People who have become dependent on the hallucinogenic effects of LSD crave the drug for a variety of reasons. While LSD is not physically addictive, some people develop a psychological addiction to LSD in a matter of days or weeks, depending on personal circumstances.
How LSD Abuse Begins
An addiction may be physical, psychological, or both. Although LSD is one of the most potent hallucinogenic drugs, it is not physically addictive. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies LSD as a Schedule I drug; listed drugs have no current accepted medical use and carry potential for psychological or physical abuse.1
Since LSD is not physically addictive, it generally should not produce withdrawal symptoms (such as cramps or flu-like symptoms) once a person stops taking it. People who take LSD will build a physical tolerance to this drug, however. A person’s tolerance increases when he or she must increase the used amount of LSD in order to achieve the original state of intoxication that was experienced at the first use. In addition to physical tolerance, some LSD users take other hallucinogenic drugs (including psilocybin, a.k.a. mushrooms) and build a cross-tolerance between various drugs.
People who experiment with LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs may develop a psychological need to have the drug as a way to find comfort or experience excitement. They may also begin experimenting with other, stronger drugs that may have lasting effects or cause significant damage when combined.2
Dangers of LSD Use
People who use LSD may experience flashbacks that appear as sudden hallucinations and other perception or mood disturbances. Flashbacks can occur at random moments, days or even years after using the drug.
In rare cases, people who use hallucinogens may develop hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). This disorder disrupts a person’s senses and thinking even when drugs are not in his or her system. HPPD may continue for months and disrupt a person’s day-to-day life. LSD also may bring on persistent psychosis, which creates visual distortions, paranoia, mood changes and disorganized thinking. If you have any family history of psychosis, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, it is especially important to avoid all use of LSD.2
LSD Addiction Resources
Dependence on LSD will negatively impacts your sense of reality. Hallucinogenic drugs may worsen any underlying psychological issues a person experiences and may increase a person’s risk of experiencing violence or danger while under the drug’s influence. If you have been using LSD to cope with life or to self-medicate, you may benefit from supportive counseling and wellness that addiction treatment provides.
Quality treatment programs, like The Canyon, offer holistic, evidence-based treatment that looks at all underlying issues a person has and provides coping strategies to cope– all without the use of LSD or other substances.3
When a person enters treatment for LSD use, it’s not usually necessary to go through physical detoxification unless other substances were involved. The initial stages of treatment include an intake session to give your treatment team a chance to work with the you to set treatment goals and determine a treatment plan. Treatments may include talk therapy, individual counseling and group support, experiential therapy, trauma recovery, music therapy, adventure therapy, or other evidence-based treatments.4
Many people who have struggled with LSD choose outpatient treatment. Outpatient settings offer flexibility and give patients the ability to work, continue at school, or manage family responsibilities. Night or weekend programs allow patients to attend individual or group therapy sessions on a flexible schedule; other programs offered during the day allow for intensive therapy, but still give patients the ability to go home at night.
Even though patients in an outpatient program continue to work or manage other responsibilities; it’s important to use time in treatment to focus on changing habits, routines or relationships that enabled drug use.4
Those who suffer from addictions to other drugs or a co-occurring mental health disorder often benefit greatly from residential treatment. Residential (inpatient) programs give individuals the ability to step away from everyday life and focus on building new skills. Residential treatment offers the benefit of a more intensive program with supportive monitoring, which is shown to lower relapse rates. Inpatient treatment also offers patients greater support when it is time to transition back to daily life.4
Get Help for LSD Abuse
Recovery from substance use may seem overwhelming now, but it is possible. The use of LSD can be a hard habit to break, but it is possible to find healing before addiction to LSD or other substances becomes worse. Call 424-387-3118 now to learn how The Canyon can help you and those you love today.
By Kathryn Millán, LPC/MHSP, Contributing Writer
1 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Schedules. 2018.
2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are hallucinogens? 2016.
3 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Substance Use Disorders. 2015.
4 SAMHSA. Behavioral Health Treatments and Services. 2015.