Symptoms of LSD abuse

anxietyLSD, or d-lysergic acid diethylamide, is one of the most potent hallucinogenic, or mood-altering, drugs. It was originally manufactured from lysergic acid, which comes from ergot, a fungus found growing on grains such as rye.

Usually taken orally, LSD is sold in capsules, tablets, gelatin squares, and liquid form, which is sometimes absorbed onto paper that has cartoons or other drawings on it.

LSD is considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act by the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA. This means that it currently has no medicinal use in the United States, and it is illegal to possess, manufacture, or sell. Stiff penalties exist, including fines and jail time, for activities related to LSD possession. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) of 2013 estimates that approximately 9.4 percent of the population over the age of 12 has abused LSD at some point in their lifetime.

LSD is an illicit psychedelic drug often sold under street names such as:
    • Acid
    • Blotter
    • Doses
    • Battery acid
    • Hippie
    • Boomers
    • Looney toons
    • Lucy in the sky
    • Heavenly blue
    • Window pane
    • Superman
    • Yellow sunshine
    • Purple heart
    • Microdot
    • Cid
    • Tab
    • Zen
According to Brown University, LSD is the most commonly used hallucinogen, a class of drugs that cause distortions in sensations, reality, and moods.


Hallucinogens alter mood and perceptions, and LSD produces visual hallucinations as well as distorts one’s sense of self and time. In 2013, the NSDUH reported that 1.3 million Americans over the age of 12 had used a hallucinogen in the past month. A typical “trip” can last up to 12 hours, and no two people will experience it exactly the same way. Emotions and moods may swing rapidly, and feelings can be either pleasurable or negative and may even differ from use to use in the same person. LSD can sometimes cause a sort of crossover between sensations, meaning that it may cause you feel that you can hear colors or see sounds.

Researchers aren’t clear on exactly how hallucinogens, and specifically LSD, affect the brain or the central nervous system. Scientists believe that LSD may interfere with serotonin receptors, as published by the University of Bristol. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, one of the brain’s chemical messengers, which is partially responsible for helping to regulate emotions and sensory perceptions as well as sleep functions, muscle control, appetite, and sexuality. While researchers are unclear on exactly how LSD affects serotonin levels, many believe that it does so in some way, either by inhibiting, stimulating, or changing the way serotonin is processed in the brain.

LSD is an illegal drug with many potential health risks. While users may feel aroused or euphoric, they may also experience a “bad trip,” or negative emotions, and terrifying thoughts, such as despair or a fear of death, loss of control, or insanity. Side effects of LSD use may include:

  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Impulsivity
  • Numbness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaw-clenching
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Irregular breathing
  • Weakness
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperatures

The manner in which LSD affects you may be related to your previous drug experiences as well as your genetic makeup and environment. Since LSD distorts reality, life-threatening accidents may occur due to impaired judgment and perceptions. Driving a car or operating other machinery while taking LSD greatly increases these risks.

LSD abuse can also exacerbate the symptoms of mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, and may even speed up the onset of mental illness or psychosis, although LSD use does not cause mental health disorders or psychosis directly.

LSD users may experience flashbacks days, weeks, or even years after taking the drug. These can occur without warning and suddenly, and they can last a few seconds to a few hours and may mimic the original “trip.” While some may enjoy the “free trip,” many are disturbed by the flashbacks and may feel distressed, paranoid, and upset.

Hallucinogen persisting perceptive disorder (HPPD) is when these flashbacks persist and interfere with daily life. It is a diagnosable medical condition, as published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association. Symptoms include:

  • Geometric hallucinations
  • Halos surrounding objects
  • Flashes of color
  • Intensified colors
  • Peripheral vision hallucinations
  • Sense of inanimate objects being alive
  • Trails of images of moving objects
  • Macropsia (objects appear bigger than reality)
  • Micropsia (objects appear smaller than reality)
  • Afterimages

HPPD is thought to occur with chronic or long-term abuse of LSD. This chronic and long-term LSD abuse may also lead to disrupted sleep schedules, a lack of concern over personal hygiene, and a loss of interest in eating. Though the drug is generally not thought to be addictive since it does not typically induce compulsive drug-seeking behavior, LSD users may develop a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance occurs when the brain becomes used to the drug and its effects, and more of the drug will be needed each use in order to produce the same results.

It may be difficult to discern the long-term damage LSD may do as it is often taken with other drugs and/or alcohol. LSD is unpredictable on its own, and combining it with other drugs only heightens the potential risk factors and health concerns. Adding other drugs or alcohol to the mix may increase the odds of violent or psychotic episodes, for instance.

Substance abuse treatment

group supportLSD is a long-acting drug that takes time to “come down” from and may cause depression, paranoia, and panic for up to 24 hours. During this time, users may need to be taken to a safe and quiet place where they can safely detox. They need to be spoken to in a calm, reassuring, and soothing manner until the drug has completely worn off.

LSD is not generally life-threatening unless it has been mixed with other drugs or alcohol, or there is an underlying mental health disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that as many as half of all those who abuse drugs also suffer from mental illness. It can be unclear whether the drug abuse or the mental illness came first, and often drug abuse is a form of self-medication for an undiagnosed mental health disorder.

Evidence-based therapy takes into account a person’s personal and cultural preferences as well as proven scientific research and medical professionals’ clinical expertise. This type of treatment model is proving effective in treating those suffering from substance abuse and dependence. Psychotherapy, including behavioral therapy, works by helping to identify social, emotional, and environmental triggers or stressors that may lead to drug-seeking or substance-abusing behaviors. After these triggers are identified, coping mechanisms and management tools can be learned to help avoid the triggers or to successfully handle them as they occur.

The Recovery Village provides a high level of care by teams of medical professionals working together to ensure success. Therapy, counseling, and recreational opportunities are just a few of the resources The Recovery Village utilizes to facilitate recovery. Before admission, clients are given a detailed evaluation, including a nutritional assessment, in order to determine the proper level of care required. Contact an admissions counselor today to start the journey toward a healthier tomorrow.

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Symptoms of LSD Abuse was last modified: November 3rd, 2016 by The Recovery Village