LSD (Acid) Misuse: Effects, Risks & Addiction
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) is a drug that can alter a person’s mood, thoughts, and perceptions.1 Classified as a hallucinogen, it was originally used as a therapeutic treatment but became a substance of abuse in the 1960s.2 LSD misuse rose 200% from 2002 to 2018.3
This page will discuss the risks of LSD use, including the potential for overdose, dependence, and addiction.
What Is Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)?
LSD, or acid, is a potent synthetic hallucinogen.2 Accidentally synthesized in the 1940s by a Swedish scientist for scientific study, LSD was used temporarily as a treatment for psychological disorders, but it was not successful.in this regard. Its recreational use peaked during the counterculture movement of the 1960s.
LSD came to be known by other names in counterculture, including:4
- Blotter Acid.
- Mellow Yellow.
- Window Pane.
LSD, commonly referred to as acid, is now classified as a Schedule I substance due to its high potential for abuse and lack of any accepted medical use.5 It is illegal to manufacture, possess, distribute, process, buy, or administer LSD.6 For the last several decades, this illegal hallucinogen has been manufactured for use in secret laboratories.4
People who use acid take it orally as a tablet, sometimes referred to as a “micro dot,” or a capsule.6 Other forms of acid include saturated absorbent paper called blotter paper that is divided into small squares and typically decorated, saturated sugar cubes, and liquid.7 In its original form, it is bitter-tasting with no odor or color.7
Effects of LSD
The effects of LSD can vary from person-to-person, depending on the amount of LSD used, psychological environment, and other physical or psychological conditions. 6Acid effects are unpredictable and have the potential to create euphoria in one person and despair in another.6 A person could experience a spectrum of both positive and negative effects all in one use.6
Generally speaking, the effects of acid begin with 30 to 60 minutes and can last up to 12 hours.6
The most associated effects of LSD are “trips” or visual, auditory, and sensory perceptual effects. They can include:2
- Visual distortions in the size, shape, movement, color, sound, and touch of objects.
- Distortions of body image.
- Feelings of strong insight.
- Distortion of time.
- Feeling detached from one’s body.
LSD use also has other effects, which include:2
- Dilated pupils.
- Dry mouth.
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Profuse sweating.
- Loss of appetite.
- Intensified emotions.
- Dramatic mood swings.
- Impaired attention.
- Decreased concentration and motivation
LSD (Acid) Risks & Dangers
LSD use comes with significant risks and dangers. The potency of LSD can vary drastically from one batch to another, making it difficult to predict the effects that a person will experience. These risks include:
- Experiencing a “bad trip” which is characterized by intense anxiety, paranoia, and panic that can potentially result in self-harm or dangerous behavior.2
- Exacerbating pre-existing mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia or mood disorders, and physical health conditions, such as epilepsy.6
- Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). Long-term use may lead to individuals experiencing flashbacks and visual disturbances long after the drug’s effects have worn off.8
Can You Overdose on LSD?
It is possible to overdose on LSD, though LSD overdose is different from how overdose may present with other drugs. An overdose on LSD may occur when larger doses are consumed, and the result may be a longer and more intense “trip.”4 A person may experience severe psychological harm that is long-lasting and may be more at risk for dangerous behavior and injuries due to their severe impairment in perception.1,4
Death due to fatal overdose is rare with LSD.1 Fatalities involving LSD use have been linked to the concurrent use of alcohol and other drugs.1
Is LSD (Acid) Addictive?
LSD does not cause physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms – two of the hallmarks of addiction – and is not considered addictive. However, LSD can lead to psychological dependence, wherein individuals may develop a strong desire to use LSD repeatedly to experience its hallucinogenic effects.6
Does LSD Have Withdrawal Symptoms?
There are not typically any withdrawal symptoms associated with LSD use, but some adverse symptoms can be experienced after the effects of the drug wear off. Once the effects of an LSD trip have dissipated, a person may experience intense fatigue, anxiety, and depression for up to 24 hours after use.2
Treating Hallucinogen Use Disorder at AdCare
Treatment for hallucinogen use disorder is available at AdCare in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are different levels of care for dependence on LSD or other drugs, including detox, outpatient, inpatient rehab, and residential treatment.