LSD Misuse: Signs, Effects, & Rehab

Drugs that alter a person’s thoughts, feelings, and awareness of their surroundings are called hallucinogens.1 One of the most powerful drugs that belong to this group is LSD.

Read on to learn more about what LSD is, the effects of LSD, and how to help someone get treatment for LSD misuse.

What Is LSD?

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a powerful hallucinogenic chemical typically synthesized from a chemical extracted from ergot, a fungus that grows on grains.1 The DEA lists LSD as a Schedule I substance, meaning the drug has no recognized medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. Possession and distribution of LSD is illegal;2 however, in 2019, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration estimated that 0.9% of Americans over 12 years old used LSD within the past year.3

Synthesizing LSD is a complicated process that requires chemistry knowledge and laboratory experience.4 LSD is clear or white and odorless liquid.1

Other Names for LSD

Common street names for LSD are:5

  • Acid.
  • Blotter.
  • Hits.
  • Windowpane.
  • Sugar cubes.
  • Sunshine tabs.

How Is LSD Used?

LSD is usually taken orally;6 however, it can also be snorted, injected,5 and even absorbed through the skin.7 Because it is a powerful hallucinogen, only a very small amount is needed to produce strong effects.

The illicit drug is available:5

  • In liquid form.
  • Saturated onto small sheets of paper or sugar cubes.
  • In tablets or capsules.

How Long Does An LSD Trip Last?

People commonly refer to being under the influence of LSD as “tripping.” The effects of LSD are normally felt within 20-30 minutes after taking an oral dose and within 10 minutes when injected. The experience usually peaks at 2 to 4 hours, though LSD effects are felt for up to 12 hours.5

How to Help Someone on a Bad LSD Trip

During an LSD trip, a person may maintain their ability to delineate between subjective experience and real world. This often results in a perceived clarity of the mind, euphoria, and fearlessness, and can be described as a “good trip.”8

However, some people experience the other end of the spectrum—a “bad trip”—after taking LSD. During a bad trip, fear is amplified and distorted thoughts and sensory illusions are interpreted as intrusive and terrifying, causing anxiety, panic and despair.8 A person may experience both positive and negative interpretations at different times of use.9

While there’s no way to guarantee someone will have a good trip on LSD, there are some ways to reduce the likelihood of a bad trip and to mitigate someone’s negative experience should one occur:10

  • The location should be safe and comfortable as possible. Whether an LSD experience is positive or negative is largely dependent environment.
  • LSD should only be taken with a trusted friend that knows how strong it is and what to expect.
  • No one should take LSD if they are feeling upset or self-conscious; LSD can amplify these feelings.
  • People that take LSD and don’t feel its effects should avoid taking another dose as it may take a long time for these effects to be felt and they can be stronger than expected.

If someone starts having a bad trip, a trusted friend should take them to a calm, safe space, away from other people and visual and auditory stimulation. Speaking calmly and assuring them that the experience is temporary may make them feel better. In extreme cases where the situation seems unsafe, medical attention may be needed.

How Long Does LSD Stay in Your System?

The length of time that LSD can be detected in someone’s body depends on the type of test that is administered. The amount of LSD taken also plays a significant factor in how long the drug can be detected through various methods.11 Because only a low dose of the drug is needed to produce its effects, drug testing for LSD is challenging.12

A blood test can detect LSD for about 6-12 hours after it was taken. LSD is detectable in urine samples for about 2-4 days.10 Tests performed on hair follicles can detect LSD for a much longer period of time, but the actual length of time is highly variable.13

LSD is not part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)-5 drug test panel, nor is it part of most expanded drug testing panels.14

What Are the Risks of Taking LSD?

LSD alters the mind by strongly binding to serotonin receptors and changing two major signaling pathways within cells.14 Serotonin is a brain chemical that is associated with regulating:1

  • Sensory perception.
  • Body temperature.
  • Sleep.
  • Hunger.
  • Sexual behavior.
  • Mood.

Long Term Effects of Acid

There is no evidence that LSD causes lasting damage to the organs or long-lasting neuropsychological deficits even at higher doses.8 Some people who take LSD experience longer-lasting effects. These are typically a result of a particularly traumatic “bad trip.” Lingering effects may include:

  • Depression and anxiety symptoms.10
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPP). This causes people to experience the effects of the drug long after the substance leaves their system. Sometimes it manifests as “flashbacks” that can cause someone to feel certain qualities of the trip for months after the experience.6

A bigger risk is when individuals on LSD exhibit erratic and dangerous behavior as a result of the intense subjective experience.10

Is Acid Addictive?

Research has not shown LSD to be addictive, as it is not reliably reinforcing—and its highly variable subjective effects can also be aversive. Studies have confirmed that a tolerance to LSD develops quickly, limiting the impact of whatever rewarding effects it has.8

LSD effects on the brain have been studied extensively.7 Despite this, researchers are still largely baffled by how LSD effects on the brain are caused.15

Many studies have been conducted to observe potential therapeutic properties in treating a variety of mental disorders, Alzheimer’s, and severe migraines. However, there are currently no approved indications for LSD-assisted therapy.9

Microdosing on Acid

Recently, the concept of microdosing—taking low doses of LSD or other hallucinogens (so only threshold effects are felt)—as a means to improve mood and cognitive function has been gaining attention. This has led some researchers to speculate whether a controlled version of this methodology might be useful in treating depression. So far, research has yet to prove or disprove this hypothesis.16

Treatment for LSD Misuse

If you or someone you care about is suffering from the negative effects of LSD misuse, treatment is available. Recovery First Treatment Center is an inpatient addiction treatment facility in Hollywood, FL. Our facility offers levels of rehab that include:

Treatment programs are tailored to each patient’s individual needs and can last anywhere from a weekend in rehab to a month-long inpatient program or long-term residential rehab.

Recovery First is in-network with many of the major health insurance providers. You can quickly verify if your insurance covers rehab by completing our secure .

In addition to insurance, there are other ways to pay for rehab. Rehab admissions navigators are available 24/7 to discuss flexible payment solutions and help you get the treatment you deserve. Call and start the admissions process today.

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