LSD Withdrawal & Detox

LSD is a very different drug than most others. The user of LSD isn’t going to experience the physical cravings they would with a drug like heroin or cocaine, and the reason is that acid doesn’t necessarily replace chemicals in the brain which contribute to physical dependency or addiction.

As a result, the detox and withdrawal experiences with LSD are also distinctive from most other drugs. Much of the detox and withdrawal experience with acid and even other hallucinogens is more psychological than anything else. When detoxing from acid and other hallucinogens, the user faces a struggle, but it’s mental and emotional more than physical, so treating someone who abuses LSD is unique.

As noted, LSD isn’t a drug that’s considered physically addictive. What this means is that while it’s a potentially powerful drug with very serious mental and physical effects, the brain doesn’t become physically addicted to its presence. When someone abuses LSD, it’s typically a psychological dependency more than anything else, which is what the withdrawal symptoms are related to.

First, when a person starts to use LSD and they like the way the trips make them feel, they may develop a strong interest in recreating this feeling time and time again. There is the tendency to become more focused on trips than in real life, and that desire to continue these feelings leads to a tolerance of LSD, which then leads to the need for higher doses to achieve the same impact. With an unpredictable drug like LSD, this can be incredibly dangerous.

When someone takes LSD, they often feel highly emotional and insightful, and they can feel as if they’re super-human. A trip can last as long as 12 hours in some cases, and as the person is coming off the drug, they might start to experience emotional and sleep disturbances, including anxiety and depression.

These are important things to keep in mind when gaining an understanding of withdrawal symptoms. When someone is having a withdrawal from LSD, they’re not likely to experience physical pain, sweating, nausea and vomiting as they might with other drugs, but instead, they may have strong emotions or the desire to take more LSD from a psychological standpoint.

Some of the primary symptoms of LSD withdrawal that may be experienced, particularly by people who have taken high doses of the drugs frequently include:

  • Anxiety: People may feel a general sense of anxiety, or when they’re withdrawing from LSD their anxiety may be specifically surrounding their use of the drug and it’s potential impact on their brain or their health.
  • Lack of Concentration: When someone stops their use of LSD it can be difficult to concentrate, and it can take several weeks for a normal level of attention to be regained.
  • Confusion: One of the most common signs of LSD withdrawal is a sense of confusion. It can be difficult to separate real life from your hallucinations, and it can take several days for your cognitive function to return to normal.
  • Depersonalization: This is a word that refers to the altered sense of reality LSD users often experience, including after they’ve taken their last dose of the drug. It can be difficult for the person to distinguish between reality and the experience of their trip, so depersonalization can be part of that transition as they stop using the drug.
  • Flashbacks: Flashbacks are episodes where someone who previously used LSD starts to experience things they did during their trips, including the emotions and the hallucinations. This is common to experience during withdrawal.

These are just a few of the things that may be present as someone withdrawals from LSD, particularly if they’ve recently used the drug and enter a detox or treatment program immediately following that usage. These psychological withdrawal symptoms often go away after a period of days or week. Physical withdrawal symptoms aren’t usually present for LSD users.

You can theoretically withdraw from LSD cold turkey, but with the associated emotional and mental disturbances that can occur, it can often be best to seek professional help in managing the resulting effects.

Also, many people wonder, can you die from LSD withdrawal? The answer is generally no since there aren’t physical withdrawal symptoms, but death could occur inadventently as the result of side effects like anxiety or suicidal thoughts that could change the behavior of the user.

If someone takes LSD and they’re wondering what the LSD withdrawal peak would be, some specific factors affect withdrawal. The factors that affect withdrawal with LSD can include the following:

  • First is how long the person was taking LSD. This is important because it can determine not only how psychologically dependent they may be on the drug, but also the level of tolerance they’ve built up for it.
  • How often the person was taking the drug is also relevant, as is the amount they were taking.
  • Finally, it’s also pertinent to consider the person’s state of mind at the time. Are they currently in the middle of a trip and moving into a detox period, or has it been a few days since their last exposure?

In general, the LSD timeline regarding not just withdrawal but also overall usage can look something like this:

  • Within about 10 minutes of ingesting the drug, the user may start to feel some effects, such as a sense of euphoria.
  • After around 45 minutes after consuming LSD (or up to 90 minutes later), the person may start to experience physical symptoms. These can include a rapid heart rate, as well as nausea and vomiting
  • Around an hour after ingesting LSD is the onset of the visual hallucinations. Many people say they see colorful dots and pixelated visuals at this point.
  • Around 90 minutes after taking the drug, these effects intensify.
  • The peak of hallucinations is around three hours after taking LSD.
  • The user will often start to experience reality again after about five hours, and after about 10 hours the LSD effects should be gone.
  • After around 16 hours the drug effects should be entirely gone.

After this point, flashbacks and other emotional disturbances can occur for days, weeks, months or even years.

There is no set time for LSD withdrawal or specific LSD withdrawal medication options, and many people particularly if they’re first-time or infrequent users, may experience no withdrawal symptoms at all. For some people, during the withdrawal experience from LSD, there may be symptoms similar to schizophrenia and paranoia.

Everyone’s brain is different, which is why there are so many different experiences with the use of LSD and withdrawal from it.

LSD Withdrawal
With many addictive drugs, there are often medications that can be given to someone during their detox and withdrawal periods to ease the symptoms and help their body better cope at least with the physical discomfort they may be facing. These medicines work because many drugs, such as heroin, are physically addictive, meaning that when coming off them the body reacts poorly in response to not having a substance it has come to feel it needs.

This is not the case with LSD withdrawal since it’s not physically addictive. The withdrawal peak and overall withdrawal experience with LSD are different from other drugs. First, the withdrawal peak can refer to a variety of time periods. If the person attempts to detox while they’re still feeling the effects of taking the drug, the LSD withdrawal peak can actually refer to the peak of their high. LSD can stay in the system for up to 29 hours after the last dose a person takes in some instances, which is why withdrawal might be experienced before the drug is completely out of their system.

Once the effects of LSD have worn off, however, the person may still experience effects such as hallucinations and flashbacks for anywhere from a few hours to a few months. LSD is a drug that impacts the serotonin in the brain, and since everyone has a different brain chemistry, the withdrawal peak and overall experience are similarly different for everyone.

There aren’t specific LSD withdrawal medication options, although if you are under medical supervision during withdrawal, you might be given medications such as antidepressants or other medications that can help alleviate the psychological symptoms you’re experiencing. By taking drugs to help your mental state, you can then start to normalize, and you can begin moving toward recovery.

LSD withdrawal medication can be particularly important if the person is experiencing symptoms of psychosis or suicidal thoughts. These symptoms are most prevalent among very frequently and heavy users of LSD, although they are rare.

Often people will find that they’ve become frustrated with their life as a result of their use of LSD. They feel like LSD takes over their life and it becomes their center of focus. Many people will start to feel as if they can’t function socially without LSD and they always crave the experience they get from using it. They also may feel like they’re moving toward feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, depression or even paranoia as the result of long-term and frequent use, which is why they may decide LSD medical detox and treatment are the right options for them.

For someone who feels like they can’t deal with the LSD detox symptoms on their own, particularly the most severe psychological symptoms, they may opt to instead turn to a medical detox program as the best way to detox from LSD. At a medical detox center, a team of highly trained professionals shows patients how to detox from LSD safely.

The LSD detox protocol should be highly individualized because the effects of the drug are similarly unique for everyone. A detox center should help patients cope with first and foremost, the psychological, and if necessary, physical symptoms they’re experiencing from their use of LSD. Many patients will enter an LSD detox center while they’re still feeling the effects of the drug, so the team working at the treatment center will work to stabilize the person mentally and physically.

Some of the mental issues that may arise during an LSD detox and may be dealt with by an LSD detox protocol include anxiety attacks, increased fear sensitivity, hallucinations, severe mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and psychosis.

For people experiencing a bad trip, the LSD detox protocol could include the administration of something like diazepam or triazolam, which can help alleviate feelings such as terror and panic. There may also be the need to administer antipsychotic tranquilizers during a medical detox, although only in very serious situations where there is the potential the patient could hurt themselves or someone else.

If someone has been a long-term user of LSD and has built up a tolerance requiring they take higher doses of the drug, the best way to detox from LSD can include flushing the drug out of the body and taking steps to restore the natural chemical balance of the body and the brain.

Once the initial effects of the LSD trip are dealt with, and LSD detox symptoms are effectively managed, the patient would move on to the stages of treatment and recovery to help them stop using LSD altogether. This can include cognitive behavioral therapy and a combination of one-on-one and group therapy, as well as the teaching of various coping mechanisms that can help in social situations and everyday life.

Many people wonder whether they should undergo a medical detox or a home detox. With LSD this may depend on the individual. For someone who’s used LSD very occasionally, they may be able to do a home detox, but often there are underlying mental issues or co-addictions that can occur with LSD, which is why a medical detox might be the best option.

LSD Detox
(Daily, 2015)
(Humphreys, n.d.)

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