The short-term effects of LSD are well known, with users experiencing powerful hallucinations that can last as long as 12 hours after ingestion. But what happens when someone abuses LSD regularly? While LSD is not physically addictive like heroin or cocaine, it is possible to become psychologically addicted and chronic LSD use can lead to some serious side effects, especially those affecting cognitive function. Powerful hallucinogens cause extreme cognitive changes in users that may lead to psychosis or flashbacks long after acid use.
Side Effects of LSD
LSD is considered a classic hallucinogen and has been one of the most popular psychedelics since the 1960s. The effects of LSD are difficult to predict and depend partly on the user’s mood, setting, and expectations. Users may experience an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and extreme changes in emotional state. Losing control during a trip on LSD can result in a panic attack, feelings of death, and extreme terror that is difficult to separate from reality. With chronic use, users will rapidly build a tolerance and may have to double or triple their dose within a few days in order to experience the effects of LSD.
LSD and Persistent Psychosis
Persistent psychosis can occur whether you have abused LSD once or are a chronic user, and you are exposed to the risk every time you use LSD. Therapy can help users cope with confusion associated with experiences and side effects of LSD and can help ease the problem with time. Many studies have investigated the relationship between LSD use and schizophrenia. Research has been ongoing since the 1970s and researchers have found people with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia experienced a greater psychotic reaction to LSD than others.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder
Flashbacks have long been associated with LSD abuse, but HPPD is a disorder that encompasses many possible persistent side effects from chronic LSD use. The difference between flashbacks and HPPD is that flashbacks are periodic effects that come and go but HPPD produces persistent visual disturbances that look similar to hallucinogenic visuals. Previous use of hallucinogens is necessary to diagnose HPPD but is not enough evidence alone. Symptoms of HPPD vary between users and can change over time but include auras or halos around objects, trails of light or color behind moving objects, visual snow, and distortion in the appearance of objects. The causes of HPPD are not yet known but symptoms can occur following a single use of LSD, but are more common in frequent users. Currently no cure is available for HPPD, and while some people have returned to a normal perception, it is unknown how common that is.
Identifying Chronic LSD Use
The physical effects of LSD use may be more difficult to identify than other drugs, but LSD produces changes in behavior that may make it easier to identify an LSD user.
- Erratic behavior – A person who abuses LSD may lose sight of the consequences of his actions, leading him to take extreme risks or act in a way he normally would not. LSD users experience vivid hallucinations and may forget where they are or even who they are, resulting in dangerous behavior.
- Extreme anxiety – Users may display signs of extreme anxiety such as trembling, sweating, or incoherent speech. Paranoia is often common during a bad trip. If a user shows extreme anxiety you should try to calm him down and let the drug’s effects pass.
- Finding blotter paper – The most common way LSD is abused is by ingesting microscopic amounts of the substance on blotter paper. Blotter paper is usually in the shape of a small square and may either be white or have designs printed on it. If you find blotter paper you can have it tested to determine if it is LSD.
- Losing touch with reality – Over time, LSD users may begin to lose touch with reality. An LSD user may speak in grandiose terms, make rambling speeches, and seem incoherent. This may be a sign of schizophrenia or another mental disorder as well, so be sure to look for other signs of LSD abuse.
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in a friend or family member, speak with an addiction treatment professional to learn how you can help.
Since LSD does not cause physical addiction, users do not experience as many physical effects of withdrawal, but treatment is still needed to help you deal with the mental effects of quitting acid. Quitting LSD will make it easier to have healthy relationships and will allow you to advance further in your career. To find out more about rehab for LSD, call our toll-free helpline today. We are here 24 hours a day to give you more details about how LSD affects the brain and to tell you what life in recovery is like. Your health insurance may help pay for your treatment, so have your policy information on-hand when you call.