Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH
Is LSD safe? LSD (acid) is a strong hallucinogenic that became well-known in the ’70s. Although, you can trace the origins of the substance back to 1938.
When taking LSD, some might feel euphoria while others experience fear and terrifying hallucinations.
There is no stopping a trip. Trips usually begin within 30–45 minutes. The peak will happen somewhere around the two to four-hour mark.
However, it can take up to 24 hours to feel “normal” again. Trips can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. If a trip is bad, it’s possible to feel terrible for an entire day.
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LSD, while less addictive than other drugs, can lead to dangerous side effects and further addictive drug use. Read more down below, and do not hesitate to call for help.
- A Mind-Altering Substance
- LSD and Serotonin
- Dangerous Delusions
- LSD: Mysteries and Myths
- Returning to a Healthy Lifestyle
- Stop Substance Experimentation Today
A Mind-Altering Substance
LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide. LSD is an artificially made drug from lysergic acid. Lysergic acid is a fungus that can grow on grains like rye.
LSD often comes in tablet form. However, you can find LSD in many other forms. People may buy LSD on paper. Other times it is a thick square of gelatin.
Occasionally, LSD is found in a liquid form. The pure liquid form is the strongest, making it the most dangerous.
A trip can create a variety of sensations. The sensations are sometimes stimulating and pleasurable. Other times trips can be a mind-altering experience. At times, a trip can be more terrifying than any nightmare.
Since LSD is not addictive like other drugs are, it has a high chance of abuse. Most drug use will affect the way the brain handles pleasure and reward.
Those drugs hijack the part of the brain that controls pleasure. The drug quickly retrains the brain only to enjoy a hit of the drug and nothing else.
However, LSD only plays mind games with the brain for a few hours. The effects of LSD are unpredictable but sometimes enjoyable.
Due to the short-term effects of LSD—and the minimal long-term effects of LSD—many users continue to come back to it. After a while, they become dependent on LSD. This dependence can create a gateway to other drugs and a future of drug abuse.
LSD and Serotonin
While researchers study illicit drugs and how they affect the body, minimal research is available on LSD. Researchers still question what happens to the central nervous system. Drug researchers want to know why LSD creates hallucinations.
Researchers have been looking at the many LSD effects on the body. They believe LSD works like serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain.
Serotonin is the chemical that helps regulate your behavior, mood, senses, and thoughts. Since LSD affects all of these areas, it only makes sense for them to relate serotonin and LSD.
Besides affecting serotonin, LSD also affects how your eyes process information and what information the brain receives. LSD makes hallucinations vivid.
The change in vision processing is why depth perception changes. When someone takes LSD, the body metabolizes it, and it leaves the body through their urine. A small amount will remain in the body at the end of the trip. After a few weeks, all traces of LSD leave the body.
LSD effects can vary from person to person—most of the damage that happens while on LSD comes from poor judgment. LSD affects your perception of reality.
More so, LSD provides an immortal feeling while tripping. The delusion of invincibility is one of the negative effects of LSD and contributes to many accidents and deaths.
Those who use LSD have died by accident when they walk in front of a car, fall from a building, or make the mistake of driving while using. All of these accidents happen due to a lack of inhibition. The cause of most LSD deaths is from an injury while tripping.
Physical Effects of LSD
LSD effects can be both physical and mental.
- Dilated pupils
- Change in body temperature
- Sweating or chills
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
Mental Effects of LSD
- An artificial sense of euphoria
- Severe, terrifying thoughts
- Fear of losing control
- Panic attacks
- Flashbacks, or experiencing the LSD trip again
- Severe depression or psychosis
LSD and Mental Health
LSD does not make someone go insane or become psychotic. Yet, it can react to other drugs and cause psychotic symptoms—especially if the purpose of the other drugs is to affect the brain.
People who have a history of mental illness can have worse symptoms while on LSD. Sometimes, LSD can speed up the onset of mental illnesses.
Those who heavily use LSD can develop severe social problems. Their sleep cycles are ruined, they lose interest in eating, and they neglect personal hygiene.
As a result, they become bored with the world around them and feel separate from friends and family.
In reality, they may be taking LSD so often they don’t realize their life is a mess. They believe LSD is creating the illusion of a messy life. They don’t realize the mess is getting worse because of LSD.
LSD: Mysteries and Myths
While there is no known lethal dose, it is possible to overdose on LSD. Overdosing on LSD leads to severe psychosis—which is a disconnect from reality. LSD-induced psychosis will often look like schizophrenia.
The user will most likely experience impaired depth perception. The individual will be unaware of how much time has gone by.
Their vision distorts the size and shape of objects. Simple movements like waving a hand or walking don’t look right. Colors, sounds, and touch all have a different experience.
Sometimes these experiences occur together, causing someone to believe that they hear colors and see sounds. The individual may taste numbers.
Certain individuals will find this kind of trip fascinating and entertaining. For others, however, it causes a panic attack. Some LSD users experience severe and terrifying thoughts. The users fear losing control, insanity, or death.
A flashback happens when a person who used LSD in the past has an experience like an actual trip. These experiences last anywhere from seconds to hours. While many users find these trips disturbing, many people enjoy them and refer to them as “free trips.”
The subject of flashbacks is controversial for many users. Flashbacks are uncommon, and many people who use LSD claim flashbacks don’t exist. On the other hand, plenty of people believes they exist. There is not enough research to confirm the flashback phenomenon.
As a result, whether or not flashbacks exist is inconclusive. Researchers know that those with mental illnesses are most likely to report flashbacks. Due to the correlation, doctors and researchers believe flashbacks are part of a mental illness that LSD can activate and not a side effect of LSD alone.
The Urban Legend
A common urban legend about LSD tells us LSD will stay in the body forever. The belief involves minuscule amounts of LSD remaining in the brain or spine.
Those who believe this say the brain stores and releases molecules of LSD over time, almost like a time-released medication. They believe the remaining LSD creates flashbacks.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptive Disorder
Another theory behind a user experiencing flashbacks is a disorder known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptive Disorder (HPPD). HPPD is common in those who take a large amount of LSD. The large amount of LSD triggers persistent visual hallucinations instead of flashbacks. While HPPD is rare and limits available research, researchers know the differences between the two.
Flashbacks are full-body experiences. Every sense in your body believes the flashback is happening and reacts. With HPPD, you will only get the visual part of the flashback. You won’t experience the pounding heart, sweaty palms, hearing the sounds from the flashback, or any other sensory response.
Return to a Healthy Lifestyle
People who typically seek rehab treatment only for LSD are those who feel they’ve become dependent on LSD. It is not typical for someone to rehab for LSD abuse since it is commonly an addictive drug. However, LSD is often a gateway drug.
The effects of LSD are often unpredictable, and as a result, many users will want to try more consistent drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth. Any user can build up a tolerance to LSD. Most users will only have LSD one day a week.
Healthcare professionals consider someone who uses twice a week or more a heavy user. On top of that, trips may become boring after a while.
What was once a magical feeling becomes a new normal—the desire to feel that magic again leads many people to use harder, more addictive drugs.
Once you’re ready to recover from dependence on LSD, there are a few steps to take. Make an appointment with a healthcare provider to discuss treatment options.
Find a therapist or support group to help process behaviors and triggers for using LSD. Keep all appointments and follow the treatment plan. Make self-care a priority.
Exercise, eat healthily and get a good night’s sleep. Find a new hobby to help distract you from drug use. Try to stay away from people who abuse drugs, and they are not your friends while in recovery.
Stop Risky Experimentation Today
While LSD is not addictive the same way other drugs are, it can still have a disabling effect on your life. When you are feeling stuck, it’s time to get help.
If you’re thinking of trying a different drug, it’s time to talk to someone. If you’ve already started mixing LSD with other drugs, it’s time to get treatment.
To ask questions about drug and alcohol treatment options, give us a call today at (385) 327-7418!