they empower individuals to develop greater self-awareness and provide those in recovery with opportunities for emotional exploration and self-reflection. Those recovering from LSD addiction can especially benefit from activities that target their emotional needs. For example. individuals struggling with the psychological impact of their LSD misuse may cleanse their minds and bodies through sweat lodge therapy, a ritual that purifies the spirit and pushes individuals out of their comfort zone. Users who relied on LSD for stress relief may find comfort in yoga, which clears the mind by developing focus through breathing and posing exercises. Finally, those who used the drug to alter their mood can safely explore feelings of exhilaration, fear, and freedom through ropes courses.

To discover more therapeutic activities that encourage total well-being, review our Wellness page.

If you or a loved one is struggling with LSD addiction, know that you are not alone. Our team of medical, clinical, and wellness experts are here to help you break free from addiction and achieve the happy, healthy life you deserve.