LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), also commonly known as “acid,” is a powerful hallucinogen that’s known for its long-lasting and unpredictable psychedelic effects. It can take a little over a day for LSD to completely leave the body, but the psychological side effects go beyond a “bad trip”. They can last a lifetime.

There used to be a myth that once LSD was ingested, it stayed in your spinal cord for the rest of your life.  After testing this theory, the opposite was proven: most of the drug leaves the system once it clears from the blood. Studies have shown that 50% of the drug actually leaves the body less than five hours after ingesting it. However, for the rest of it to clear, it can take between 15.13 and 28.05 hours to exit the system completely.

Let’s take a look at what an LSD trip is like, how long LSD stays in your system, and what drug tests can detect LSD use.

Article at a Glance:

  • It can take 15.13 to 28.05 hours for LSD to completely exit the body.
  • A normal LSD trip can last from six to 12 hours.
  • LSD does not show up on most mainstream drug tests.
  • There are certain drug tests that specifically detect LSD.
  • It is possible to have lingering schizophrenic thoughts, intense fear, depression, chronic sleeplessness, and other symptoms days after taking LSD.

How long does an LSD “trip” last?

When taking LSD, the “trip” normally lasts anywhere from six to twelve hours depending on the individual’s body weight, age, dosage, tolerance, genetic makeup, liver health, metabolic rate and stomach pH. It also depends on the frequency of their usage, as individuals can build up a tolerance to LSD, such as the case with other drugs.

When first ingesting the drug, it takes anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours to begin feeling its effects. After that, it takes about 35 minutes for it to reach its peak.

LSD effects: What does acid do to you?

Users may experience various hallucinations and “out of body” experiences that can vary from positive to negative. Some have deeply spiritual and life-changing realizations, and others become completely terrified of what they’re experiencing (also known as a “bad trip”).

After ingesting the drug, users tend to experience the erasing of normal filters or screens that their brains typically have on guard. When these are taken down, the outside world is “expanded.” A tremendous amount of information rushes to the brain.

Suddenly, users are exposed to everything that their brain normally filters out, including auditory, visual, emotional or sensory cues. Multiple factors, such as the people you’re with and the physical setting you’re in, can impact the feelings produced from your trip.

Related Topic: The Most Powerful Psychedelic Drug

Does LSD Show Up On A Drug Test?

It’s important to know that LSD does not show up in any mainstream drug tests. This means that if someone gets tested by the government or by an employer, there will not be evidence that he or she ingested LSD. Because people feel the LSD’s effects from such a small amount, it’s nearly impossible for your average urine test to detect it.

However, if an employer, probation officer, or another relevant person has reason to believe that someone took LSD, then they have the right to have him/her take a test that specifically tracks LSD. Those two tests are called Abuscreen and EMIT. Abuscreen screens everything, from blood, serum, urine and stomach contents. On the other hand, EMIT is a series of tests that check most of the same bodily areas.

Other FAQ about LSD

What is acid?

LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is a recreational drug intended to give users a psychedelic or “spiritual” experience. Known as being one of the least addictive drugs, LSD is currently being tested for various medical uses, such as a cure for alcoholism, pain management, anxiety and more. Today, however, LSD is considered a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that it has no accepted medical use and is illegal to take it.

What are the psychological and physical side effects of LSD withdrawal?

When the high begins to wear down, the recovery process usually takes up to several days. During the time period when the LSD is still in your system, users typically experience:

  • Enhanced anxiety
  • Concentration problems
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Intense fear
  • Flashbacks
  • Thoughts of suicide

Physical withdrawal symptoms are uncommon after chronic LSD use. Tolerance for LSD does not last long and is lost if the person stops using it for a few days.

How does acid affect the brain?

It’s also common for users to become scared of losing brain cells during this time. They can struggle with memory retrieval and cognition. Users often experience flashbacks that had been buried for years, which can scare the user and feel that he or she is “going crazy.”

Sometimes, they’re not entirely wrong. Symptoms of schizophrenia are commonly seen in people coming down from an LSD trip. They sometimes begin to start hearing voices and seeing things, thinking that someone is out to kill them, and experiencing other various paranoias associated with psychosis. Because of this, some studies have suggested that LSD and schizophrenia are related.

How does acid affect the body?

Although those symptoms are primarily mental, users will often physically experience:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Extreme changes in body temperature
  • Sweating or chills
  • A loss of appetite
  • Sleeplessness
  • Tremors
Are there long-term effects of LSD?

Although the drug does eventually leave the system, some users experience its side effects for the rest of their lives. Since many users cannot stand the feeling of LSD withdrawal, they choose to take significantly larger doses to rid themselves of the negative emotions. This is extremely dangerous since large LSD doses of more than 400 mcg have been reported to result in life-threatening toxicity. When taking the drug again, users risk extreme overeating, sudden heart failure, and accidents caused by severe impairment.

Thinking about taking acid?

Although taking LSD is known for being a “fun” and care-free drug that won’t leave you addicted, it’s clear that its short- and long-term effects aren’t worth the trauma you’re risking. Although you will experience a high for six to twelve hours, the drug will linger in your system for days after that, putting you at risk for lasting schizophrenic thoughts, intense fear and depression, complete confusion, chronic sleeplessness, an imbalance in body temperature and tremors.

If you have found yourself testing positive for LSD, it may be a sign that you need help. Contact us today to learn more about how our individualized treatment programs can start you on your sober journey and set you up with the tools to be successful in life after rehab.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Kevin Wandler, MD
Kevin Wandler holds multiple positions at Advanced Recovery Systems. In addition to being the founding and chief medical director at Advanced Recovery Systems, he is also the medical director at The Recovery Village Ridgefield and at The Recovery Village Palmer Lake. Read more

Dolder, Patrick, et al. “Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of[…]in Healthy Subjects.” Clinical Pharmacokinetics, 2017. Accessed June 20, 2020.

De Gregorio, Danilo; et al. “d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) as a […]on and Pharmacology.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, November 2016. Accessed June 20, 2020.

Hwang, Kristine Anne; Saadabadi, Abdolreza. “Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).” StatPearls, April 21, 2020. Accessed June 20, 2020.

Passie, Torsten; et al. “The pharmacology of lysergic acid diethylamide: a review.” CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, Winter 2008. Accessed June 20, 2020.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Do Hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybin, P[…] the Brain and Body?” June 2, 2020. Accessed June 20, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.