The hallucinogen, LSD, produces powerful and unpredictable hallucinations, making it potentially dangerous for people in crowds or other high-sensory environments. People under LSD’s influence may engage in bizarre and dangerous behaviors and seriously harm themselves or others.
History of LSD Use
Created in a Swiss lab in the 1930s, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a semi-synthetic drug made from ergot, a fungus found on tainted rye. It was originally created to help with respiratory depression, but its hallucinogenic effects were discovered several years later when the researcher accidentally got some of the drug on his skin.
The drug was used for many years in anesthesia and in psychiatry treatments; however, when the culture at large began to use it recreationally in the 1960s, it was made illegal and given the DEA classification of a Schedule I drug. Although it is not as commonly used as other recreational drugs, it is still popular and dangerous.1
How LSD Affects Users
LSD produces serious side effects. Since the drug brings on intense and involved hallucinations, it’s possible for a person to become paranoid or violent while on the drug. The intensity of LSD side effects depends on several factors: the amount of drug taken, the environment surrounding a person, and his or her mood and personality. Side effects range in intensity, and they are usually felt within 20 to 30 minutes of taking the drug.
LSD’s effects on behavior are forceful — the drug can bring on severe paranoia and fear or overconfidence prompting a person to engage in dangerous or violent behavior. One trip may produce feelings of bliss while another creates feelings of intense terror. Since LSD is a hallucinogenic drug, some users are unable to tell if experiences are happening in reality or are being created by the drug.
Additional behavioral and emotional side effects of LSD include the following:
- Distorted sense of time and identity
- Impaired depth perception
- Terrifying thoughts or feelings
- Panic attacks
- Flashbacks years after taking LSD
- Depression or psychosis4
Caught up in the powerful hallucinations brought on by LSD, a person may experience her deepest fears and significantly harm herself in an attempt to escape or endanger others through violent actions.2
The Physical Side Effects of LSD
In addition to psychological symptoms, LSD brings on physical side effects that may change a person’s behavior. The drug affects body temperature, making a person feel either hot or cold. It also causes increases or decreases in heart rate and blood pressure. Some other physical side effects of LSD include the following:
- Dilated pupils
- Sweating or chills
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Visual changes3
A person who exhibits extreme paranoia or dangerous behavior while on LSD may need emergency help. In some cases, a physician may give a person a sedative or offer a safe environment for him or her to wait out the effects of the drug.
Unlike other drugs of addiction, LSD is psychologically addicting rather than physically addicting. It does not create physical cravings or extreme drug-seeking behavior, but users develop a psychological desire to take the drug. In addition, LSD creates flashbacks of trips days, months or even a year after a person stops using the drug. LSD abuse also leads to drug tolerance, which means users need more of the substance to achieve the same effect.
Although LSD is not as addictive as other drugs of abuse, it poses a substantial threat to the person using it.
Because of its unpredictable nature and tendency to cause individuals to act irrationally, people affected by the drug should be considered dangerous to themselves and others, even if they do not intend to be. People may act violently or erratically and be difficult to console if they seem unnerved. They may believe they can do safely attempt feats that are dangerous and even potentially fatal.
Finding Help for LSD Addiction
If you or a loved one struggles with LSD abuse, our admissions coordinators are here to help. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week to learn answers to your questions and find out about treatment options. We want to help you begin a healthy life apart from drugs. Please call 877-345-3299 today.
1 Davis, Kathleen, "LSD: Effects and hazards." Medical News Today, June 22, 2017.
2 "Substance use - LSD." Medline Plus, May 5, 2018.
3 "LSD." Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Accessed August 29, 2018.