Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a somewhat controversial drug because it does not produce physical addiction. Users can become psychologically dependent on the drug, depending on what they associate it with, but physical dependence is not a problem. This leads some people to use LSD under the false impression that it is not harmful.

Do you use LSD? If so, are you looking for help to stop using? Addiction Helper is here to assist you. We offer free assessments, advice and referrals to drug addicts and their families. Whether you are concerned about yourself or someone else, feel free to contact us on our 24-hour helpline. A trained counsellor will provide all the information you need to make an informed decision.

What You Need to Know about LSD

LSD is a compound that was created in a Swiss lab in 1938. The man who created it discovered its psychedelic properties in the mid-1940s, leading to the drug eventually being introduced as a commercial medication for treating certain psychiatric conditions. LSD did not become a controlled substance until abuse of the drug was found to be widespread in the 1960s.

The drug is derived from a kind of fungus that grows on wild grasses. Its main appeal for recreational use is its ability to induce hallucinations. These hallucinations can be incredibly vivid and result in a profound distortion of space, time and reality. Some regular LSD users have even reported out-of-body experiences.

Hallucinogenic episodes while on LSD are known as ‘trips’. A trip can be good or bad, depending on how you feel at the time you take it and who you are with. Trips usually start within about 20-60 minutes of taking the drug; they can last for as long as 12 hours. Unfortunately, a trip cannot be stopped once it starts. A person experiencing a particularly terrifying trip has no means of relief until the drug has run its course.

LSD is typically taken in tablet form or held under the tongue using a small piece of drug-soaked paper.

Signs and Symptoms of LSD Abuse

Because LSD is not physically addictive, it is much easier to spot the signs of LSD abuse even if psychological dependence has not developed. We have taken the liberty to divide the signs and symptoms into two categories: physical and psychological.

Please be aware that LSD is a psychoactive substance the body can become tolerant of. When tolerance sets in, the user must consume larger volumes of the drug in order to derive the same amount of pleasure. Tolerance is a good indication that psychological addiction is present.

The physical signs and symptoms of LSD abuse include:

  • loss of appetite
  • sleeping problems
  • persistent dry mouth
  • dilated pupils
  • changes in body temperature (higher or lower)
  • regular sweating or chills
  • regular episodes of tremors.

Psychological signs and symptoms of LSD abuse include:

  • regular delusions and hallucinations
  • distorted perceptions of personal identity
  • distorted perceptions of time, space and reality
  • distorted sense of euphoria and self-confidence
  • severe and often terrifying thoughts and feelings
  • panic attacks and unusual fears of losing control
  • flashbacks (recurring LSD trips)
  • gradually developing depression and/or psychosis.

The most dangerous part of taking LSD are the bad trips that can be too much to deal with. A bad trip can lead to violent behaviour and self-harm. LSD users that suffer regular flashbacks experience recurring bad trips related to the distant past. In other words, it is not unusual for someone who abuses LSD to have a flashback from an incident that happened years earlier.

The idea of having terrifying hallucinations and flashbacks may not seem like a big deal in light of the fact that some other drugs have much more profound effects on the body. Yet anyone who has experienced a bad trip can tell you that the terror it induces is not worth it.

Treatment for LSD Addiction

Because LSD does not create physical dependence, it is not considered a highly addictive drug. But psychological dependence is both possible and real. Treatment for psychological addiction is confined to addressing the user’s underlying need to take the drug on a regular basis.

For example, a user may associate tripping with pleasant experiences as a young adult. A desire to return to one’s youth may be the motivation to start taking LSD again or, in some cases, to never stop using it. The mind becomes so dependent on LSD to find that comfort and pleasure that the user eventually gets to a place where pleasure is derived in no other way.

It is unwise to assume LSD can be used long-term without any adverse effects. Long-term depression and psychosis are always risks as is a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), a mental condition characterised by a long-term presence of sensory disturbances. In simple English, people suffering from HPPD caused by LSD use can experience long-term, terrifying hallucinations and flashbacks for years – even if they stop taking the drug.

Treatment for LSD concentrates on psychotherapeutic treatments aimed at helping the individual understand that life can be enjoyed without the use of harmful substances. It deals with the psychological longing to take LSD; it addresses the association of LSD with some sort of pleasurable experience the user is trying to re-create. With the right kind of treatment and support, anyone who wants to stop using LSD can.

Addiction Helper is an independent organisation offering free services to LSD users and their families. We can help you find the right kind of treatment that meets your needs and budget. If you are struggling to get off LSD, we encourage you to contact us immediately.