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LSD Abuse & Addiction, Hallucinogens, Symptoms, Effects, Overdose Risks, & Treatment

LSD is a psychedelic drug that can cause hallucinations, delusions, and drastic behavioral changes.  Although the substance is not physically addictive, LSD can cause several long-term health problems, psychological dependence, or death. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), first synthesized in 1938, is a highly potent hallucinogen.  It is synthetically made from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.  It is so potent its doses tend to be in the microgram (mcg) range.  Its effects, often called a “trip,” can be stimulating, pleasurable, and mind-altering or lead to an unpleasant, sometimes terrifying experience called a “bad trip.”

LSD is a powerful synthetic hallucinogen.  The psychedelic drug can cause visual hallucinations and change a person’s mood, emotions, and perception.  Because it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, LSD is illegal in the United States. The drug is hazardous.  It can damage the body, alter the mind and cause volatile behavior that threatens the safety of the LSD user and others.  Chronic LSD use can cause long-term health problems such as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder.  The disorder causes flashbacks to spontaneous visual distortions that may reoccur months to years after quitting using LSD.

Is LSD Addictive
The psychedelic drug can cause visual hallucinations and change a person’s mood, emotions, and perception.

Some people may inhale LSD through the nose (snort) or inject it into a vein (shoot it up). Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the amount of LSD contained in any form consumed.

Other Hallucinogens include:

  • Phencyclidine (PCP, Angel Dust)
  • Ayahuasca (DMT)
  • Salvia divinorum (salvia)
  • Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms, Shrooms)
  • Mescaline (Peyote, Buttons, Cactus)

Is LSD Addictive & How Is It Abused?

LSD, also called acid, is a white or transparent crystal most commonly sold on the street as a tablet or capsule.  The odorless drug can be crushed into a powder, dried on gelatin sheets, added to sugar cubes, or dissolved in water. In powder or liquid form, the drug can be inhaled or injected.  Powdered LSD can also be compacted into small balls known as microdots.  In liquid form, it can transfer the substance onto an absorbent paper called a blotter.  The drug is usually divided into tabs, which are small single-dose squares.  Acid tabs or pills contain 20 to 80 micrograms of LSD.  They can be swallowed, licked, or chewed.

Who Abuses LSD?

Adolescents abuse LSD more than any other age demographic, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  The report found that about 209,000 people aged 18 to 25 were current LSD users in 2016.  Acid is common at dance clubs, music festivals, and underground parties called raves. 

Is LSD Addictive Physically?

People develop a tolerance to LSD with repeated use.  This means they need to use the drug more frequently or in higher doses to achieve the desired high.  However, abusing acid does not lead to drug addiction because it does not cause physical cravings or compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

Four Reasons Why LSD Can Be Less Addictive

  • The drug’s effects last longer than those of other drugs, which reduces the need to purchase the drug frequently.
  • People tend to use LSD infrequently because of its inconsistent effects and the potential for adverse reactions.
  • Tolerance develops rapidly, making it pointless to use the drug repeatedly.
  • The powerful hallucinations produced by LSD cause people to avoid the substance to recover from its effects.

Although acid is not physically addictive, people can become psychologically dependent on the substance.  While individuals may repeatedly use LSD to experience sensory hallucinations, most people wait extended periods before retaking the drug.

Symptoms Of LSD Use

LSD use can cause unpredictable effects.  Some people enjoy their high, but others endure terrifying fear and feelings of despair.  The drug alters a person’s mood, personality, and perception of time.  The effects can last up to 12 hours, but LSD stays in your system for about five days.

Effects Of LSD Use

Is LSD Addictive
The physical effects of LSD are unpredictable from person to person. 

LSD is a mind-altering drug.  It is thought LSD causes its characteristic hallucinogenic effects via interaction with the serotonin receptors in the brain.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps control your behavior and mood, governs your senses, and moderates your thoughts. Usually, the first effects of the drug when taken by mouth are felt 30 to 45 minutes after taking it, peak at 2 to 4 hours, and may last 12 hours or longer.  The intravenous (IV) route will produce a much quicker action, usually within 10 minutes. 

LSD Addiction Effects Includes

  • Hallucinations
  • Distorted Visual Perception of shapes, colors
  • Altered Sounds
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Flashbacks (a return of the “trip” experience) days or months later
  • Rapid Heart Rate, increased body temperature, and high blood pressure
  • Dilated Pupils

Extreme mood changes can occur.  If taken in large enough doses, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations.  Overdose can lead to severe psychosis.  Death is often due to a direct injury while under LSD influence; there is no known lethal dose of LSD.  The physical effects include nausea, loss of appetite, increased blood sugar, difficulty sleeping, dry mouth, tremors, and seizures.

The user may also experience the impaired depth and time perception, with a distorted perception of the size and shape of objects, movements, color, sound, touch, and body image.  In addition, sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds.  These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. 

Some LSD users also experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, and fear of insanity or death.  An experience with LSD is referred to as a “trip.” Acute, disturbing psychological effects are known as a “bad trip.”  These experiences are lengthy, with the effects of higher doses lasting for 6 to 12 hours, and it may take 24 hours to return to a normal state.

Is LSD Addictive? plus LSD Overdose Risks

An acid overdose occurs when a person takes a dangerous amount of the drug.  Overdoses require immediate medical attention.  Excessively high doses of the drug aren’t fatal, but they can cause psychosis and a more intense psychedelic experience.  In addition, some people experience a “bad trip,” which can cause confusion, panic, anxiety, or helplessness that lasts several minutes or hours.

Is LSD Addictive
Some people who take LSD enjoy and relish the unpredictable nature of the drug’s effects. 

LSD Overdose Symptoms

  • Violent or Hazardous Behavior
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

Taking LSD can be dangerous, but combining it with other substances can lead to severe health consequences.  For example, mixing LSD with alcohol can exacerbate hallucinations and cause risky behavior that leads to injury or death.

Managing LSD Abuse

Hallucinations can lead to violent behaviors.  Therefore, when assisting high on LSD, it is best to keep them in a safe environment under direct supervision.  This ensures that they do not harm themselves or others.

A low dose of a short- or intermediate-acting benzodiazepine may control anxiety and increase sedation in LSD users.  However, if they experience depressive symptoms, they may need antidepressant therapy.  Individuals experiencing psychotic episodes may require treatment with antipsychotic medication.

People who are psychologically dependent on acid should seek treatment or self-help support.  In addition, groups such as Narcotics Anonymous encourage people to participate in supportive discussions that teach ways to overcome substance abuse.

Health Hazards And Flashbacks With LSD

Under the influence of LSD, the ability to make sensible judgments and see common dangers is impaired, making the user susceptible to personal injury or death.  After an LSD trip, the user may suffer acute anxiety or depression and may also experience flashbacks (also called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder), which are recurrences of the effects of LSD days or even months after taking the last dose.

  • A flashback occurs suddenly, often without warning, usually in people who use hallucinogens chronically or have an underlying personality problem.
  • Healthy people who only use LSD occasionally may also have flashbacks.
  • Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use. LSD users may also manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression.

LSD produces tolerance, meaning the user needs greater doses of LSD to get the same high.  As a result, some users who take the drug repeatedly must take progressively higher doses to achieve the state of intoxication that they had previously achieved.  This is an unsafe practice, given the unpredictability of the drug.

Treatment For LSD Use

Once a decision is made to obtain treatment, there are several steps to take.

  • Speak to a healthcare provider to help direct you to reliable sources of help and monitor your progress.
  • Talk therapy (behavioral counseling) and group counseling may be an option to help you understand your behaviors and why you continue to use LSD.
  • Keep your appointments and follow your provider’s treatment plan. Consider including trusted family or friends in your treatment plan.
  • Take care of yourself: Exercise, eat healthfully and control your stress level. Surround yourself with supportive people.
  • Medical therapy may be need to treat symptoms due to drug use, such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia.
  • Work to find new hobbies and interests that will take your mind off of drug use. Consider a volunteer opportunity.
  • Each day makes an effort to stay away from people who abuse drugs, even if they are former friends.

We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope.  We work as an integrated team providing information to questions such as “is LSD addictive?” and other aspects of treatment.  Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life.  Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists.  Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.