LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), or acid, is a popular psychedelic drug used for its mind-altering, hallucinogenic properties. It’s most popular among teenagers and young adults but can be used by anyone. LSD is a synthetic drug derived from the ergot fungus that interacts with the body by binding to serotonin receptors, producing a cross-activation between receptors with no added serotonin production.
Effects include intensified sensations, hallucinations, delusions, and heightened alertness. The average high or “trip” can last anywhere between 4-14 hours. Other effects can include the following:
- Visual distortions
- Altered sensory experience, such as enhanced colors
- Synesthesia (e.g., “seeing” sounds)
- Sensation of slowed time
- Visualization of geometric or colored patterns
Although LSD is considered one of the least risky drugs from a physiological perspective, it’s a powerful psychoactive substance that can produce long-term mental health issues.
The specific effects of LSD can differ widely between users, partly because its impact is based on how well LSD can bind to serotonin receptors and also because the substance itself varies considerably in terms of potency, dosage, and overall quality due to LSD’s unregulated production and distribution. Moreover, some users may experience euphoria and relatively pleasant hallucinations while others might having a terrible experience or “bad trip.”
LSD use can result in several short-term symptoms, most often euphoria and visual and auditory hallucinations. Many users will also experience the following:
- Increased blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Elevated heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Tremors and shaking
- Fever and sweating
- Paranoia or anxiety
- Detachment from reality
Many users experience significant differences between one trip and another. One dose of LSD can cause feelings of elation, and another can lead to terrifying hallucinations. Over the short term, LSD is not considered toxic, although users are mentally impaired while under its influence and may be more open to suggestion.
Long-Term Effects of LSD
While LSD is not considered chemically addictive and poses a lower risk for abuse and emotional dependence than many other illegal drugs, regular use can lead to tolerance. Tolerance, in rare cases, can provoke addiction-like behavior and sensory or emotional blunting, which occurs when a user becomes more accustomed to how they feel while under the substance than they do when sober. Therefore, the sensory and emotional input experienced while the user is abstinent feels blunted or dull compared to experiencing a high.
Long-term users may encounter the following:
- Lack of motivation
- High tolerance
- Extreme anxiety
- Panic attacks
Unfortunately, users with co-existing mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD, are much more likely to experience adverse mental states from taking LSD.
The risks that result from long-term LSD use are mostly psychological, and users may experience worsened anxiety, mood swings, panic attacks, and paranoia in the weeks and months following excessive LSD use. Fortunately, however, getting clean usually results in the mitigation of most symptoms.
What Are Flashbacks?
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), also referred to as flashbacks, is a condition in which the person who used LSD or other powerful hallucinogenic drug re-experiences a trip weeks or months after it occurred. This can be unsettling, but HPPD has not been associated with any significant physical or neurological damage and is relatively uncommon.
In the rare event of an overdose, users of LSD take excessive amounts of the substance to the point of being life-threatening and warranting hospitalization. In addition, individuals experiencing an LSD overdose can have an elevated heart rate and blood pressure and develop hyperthermia (over-heating).
LSD Abuse and Treatment
LSD use comes with some risks, just like other illicit drugs, but due to minimal side effects and the lack of habit-forming potential, many users who take LSD assume it’s entirely safe. However, they may experience emotional blunting, be more apt to put themselves in risky situations when high, and lose interest in real-life events.
If you or a person you are close to is using LSD, treatment is available. LSD is not physically addictive, but it can still lead to behaviors and problems that require medical assistance, therapy, counseling, and group support to get clean and maintain abstinence long-term.
Just Believe Recovery Center offers comprehensive, evidence-based treatment programs facilitated by professional medical and mental health staff who specialize in addiction. We aim to equip those we treat with the support, education, and tools they need to recover and reclaim the satisfying and healthy lives they deserve!