LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide) is a psychedelic, intoxicating substance commonly referred to as “acid.” When consumed, it alters a person’s thoughts and perceptions. When an individual abuses an excessive amount of LSD or does so during certain adverse emotional states, they may experience disturbing hallucinations and feelings of anxiety and panic.
But unlike many other psychoactive substances, such as alcohol or heroin, it does not appear that it is possible to ingest a lethal amount. Moreover, when an individual “overdoses” on LSD, they are most likely experiencing what is also called a “bad trip.”
Signs and Symptoms of Acid Overdose
LSD is produced in laboratories and derived from a chemical in a fungus known as ergot. When abused, the drug is usually placed under the tongue using blotter paper or ingested orally. Less commonly, it can be found on the street or Internet as tablets or gelatin squares.
Although its use may be less dangerous compared to many other drugs, LSD is not, by any means, without its risks. Severe injuries and death have occurred as an indirect result of ingesting this substance. Indeed, accidents, self-mutilation, and even suicidal ideations and behaviors have occurred during LSD trips, when users are not entirely aware of what outcomes of their behaviors may be.
Common effects of LSD include the following:
- Distorted time perception
- Aural or visual hallucinations
- Synaesthesia, or mixed senses
- Enhanced hearing and smelling
Unwanted side effects may include the following:
- Excessive perspiration
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Blurry vision
The repeated use of LSD is hazardous and can adversely affect a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. In contrast to these relatively minor symptoms, a bad trip may be extremely uncomfortable and even terrifying. LSD users may experience frightening hallucinations and alterations in their thoughts and moods, which can place them or others at increased risk of severe injury or death.
Some potentially adverse outcomes include the following:
- Panic attacks
- Rapid mood swings
- Accidental injuries
For example, in one tragic case, in 1953, 43-year-old American Central Intelligence Agency employee Dr. Frank Olson took a fatal leap from the window of a 13th story hotel in New York. Several days before this event, at a Maryland meeting, he was allegedly given a dose of LSD by his supervisor, unaware of this fact.
Although psychosis or suicide among persons who use LSD is uncommon, it is undoubtedly a risk. These events are especially likely for people who have a history of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other conditions that can cause psychotic symptoms.
The effects of LSD are somewhat unpredictable, and it can be challenging to determine if a user might experience a bad trip. Even individuals who have repeatedly used the drug without encountering any severe issues may suddenly suffer adverse effects such as those mentioned above.
One risk associated with chronic LSD abuse is that users can develop a tolerance. When an individual first experiments with LSD, they are likely to rapidly and intensely experience hallucinogenic symptoms. However, after regular use, the brain begins to mitigate the drug’s effects, and the individual will need to use the drug in ever-increasing amounts to achieve the sought-after results they once did.
If a person uses LSD on a long-term basis, it can also increase their tolerance to other hallucinogens. Unfortunately, this increased tolerance can compel an individual to use more substances in an attempt to have a “good” trip. This problem is further complicated because it is difficult to regulate an illicit drug dosage to substances such as LSD, which can produce effects when administered in the microgram range.
Of note, LSD is not considered to be chemically addictive. Users of LSD do not commonly experience drug cravings, and cessation of the drug use does not typically result in withdrawal symptoms.
Getting Treatment for Drug Addiction
Although it is not thought that LSD has a high potential for addiction, it can most certainly be abused in heavy amounts, and its effects can lead to dangerous circumstances. Also, LSD is frequently used in combination with other intoxicating substances, including illegal drugs and alcohol. Some users have also reported developing a psychoemotional reliance on LSD.
Any person abusing LSD or another substance should seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Just Believe Recovery offers clinically-proven programs for treating substance abuse that include essential therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, and group support.