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LSD Addiction | Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

LSD is a drug that gained popularity in the underground hippy subculture of the 1960s and started an entire movement of peace and love. The individuals who used the drug did so to take a trip that made coping with reality easier. While LSD is not physically addictive, it can cause a strong physical dependency that is accompanied by tolerance and some withdrawal symptoms. It is common that a bad trip is the only reason someone stops using the drug, but this bad trip is something that could be deadly. 

LSD addiction is not as common as other addictions, but it still occurs. The drug is widely popular in underground clubs and raves. Ecstasy and PCP (phencyclidine) are more likely to be found in this setting, but LSD is still prevalent in the rave scene. Taking the drug results in an LSD trip that includes visions and sensation accompanied by strong hallucinations. The person under the influence can believe with certainty that what they are seeing is real, but that is not the case and has caused situations where people jump to their deaths from buildings, thinking they can fly and won’t get hurt.

What makes LSD so hard to stop for those who swear by it? It brings those stuck in reality an escape and allows them to process their world in ways that are spiritual and life-changing. The problem is that a dose can be unpredictable, and at any moment, someone can be set off and have a bad trip. LSD use is not enjoyable for everyone, and it usually magnifies problems already present in a person’s life. It could lead users to feel stuck in a loop of thoughts and wondering if it’ll ever go away. As a result, it could end in suicide. 

What Is LSD?

LSD is the abbreviated name for lysergic acid diethylamide, and it is an illegal psychedelic drug that causes a change in the user’s mood and perception of reality. There are many street names for the drug such as acid, blotter, booms, tabs, and yellow sunshine, among many others. It often causes experiences to seem real but are not, and it causes delusions, hallucinations, and mood swings.

Those under the influence of LSD are impaired in how they think, which can lead to poor decisions. These hallucinations can cause users to act in dangerous ways, and as mentioned earlier, can lead to self-harm or hurting someone else. These accidents can be fatal.

LSD is a naturally occurring substance. It is a fungus that grows on rye grain. Albert Hoffman, a Swiss pharmacology researcher, synthesized the drug in 1938, but the hallucinogenic properties were discovered later in 1943. The drug went under intense studies in the 1950s by the United States, and by the 1960s, it was widely used in hippie counterculture, leaving a lasting impression of the era.

The year 1968 is when the United States declared the substance illegal because of its widespread recreational use. These restrictions limited all testing on LSD, and the drug’s popularity dropped following the ʼ60s. The 1990s saw it emerge back onto the scene, which prompted scientists to study the drug’s effects on users.

In 2017, Newsweek published an article about scientists studying the effects of LSD, stating the hallucinogen causes the brain to enter into a higher state of consciousness. Much more research is needed to determine if this psychoactive substance can have therapeutic properties.

Effects of LSD on the Body

As with most drugs, risks will vary from one person to another, making them almost unpredictable to determine. The uncertainty is what scares most people who oppose the use of the drug. The hallucinogen can produce a number of short-term effects, and those who take it could experience a rise in blood pressure or faster heart and breathing rate. They could also experience:

  • Appetite loss, reduced appetite
  • Clenched jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Goosebumps
  • Pupil dilation
  • Sleeplessness
  • Numbness
  • Mucous production
  • Saliva production
  • Overactive, over-responsive reflexes (known as hyperreflexia)
  • Tremors (shakiness)
  • Weakness

Effects of LSD on the Mind

There are short-term effects on the person who consumes the drug which could range from their mood to the perception about the world. The most common effect is visual hallucinations and illusions that are mostly psychological. The trips after consumption can occur in as little as 20 minutes to a half hour, but if taken intravenously can be felt much sooner.

The sensation can peak within three to four hours after ingestion and last anywhere from eight to 12 hours. Those who have a “good trip” report a euphoric state, pleasure, and a disconnection from reality. There are also reports of losing a sense of time and a lack of focus, and visuals that occur with the eyes open or closed. Others report life-changing experiences as well as ones that promote a sense of connectedness with one another or with nature. It is common to hear someone describe seeing vibrant colors, shapes, and patterns.

Not all who use LSD will experience a positive trip and may deal with much more intense adverse side effects, which can be followed by anxiety, paranoia, irrationality, mood swings, and suicidal thoughts. Some studies, however, have pointed to this being rare. 

Can LSD Cause Psychosis?

Those with underlying mental health disorders are at more significant risk when taking mind-altering drugs like LSD, and it can lead them to develop serious psychological issues. Some may use the drug to escape their mental illness, but this is dangerous and can cause long-lasting damage that can’t be repaired. Behavior related to mind-altering substances can make it more challenging to determine symptoms of mental health disorders. The disorders that are most at risk of being exacerbated by LSD are an antisocial personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. 

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While the relief may be temporary, the long-term repercussions can make the person act out as a result of the personality changes and mood swings that can create strained relationships, finances, or other issues such as legal problems.

These can all lead to someone needing to get help. Sometimes it’s possible to start spiraling out of control without even realizing it’s happening. An addiction to LSD is less common, but it does undoubtedly occur. With that, it’s necessary to get the help needed to prevent any of the adverse effects from happening. It only takes one bad trip to change the trajectory of your life negatively, and getting help immediately can change it for the better.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to LSD, Ocean Breeze Recovery can help you start taking the right steps toward a healthy tomorrow. Our goal is to provide the highest quality treatment that allows our clients to feel positive about the decision they made. Our services include a partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient treatment. We also offer medical detox and residential treatment at our sister facility, Arete Recovery.

Call 844-554-9279 now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about which of our treatment programs is best for you or your loved one. You can also contact us online for more information and start your journey to recovery. 


TMJ4, T. (2017, July 06). Man on LSD jumped off Milwaukee building to his death. Retrieved from

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018, May 5) MedlinePlus. Substance use – LSD. Retrieved from

The Lancet. (2008, JUne 28) Albert Hofmann. Oransky, I. Retrieved from

Newsweek. (2017, April 19) Psychedelic Drugs: The Brain Enters a 'Higher State of Consciousness' on LSD and Ketamine. Osborne, H. Retrieved from

MedicalNewsToday. (2017, June 22) The effects and hazards of LSD. Effects on perception Davis, K. FNP. Retrieved from

American Psychiatric Association. (2017 January) What is Addiction? Parekh, R. Retrieved from

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