LSD’s effects can range from “pleasant” to unpleasant and unpredictable. Any and all of these effects result from the drug’s impact on the brain. While some changes are temporary, others are more lasting.
So can these be reversed, and can your brain heal after LSD use? Read on to learn how LSD works, how it changes the brain and what treatment and recovery can do for you.
What Is LSD?
LSD is a complex drug synthesized from a seemingly simple fungus. This fungus, called ergot, grows on rye. Ergot is a poison and can cause serious mental and physical health effects. While LSD is often seen as harmless, it has negative effects on health as well.
Users can take LSD in many ways. It can be injected, snorted and taken as a pill. However the most common way to use the drug is to ingest small pieces of paper that have been soaked in the drug. These “blotter papers” may be colorful, perforated or just simple-looking pieces of paper.
The drug begins affecting users within the first hour or two after taking the drug. It continues to have lasting effects for several hours afterward. These effects are unpredictable. The same dose of the same batch of LSD can affect one person completely differently than another. One user can be affected differently between one trip to the next taking the same amount and the same kind of LSD.
How Does LSD Use Harm and Affect the Brain?
LSD changes how we think about and perceive the world. Time explains that users may experience the following:
- Visual distortion
- Ego dissolution
- Loss of self-identity
- Feeling of connection to the world around us1
LSD causes profound distortions for the user’s perception of reality, or hallucinations. LSD users see images, hear sounds and feel sensations that seem real. Users often report experiences of crossover sensations in which they may hear colors or see sounds. These hallucinations can be paired with rapid and intense emotional swings. Pleasant feelings can quickly become unpleasant or even terrifying.
It changes how we process visual information. It causes certain areas of the brain to communicate more or differently. And even when we’re not using LSD, some of these changes remain or appear at unexpected times. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that some users may even develop persistent psychosis or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder. These involve recurring visual disturbances, hallucinations, paranoia and other mental health and mood disorder symptoms.2
Protecting Your Mental Health
Protecting your health and healing your brain begins with treatment. LSD is not physically addictive, so mental health recovery can begin right away. You have options when it comes to treatment and depending on your individual recovery needs, you can choose one of the following:
- Inpatient treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Community programs
Inpatient treatment offers a safe, drug-free environment so that you can focus on recovery. Outpatient treatment involves group and individual counseling. Community programs can supplement either or both of these treatment options. As you pursue recovery, you give your brain a chance to heal. You give yourself a fresh new start at life.
1 Oaklander, Mandy. “Here’s What LSD Does to the Brain.” Time. 13 Apr. 2016.
2 “How Do Hallucinogens Affect the Brain and Body?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Feb. 2015.