The signs and symptoms of LSD use and abuse can be difficult to spot, particularly if the person is not currently in the middle of an LSD trip, as is the case with many hallucinogens. With acid and other hallucinogens, there can be the tendency to see behaviors as you would with addictions to alcohol or other drugs. For example, the person might seem to be lying or exhibiting behaviors of manipulation. There can also be a sense of disorganization or chaos in the individual’s life, and if you see someone who is experiencing a current LSD trip, they aren’t going to be able to carry on a meaningful conversation or engage in their everyday activities.

Signs of LSD Abuse

The signs of LSD abuse depend on the stage the person is currently in. If you’re wondering how does someone act on LSD/behavioral signs of LSD users when they’re actually on the drug and experiencing a trip, physical symptoms can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Disruption in everyday life and functionality
  • Extreme sweating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased body temperature

These initial physical symptoms can be some of the first signs of LSD abuse. However, since LSD is a hallucinogen, you can also see some of the first signs of LSD abuse or LSD addiction behavior by looking at the person’s actions. LSD is an unpredictable drug, and LSD addiction behavior can reflect this, with common signs of abuse that include:

  • Poor judgement
  • Poor decision-making abilities
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Impacted sense of time and space
  • Highly emotional
  • Overly empathetic
  • Elated emotions
  • Loss of memory
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Paranoia

Any of these psychological symptoms can happen not only during an LSD trip but also following the use of the drug. LSD is a drug that impacts the user’s serotonin, which is why so many of the behavioral signs of LSD are emotion-based. At the time a person is experiencing a trip, they can experience some or even all of the above emotions and psychological symptoms within a short period of time.

When a person starts not just to use LSD recreationally but to abuse it and use it more frequently, many of their behaviors will look similar to what you would see with addiction to alcohol and other drugs. For example, the person may become obsessed with finding more LSD, which can lead them to try and manipulate the people around them to achieve that objective. Stealing may become a problem as they seek to get money to purchase LSD.

Often people who are abusing LSD may be simultaneously abusing other drugs, and they may lose interest in social activities, relationships, work and daily commitments because they are more focused on their drug use.

Related Topic: Treatment options for LSD

Physical Symptoms and Side Effects of LSD Use

LSD is a drug that affects the serotonin system of the brain. That’s why many of the physical symptoms and side effects are related to this impact on the brain’s chemistry. Since serotonin is a primary neurotransmitter, the use of acid changes the entire central nervous system. The use of this particular drug can physically affect the user in many different ways, as a result of the many areas where serotonin plays a role in the body.

Some of the potential physical symptoms and side effects of LSD use can include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Raised body temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Weakness
  • Tingling in the fingers or toes
  • Blurred vision
  • Chills
  • The inability to drive or operate machinery

These physical signs of LSD use are in addition to everything from having anxiety attacks while using the drug and even after its use, to paranoia and a general lack of motivation and cognitive function. Also, if someone has what’s called a bad trip, they may exhibit incoherent speech and even seizures.

In the short-term, the effects of LSD are usually felt around 30 to 45 minutes after the person takes the drug, and the trip or high can last anywhere from six to eight hours on average.

Long-Term Health Effects of LSD Abuse

The long-term effects of LSD use can be particularly detrimental to a user. In fact, rather than the short-term, it’s often the long-term effects of LSD on the brain that make it such a dangerous drug.

First, people who are regular LSD users can start to develop social problems. They may feel like they can’t function in social situations without using LSD, and then they continue to take it to recreate their feelings and emotions they have during a trip. Also, there is a tendency by heavy LSD users to feel that their life isn’t going well if they’re not using the drug.

Since LSD affects the serotonin system of the brain, this also leads to problems in emotional functioning and stability over time. With continued use of acid, users may experience extreme anxiety or enter into a severe depression. Since using LSD effects sleep patterns, this can make these symptoms even worse. Eventually, there is research that shows that a pervasive use of LSD can lead people to experience suicidal tendencies, and they may eventually act on them.

Other long-term effects of LSD on the brain can include:

  • Flashbacks: One of the most common short and long-term effects of LSD are flashbacks. A flashback is an extreme hallucination that can occur years after the last time a person took the drug.
  • Hallucinogen Persistent Perception Disorder: Also called HPPD, this is a severe problem that can be debilitating and leads to continual hallucinations long after a person has actually taken any LSD.
  • Mood Disorders: Mood disorders including depression or bipolar disorder are more common in LSD users.
  • Delusions: When people regularly use LSD they can start to believe things that aren’t real.
  • Difficulty with Reality: People often experience difficulty with reality as well as problems with critical thinking ability in the short-term when they’re coming off their LSD high, but this can persist in the long-term as well.
  • Memory: In addition to general cognition problems and a sense of confusion, memory loss can be another potential long-term effect of using LSD, particularly for people who use it frequently.

LSD Overdose

A common question many people have is can you overdose on LSD? The simplest answer is yes, it is possible to overdose on LSD, although LSD overdose deaths where this is the only drug that plays a role are uncommon.

First, LSD toxicity occurs when the dosage levels a person takes of the drug are too high for the body to metabolize. This is a big concern with LSD because while it’s not considered a physically addictive drug, the user’s brain develops a tolerance for it quickly. When tolerance levels increase, the user will take larger doses in most cases to continue the desired effects, which is why there is the potential to overdose on LSD.

Overdose symptoms associated with LSD can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Very elevated blood pressure
  • Chills
  • Muscle shakes or tremors
  • Extremely dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • High body temperature
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Brain bleeding
  • Respiratory failure

One of the reasons overdose and LSD overdose deaths can occur is because it can take up to 90 minutes for this drug to have an effect on the person taking it, and in that period they may take more doses to achieve the desired trip effect. Also important to consider when answering the question “can you overdose on LSD” is the fact that dosage amounts are inconsistent, so users don’t know how much they’re taking in many cases.

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.