LSD Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, Withdrawal Risks & Treatment
Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD for short is a hallucinogen that triggers hallucinations and alters feelings and perception. LSD abuse carries many serious physical and psychological health risks, and can lead to addiction when left untreated.
Understanding LSD Abuse
LSD, which is also commonly known by its street name of “Acid,” is a colorless, odorless liquid applied to candy, sugar cubes, and blotter paper. LSD is consumed orally, and synthetically derived from a type of fungus called ergot that grows on rye and other grains.
LSD produces hallucinations, delusions, and synesthesia — the crossover of senses, such as “hearing” colors and “seeing” sounds. LSD users may experience heightened spiritual awareness and an altered sense of time and reality. These effects are caused by the way LSD interferes with serotonin — a brain chemical that regulates bodily functions including your mood, sensory perception, and hunger.
LSD is commonly used for recreation due to the way it alters perception and reality and triggers hallucinations. The effects of LSD can be felt within 20 minutes of using the drug, and can last for up to 12 hours. When used in high doses, LSD increases your heart rate, and can lead to nausea and vomiting.
Those who use LSD may abuse the drug simply to experience its hallucinogenic effects, or to escape real-life problems or underlying mental health conditions such as depression. Over time, LSD use can turn into addiction, and interfere with your overall quality of life. Long-term LSD use also carries several health risks that can lead to major health problems down the road.
Signs and Symptoms of LSD Abuse
Signs of LSD abuse are often relatively easy to spot, due to the way this drug interferes with your state of mind. For instance, you or your loved one may exhibit extreme changes in personality, along with physical symptoms that indicate drug use.
Common signs and symptoms of LSD abuse include:
- Dilated pupils
- Changes in appetite
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid breathing
- Loss of coordination
- Synesthesia, or mixed senses
- Feelings of detachment from self and environment
- Changes in personality
- Spiritual experiences
- Distorted perceptions
- Feelings of panic
Dangers & Risk Factors Associated with LSD Abuse
LSD use increases your risk for physical and psychological health problems. Though LSD carries little to no risk for physical dependence, certain side effects of LSD can increase your risk for serious health problems. For instance, LSD causes a rise in blood pressure, which increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, and dementia.
When used long-term, LSD can cause users to experience intense flashbacks of other times they used acid in the past. These flashbacks can sometimes be unpleasant, especially when flashbacks are linked to negative, violent, or traumatizing past experiences. LSD-induced flashbacks can occur without warning anywhere between a few days and several years after drug use.
LSD use also increases your risk for mental health conditions including depression and schizophrenia due to the way this hallucinogen interferes with serotonin and brain activity. LSD users are highly prone to suffering persistent psychosis, which is a series of ongoing mental health problems including paranoia and sudden changes in mood.
Who’s At Risk of LSD Abuse & Addiction?
You may at risk for LSD abuse and addiction if you require certain doses of the drug to feel “normal” or like yourself. You may also be at risk for LSD addiction if you use the drug to escape the real world, or to self-medicate for symptoms of chronic stress and depression.
Common risk factors for LSD abuse and addiction include:
- Having regular access to LSD
- Spending time with people who use LSD
- Having a personal history of drug abuse or addiction
- Having a family history of drug abuse or addiction
- Having a history of trauma or abuse
- Suffering from one or more mental health disorders
- Being surrounded by negative influences at home
- Having problems with work, school, or relationships
If you or your loved one is at risk for LSD abuse or addiction, your next step is to seek help in the form of addiction treatment. LSD addiction treatment can help you quit using LSD and teach you how to live a healthier, more fulfilling life without the need for substances.
LSD is not physically addictive — meaning its users can generally quit using the substance without experiencing cravings or physical withdrawal symptoms. However, LSD abuse can trigger a psychological addiction in those who use the drug to chase ongoing euphoria and hallucinogenic effects. Psychological addiction can lead to unusually risky behavior, while high doses of LSD increase your risk for serious health problems.
LSD addiction increases the risk for more frequent flashbacks, since there are higher incidences of drug use. These flashbacks can be triggered by factors such as stress, fatigue, and the use of other drugs, and can be difficult to manage without psychological addiction treatment. LSD can also be the gateway drug to alcohol and other drugs that may carry a significantly higher risk for physical dependence and addiction.
Am I Addicted to LSD?
When you’re coping with addiction, it can be difficult to determine whether you truly have a problem until it’s too late. Addiction can cause problems with your career, education, and family life, and even lead to problems with the law since LSD is an illicit substance.
If you’re using LSD and think you might have a problem with addiction, ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you should seek help.
- Am I neglecting important life responsibilities to use, obtain, or recover from LSD?
- Am I using LSD to mask or escape feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety?
- Am I making excuses to use LSD?
- Am I using LSD to self-medicate one or more mental health conditions?
- Am I using LSD with alcohol and other drugs?
- Am I having problems quitting LSD?
- Am I still using LSD despite existing health problems?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be addicted to LSD. Your next step is to speak with a drug abuse counselor about local addiction treatment centers that can help.
LSD Addiction Treatment Options
LSD addiction treatment often consists of counseling, support, and other therapies that effectively address psychological aspects of addiction. Since LSD is not physically addictive, its users do not usually need detoxification or withdrawal therapy. However, if patients are using LSD with other substances, they may require detoxification to overcome physical dependency on those substances.
Addiction counseling is often conducted individually, in groups, and with families. These counseling sessions are aimed at identifying root causes of addiction, and helping patients overcome or manage these root causes. For example, if you started using LSD to escape work-related stress, counseling can teach you healthier, more effective ways to cope with stress that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.
Counseling also teaches you how to recognize certain triggers and situations that could lead to LSD use. For instance, if you run into friends who still use LSD, the skills you learn from behavioral counseling teaches you how to refuse LSD or separate yourself from the situation to avoid relapsing.
Detoxification is an addiction treatment commonly used to help recovering addicts overcome physical dependency on alcohol and other substances. Detox allows you to withdraw from drugs and alcohol in a safe, controlled medical environment surrounded by caring staff devoted to making withdrawal as comfortable as possible.
LSD addiction usually doesn’t require detox, unless you’ve been using LSD with alcohol and other substances. Detox may involve the use of medications that reduce or eliminate cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For instance, if you’re addicted to LSD and also abuse opioids, you may be prescribed buprenorphine — a drug that treats physical dependence on opioids.
Some detox treatments use natural or holistic remedies instead of prescription medications. Nutrition therapy, exercise therapy, and massage therapy are examples of detox treatments that naturally help cleanse your body of alcohol and substances. Detox is often the first stage of addiction treatment, and helps you achieve improved health and mental clarity prior to receiving counseling and support.
Drug rehab centers offer all the treatments you or your loved one needs to successfully overcome LSD addiction as a whole. The best drug rehab centers will tailor addiction treatments for you based on your unique struggle and history with addiction. After completing addiction treatment, you’ll be armed with the knowledge and confidence you need to navigate the real world without the need for LSD or other substances.
Your stay at drug rehab can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on how long you need to overcome addiction to LSD. For instance, if you’ve been abusing LSD for several years, you may need at least six months in which to overcome psychological addiction to this substance. On the other hand, if you’re feeling especially motivated and dedicated to achieving lifelong sobriety from LSD, you may only need 30 days in which to recover.
Most addiction treatment centers offer aftercare programs designed to help you stay sober for life following rehab. These aftercare programs consist of ongoing support groups, counseling, and education. Twelve-step support groups like Narcotics Anonymous allow you to bond with fellow recovering addicts who share similar struggles, and teach you tips and tricks for avoiding relapse and staying sober in the outside world.
The staff at your drug rehab center will help you choose a treatment plan that works best for you. Our caring drug abuse counselors are also on standby 24/7 to answer all your questions about LSD addiction treatments and to help you find nearby rehab centers.