LSD is a semi-synthetic psychedelic drug and one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals available.1 It is sold in tablet, capsule and liquid form. When LSD (also known as acid) enters the brain, it disrupts the interaction of nerve cells and serotonin. This triggers hallucinations and creates profound distortions of reality.
Recreational use is referred to as tripping and generally leads to highs that last up to 12 hours. People under the influence of LSD may see, hear and feel things that do not exist.
Other side effects include the following:
- Mood swings
- Terrifying thoughts
- Feelings of despair
- Intense fear of losing control
- Fear of insanity
Physical effects include the following:
- Elevated body temperature
- Raised heart rate
- Decreased appetite2
Individuals who use LSD can also suffer from recurrences of the drug experience, which are called flashbacks, without warning, long after the chemical has left their bodies. A condition known as hallucinogen-induced persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD) results when these disruptions persist and cause social and occupational impairment. Acid flashbacks are not fully understood, but within the scientific community, three theories about them prevail.
- Damage induced by LSD exposure may cause the brain to misfire and send incorrect signals.
- LSD may change the way the brain functions and perceives information, making it more sensitive to light and creating visual halos and trails that can occur at any time.
- Some portion of the LSD usually gets stored in the body or brain and released later.
Although the drug is not considered addictive, abuse can lead to tolerance, a condition defined by a need for higher doses to achieve the same effect. Given the unpredictable nature of the drug, LSD use is a highly risky practice.
Combining LSD With Other Drugs
Combining drugs such as LSD with other substances is dangerous. Most drug users are not doctors and/or chemists; they are unlikely to know what combinations and doses are dangerous or deadly. Possible LSD combinations and the physical reactions they may trigger include the following:
Amphetamines and LSD
Amphetamines are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. When mixed with psychedelic drugs such as LSD, the result is often an energized person who is experiencing hallucinations. This can be quite dangerous because users may begin to act strangely and injure themselves and others.
Cocaine and LSD
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant. Taken in combination with LSD, it may trigger hallucinations, paranoia and delusional thinking.
Alcohol and LSD
Alcohol tends to dull the effects of LSD.
Antidepressants and LSD
Mixing lithium and/or tricyclic antidepressants with LSD can be lethal.
Unlike substances that create dependence by altering brain chemistry, LSD does not trigger physiological needs. That is why users do not experience withdrawal symptoms or physical cravings. Still, LSD’s powerful hallucinatory effects often cause psychological addiction. Users who struggle to cope with normal life may compulsively use drugs to escape reality.
- Mood swings
- Continued use despite negative consequences
- Preoccupation with finding and using LSD
- Depression or anxiety when not able to take LSD
- Loss of motivation
- Inability to handle typical pressures
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
Recovery from LSD addiction focuses on breaking psychological dependence and strengthening coping skills. Treatment approaches may include the following components:
- Counseling to identify emotional and mental issues behind the addiction
- Ongoing therapy to boost stress management skills and prevent relapse
- Family therapy for affected loved ones
- Attendance at 12-step support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Overcoming addiction to LSD is not easy, but it is possible with the right professional help.
Help for LSD Abuse
If you or someone you love is struggling with LSD abuse, help is available. Admissions coordinators at our toll free, 24-hour helpline can help you begin a life without drug use. You don’t have to feel alone because support is just one phone call away at 877-345-3299. Start your recovery today.
1 "Hallucinogens." National Institute on Drug Abuse, January 2016.
2 "LSD." Alcohol and Drug Foundation, July 16, 2018.
3 Holland, Kimberly, "What Is Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)?" Healthline.com, May 23, 2017.