Drug Use

What is LSD?

LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), a psychedelic drug also known by the street names acid, battery acid, dots, microdots, blotter, window pane, or mellow yellow, is a synthetic hallucinogenic drug made from lysergic acid—a fungus found on rye and other grains. LSD or acid is taken for its psychotropic effects that occur during a ‘trip’.

LSD, also called lysergide, can be derived from the ergot alkaloids, constituents of the ergot (mushroom) fungus. Ergot alkaloids can produce really psychedelic effects in people who use LSD. This fungus often grows on wheat. LSD can also be found in plant parts such as Morning Glory seeds.

Some drug users use LSD and other substances for their hallucinogenic or psychedelic properties. There is a tradition of this in many cultures that goes back for centuries. Mostly hallucinogens have been used for religious ceremonies and spiritual purposes.

Other hallucinogens can be found in plants or mushrooms or their extracts. Consuming these also alters perception and produces hallucinations.

This group of drugs produces effects that include an altered sense of perception. This altered perception includes changes in the awareness of one’s surroundings as well as in thoughts and feelings. During a ‘trip’ users experience auditory as well as visual hallucinations.

LSD is not considered an addictive drug physically but can be psychologically addictive. It has been shown that tolerance can develop and the user will take more of the drug to achieve the same effects, much like with other drugs. This is a dangerous practice given the unpredictability of LSD.

How Does LSD Affect The Body?

LSD is an odorless white, clear, black, or brown powder substance. It often comes in saturated, blotter paper divided into small squares with microdots, gelatin (windowpanes), liquid form, or sugar cubes. LSD is usually consumed orally. Effects are generally felt after about 20 to 90 minutes of consumption and can last about 12 hours during which time a variety of effects can be experienced, including psychedelic effects, hallucinations, and dissociative experiences. The peak effects usually occur between two and four hours.

Research shows that LSD disrupts communication between brain chemicals and the spinal cord which results in hallucinogenic effects. Visual hallucinations cause the person taking LSD to see things that aren't there. Other drugs that have hallucinogenic effects are peyote and mescaline, Psilocybin (drugs such as magic mushrooms), and PCP. In addition to visual hallucinations from ergot alkaloids, some of the chemicals in LSD impact serotonin levels in the brain.

Side Effects of LSD

The side effects of LSD can vary depending on several factors including the dose of LSD taken, the individual’s mental health history, the current state of mind, and previous LSD experiences. There are some overall side effects that generally occur with LSD.

Short-term side effects LSD produces include:

Behavioral LSD effects

  • Feeling several emotions at once
  • Altered sense of time
  • Extreme emotional swings
  • Delusions and hallucinations; hearing, seeing and feeling things that are not there
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Intensified feelings
  • Intensified sensory experiences (for example, seeing bright colors)
  • Changes in perception of time
  • Impaired judgment
  • False sense of invincibility; heightened risk of accidents
  • “Bad trips,” or frightening highs
  • Dissociative states and wandering may occur when LSD is mixed with other drugs
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • Psychosis—schizophrenia or similar (and disordered thinking detached from reality)
  • Bizarre behavior

Physical side-effects from LSD use

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Profuse sweating
  • Numbness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss (or occasional increase) of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Sensation of tasting metal
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Excessive sweating
  • Panic

In addition to these short-term effects of LSD, there is also a danger of incurring long-lasting effects on the user. And while long-term effects don’t occur in every user they are common, concerning and unpredictable.

Long-term LSD effects can include:

  • Hallucinogen persistent perception disorder (HPPD) or flashbacks that can occur weeks or months after the initial trip.
  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder is a permanent condition in which a person who uses or used LSD continues to have visual hallucinations, even when LSD use has been terminated.
  • Persistent psychosis which is ongoing disorganized thinking, paranoia, visual distortions and disturbances, and mood swings.

These long-term LSD effects are seen more frequently in those users with a mental health condition already present. However, these conditions can occur in anyone even after using small doses of LSD, even using them one time.

Signs and Symptoms of LSD Addiction

LSD is not physically addictive but can be psychologically addictive. When it comes to signs of LSD addiction, they can be hard to discern. With addiction to LSD, it’s first important to be able to recognize the signs of LSD use as stated above. Once you know what to look for and can identify when someone is under the influence of this drug, you can begin to see if there is a substance abuse problem.

Identifying LSD addiction involves keeping track of the use of LSD or habits, including tracking the dose of LSD used. In general, there are some signs of substance use disorder that can also apply to LSD addiction.

Physical symptoms associated with the use of LSD

  • Inability to control drug use despite negative consequences
  • Weight loss or changes in weight
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unusual or change in sleeping patterns
  • Staying awake for longer periods of time or at unusual hours
  • Concentration issues
  • Dissociative episodes
  • Memory loss

Behavioral Symptoms associated with the use of LSD

  • Acting erratically or like they are out of touch with reality
  • Changes in daily life and ability to function
  • Exhibiting poor judgments
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Overly empathetic
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and activities formerly enjoyed
  • Paranoia

As with any other drug addiction, looking for changes in the individual’s normal behaviors and habits is important. With an LSD based substance abuse problem it can be hard to determine. For this reason, looking for signs that the person is continually using it is the best course of action or intervention.

LSD Withdrawal Symptoms and Indicators

LSD is not a physically addictive drug so the physical withdrawal symptoms typically thought of with other drugs are not found with LSD withdrawal. However, since it is psychologically addictive, when a person stops using LSD they can experience emotional and mental withdrawal symptoms. These LSD withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Cravings
  • Confusion
  • Distracted or unable to focus
  • Out of touch with reality

About 24 hours after the last dose of LSD is consumed the LSD user who has become psychologically addicted may begin to feel these withdrawal symptoms which can last for days, weeks, months, and in rare cases even years.

Detoxing from LSD isn’t considered medically dangerous; however, it’s very important to detox under medical supervision as the withdrawal symptoms and emotional roller coaster often accompanying detox from LSD can lead to severe depression and suicidal ideations.

What is acid?

Acid, or LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), belongs to a class of drugs called psychedelics. It is created from a fungus called ergot that infects rye. Depending on how much is taken, it can alter perception or mood or produce hallucinations. In its most common form, it is dried onto gelatin sheets, sugar cubes, or pieces of bibulous paper.

Treatment for Use of LSD

Currently, there are no medications used to treat the use of LSD. In addition, there is minimal research into whether or not behavioral therapies are helpful in treating LSD substance abuse. Preliminary research suggests that certain behavioral therapies helpful in treating other substance use issues can also be helpful for LSD addiction.

To learn more about Caron’s substance use treatment program offerings or how we can help you or your loved one who is abusing LSD, contact us today. Caron offers Comprehensive Addiction Treatment for anyone who is ready for help. Call today at 1-800-854-6023.

Continue Learning About What is LSD?

A man and a woman leaning on each other

Take the next step:

Start a conversation

Start with an online form

Contact us