Can LSD Affect My Memory?

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a hallucinogenic drug that is known to give individuals unpredictable and often disturbing reactions, visions and emotions. While the drug was initially investigated for its scientific potential, the rampant abuse of LSD during the 1960s eventually led to legislation that made LSD illegal in the United States.

LSD can alter an individual’s perception and cause hallucinations where the user sees or hears things that are not real.1 But can LSD use impair memory? To answer this question, let’s first look at some of the common side effects of LSD.

The Side Effects of LSD

LSD use leads to a number of physical effects in the body. Some immediate physical symptoms of LSD include, but are not limited to:

  • Change in appetite
  • Weakness
  • Fluctuations in body temperature
  • Goose bumps or shivers
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Shaking
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure

While LSD use is normally not fatal, there is always a higher risk of health problems when someone is under the influence of illegal drugs. There is simply no way to know how the user will respond to the LSD. If the individual drives or operates machinery, serious injury and even death are possible.

How LSD Changes Your Brain

When someone takes LSD, the drug primarily affects the brain. In fact, a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences says, “In many ways, the brain in the LSD state resembles the state our brains were in when we were infants: free and unconstrained.”2 While that may sound fairly harmless, there are many negative effects of LSD use on the brain.

Here are a few specific examples evidenced by LSD use:
  • Altered personality or mood
  • Changed outlook on life or relationships
  • Visual distortions
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Flashbacks that may occur long after the last use of LSD
  • Impaired ability to drive, walk, complete tasks, or work
  • Impaired judgment
  • Altered memories

Altered memories are a concern for many LSD users. Hallucinogens interfere with the action of the brain chemical glutamate, which regulates pain perception, responses to the environment and memory.3 Individuals on LSD often experience blackouts. Even though the user is awake and active during the entire trip, he has no mental record of what transpired for some (or all) of the time he was under the influence.

Some people who use LSD find their short-term memory inhibited. Even when they discontinuation using, that memory may not return. And while permanent memory loss may not happen, there are significant risks involved.

LSD has been determined too dangerous to be administered even for medical purposes. The drug is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse.4 There is no good reason to ingest LSD and risk inflicting such damage on the body.

What You Can Do Next

If you or your loved one are having health problems related to past LSD use, or if someone you know currently has a drug problem, please call our toll-free helpline, 877-345-3299. We are available 24 hours a day to help you get the help you need. Please call now and take that first, essential step toward the healthy, sober life you deserve.

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1 Protein Structure Reveals How LSD Affects Brain.” National Institutes of Health. Accessed 7 June 2018.

2 Starr, Michelle. “This Is Your Brain On LSD.” Cnet. Accessed 8 June 2018.

3 Hallucinogens.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed 6 June 2018.

4 Drug Fact Sheet: LSD.” Accessed 8 June 2018.

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