LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), the powerful hallucinogen associated with the 1960s counterculture movement, rarely produces serious withdrawal symptoms. Unlike physically addictive substances, such as opiates or alcohol, LSD produces mostly psychological symptoms. The drug’s significant psychological factors put someone at risk of doing something dangerous while high or developing mental health problems.
Understanding LSD’s Physical Symptoms
As far as hallucinogens go, LSD is one of the most potent. A small dose produces hallucinations within 30 minutes and lasts for six to 12 hours. Larger doses produce more intense sensory experiences, but it is rare for a person to come in contact with these extreme higher doses. The typical dose of LSD available today is much less potent than doses available in the 1960s. When a person does consume higher levels of LSD, he experiences one or more of the following symptoms:
- Changes in blood pressure
- Flushing, sweating
- Feeling hot or cold
- Changes in sleeping patterns, drowsy or sleepless
- Seizures (in rare cases, with extremely high doses)
In addition to the physical symptoms of LSD use, the drug produces powerful psychological symptoms. Users lose track of time and perceive everything in a distorted way. They may see sounds or hear colors. Feelings become intense and may go from excitement and pleasure to fear and paranoia.
While researchers know the possible symptoms associated with LSD use, it’s rare to find a pure form of the drug. Since it’s sold illicitly, underground labs produce the drug and may manufacture it along with other chemicals, such as amphetamines, PCP (phencyclidine) or strychnine (a strong stimulant used in rat poison). It’s also common for someone to abuse LSD along with other drugs, such as alcohol and marijuana. Users may also combine LSD with MDMA (ecstasy) in clubs or at parties. A person who takes multiple substances or is unaware of what’s in the drugs consumed may experience serious symptoms that go beyond common LSD symptoms.
Drugs with a high risk of physical dependence usually require a physical detoxification process to rid the body of the substance and manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. While LSD does not produce physical dependence and discomfort, it does put someone at risk for serious psychological problems. There are two long-term conditions that go along with LSD use: persistent psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder
Former LSD users may develop a sensory condition known as HPPD. This condition affects a person by distorting senses on a permanent basis. Someone with the condition may see shapes out of the corner of her eye or suffer with feelings of depression. It may affect a person for years and range from mild sensory alterations to full-blown flashbacks. The disorder may include:
- Impaired memory
- Lessened attention span
- Mental confusion
- Difficulty with abstract thought
- Psychological dependence
- Suicidal thoughts
Diagnosing HPPD correctly may be challenging. The disorder is sometimes confused with other neurological disorders, such as stroke or brain tumor.
LSD use also may bring on psychosis with symptoms lasting long after drug use ends. Someone suffering with psychosis has trouble understanding the difference between reality and hallucinations. In addition to delusions and hallucinations, someone with psychosis may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Inability to communicate effectively, switches topics rapidly
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Someone suffering from persistent psychosis may see people or things not actually present, or they may suffer with delusions. Delusions are beliefs not based on actual fact. For example, someone may believe he is receiving secret messages from a government agency, when he is not.
In addition, LSD use rapidly leads to tolerance, requiring users to take more and more of the drug to feel the same effects. Tolerance to the drug does not last long, and users who abstain from the drug for many days return to prior tolerance levels.2
LSD Addiction Help
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to LSD, our admissions coordinators are here to help. We offer advice and guidance on treatment options and have information about health insurance coverage. Please our toll free number for treatment options. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help.
 Rega, Paul P. (2015). LSD Toxicity. Medscape. Retrieved Sept. 26, 2016 from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1011615-overview.
 Davis, Kathleen. (2015). What is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)? Effects and hazards of LSD. Medical News Today. Retrieved Sept. 26 2016 from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295966.php.
 Sussman, Steve and Ames, Susan L. (2001). The Social Psychology of Drug Abuse. Retrieved Sept. 26, 2016 from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steve_Sussman/publication/266497797_The_social_psychology_of_drug_abuse/links/546050ce0cf2c1a63bfdc588.pdf.
 Drug Enforcement Agency. (2015). Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide. Retrieved Sept. 26 from https://www.dea.gov/pr/multimedia-library/publications/drug_of_abuse.pdf#page=68.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What are hallucinogens? Drug Facts. Retrieved Sept. 26hj, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What are hallucinogens? Drug Facts. Retrieved Sept. 26, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.
Carey, Elea. (2016). What is Psychosis? Healthline Media. Retrieved Sept. 26, 2016 from http://www.healthline.com/health/psychosis#Overview1.