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Article Summary

A Guide To LSD Addiction

LSD, also referred to as D-lysergic acid diethylamide, is a commonly used hallucinogen. By definition, psychoactive substances alter feelings and thoughts. These hallucinogens achieve these effects by changing the way users perceive and sense the world. In the process, you will feel as if false tactile, auditory, and visual sensations are real.

LSD is a powerful hallucinogen created from the lysergic acid, a substance that is produced in the fungus that grows on such grains as rye. Although recurrent use of the drug might not be physical addictive, it causes psychological effects that may seriously impact your behavior, emotions, and thoughts.

While the substance might be dangerous and it is commonly abused (especially by the young), there is an advantage in the sense that most of the signs and symptoms of LSD abuse and addiction are so distinctive. As a direct result, it is relatively easy for parents and loved ones to detect such abuse.

However, to be able to do this, it is imperative that you understand what to look for, how LSD affects the body and the brain, as well as the effects the drug is likely to cause among both short term and long term users.

Read on to learn more about LSD, its uses, effects, side effects, withdrawal symptoms, dangers, and more:

Understanding LSD

More commonly referred to as acid, LSD is a chemical (lysergic acid diethylamide) derived from the ergot fungus. The drug is a hallucinogen and may alter your mood and senses, taking you to another state of consciousness in the process.

The drug was originally created to cure headaches. However, it was soon discovered that it was useful for this purpose. Two years after its introduction as a psychiatric drug, LSD was soon declared illegal in 1949.

Recent preliminary studies now suggest that the drug may be useful in treating alcohol addiction. However, it is still classified as an illegal drug with no known medical uses. Further, its effects are so intense that any such claim requires careful consideration and additional studies, especially given its hallucinogenic properties.

On the street, LSD is available in absorbent paper, liquid form, tablets, and capsules. A single piece of paper is considered to comprise one dose, and it generally allows users to experience close to 12 hours of an acid trip.

Among users, the drug is referred to as microdots, trips, tabs, doses, acid blotter, and acid. Some users also take LSD soaked into sugar cubes, or as thin gelatin squares, added to its tablet forms.

LSD Uses

In many cases, LSD liquid might be soaked into blotting paper with imprints of popular cartoon characters before the paper is perforated. Users hold the blotting paper until their bodies absorb the drug.

A hour or thereabouts after taking the drug, your sense of reality and perceptions may start changing. If you are using LSD for the first time or if you are emotionally unstable, this alteration might frighten you. However, this effect is desirable among people who are already used to drug.

Added to the above effect, LSD may also create a sensory perception which users interpret as an expansion in their state of consciousness. Other users consider such perceptions as religious experiences transcending the ordinary boundaries of existence and awareness.

Similarly, the drug has been known to make users more sociable and relaxed. In such a state, you would be said to be undergoing a trip. However, bad trips are also possible - in which case you may feel panicky and frightened. When this happens, there would be no escape from the changing and altered universe you find yourself in.

LSD Effects

While undergoing a trip, you may experience a variety of effects close to 30 minutes after you take LSD. These trips last for about 12 hours, during which period you may feel like time has either speeded up or slowed down.

You are also likely to hear or see things that may not necessarily be there. For instance, some users say that they see sounds or hear colours (a condition that is referred to as synesthesia).

Other effects arising from LSD use include:

  • Aggression towards others
  • Committing suicide
  • Death, in case of accidents
  • Experiencing lost identity and feeling like you ceased to exist
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Psychotic features that may not end after the LSD trip
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Self-mutilation

The drug also leads to such long term effects as:

  • Difficult interactions
  • Difficulty recognizing reality
  • Flashbacks
  • Hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder
  • Irrational thoughts
  • Psychosis

LSD Side Effects

On the other hand, LSD use may cause the following side effects:

  • Blurred vision
  • Despair
  • Dilated pupils
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Dry mouth
  • Fear of such things as death and insanity
  • Insomnia
  • Intensified sense of noise and smells
  • Mixed senses
  • Mystical experiences
  • Nausea
  • Raised body temperature
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Weakness

LSD Addictive Qualities

In general, doctors don't consider LSD to be a highly addictive drug. This is primarily due to the fact that the substance does not produce cravings similar to physical addiction.

As a direct result, many users are able to stop using the drug successfully without any intervention from a medical team or a rehabilitation facility. However, you may still want to undergo treatment for addiction.

This is because your body may develop tolerance to the drug. This experience may eventually lead to your taking higher doses, or engaging in increasingly risky behavior.

The lack of information is attributed to the lack of frequent/repeated LSD abuse. However, some users might require assistance staying off this or any other psychoactive substance.

In many cases, dependence on LSD is more psychological than physical. Although the drug may not lead to physical cravings, users often associate it to particular situations, circumstances, or people. As a direct result, they may make a habit out of abusing the drug in certain social contexts.

This situation may make it difficult for you to quit because quitting would require that you stop associating with acquaintances and friends who use the drug. Tolerance might also cause you to require more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. However, these higher doses come with increased risk of the negative side effects LSD causes.

LSD Overdose

Some users may also take the drug unaware that it takes anywhere between 20 minutes and 90 to illicit the desired effects. As a direct result, most inexperienced users take repeated doses of the drug within a short time span trying to initiate their first trip. Such inexperienced use is likely to lead to accidental overdose.

Another risk factor is that the doses of LSD on the street as inconsistent. To this end, you may assume your dose is 25 to 40 mg when in actual fact it is anywhere between 125 and 150 mg. This might lead to a drug overdose.

Some of the signs and symptoms of LSD you should be aware of include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Flushing
  • Goose bumps
  • Markedly dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Prickling or tingling sensations
  • Tachycardia, or rapid heart rate
  • Tremors or muscle shakes

On the other hand, a severe overdose would typically by signified by the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding (inside the skull)
  • Blood clotting malfunctions
  • Breakdown of muscle tissue, a condition that may cause kidney failure
  • Coma (although this is rare)
  • Dangerously high body temperatures
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Stopping breathing
  • Vomiting

In case you use (or a loved one uses) LSD and end up experiencing the signs of a bad trip or an overdose, it is imperative that you seek emergency medical services immediately. The treatment may help to prevent you from harming yourself through suicide, self-mutilation, or such dangerous behavior as jumping off buildings or walking into traffic.

Treatment for a LSD overdose may also prevent you from harming and hurting others once the drug causes frightening hallucinations or extreme paranoia, which is likely in such a situation.

LSD Withdrawal

Since this drug isn't considered to be addictive, there is minimal risk of actual physical dependence. As a direct result, there is no documented evidence of anyone who has experienced withdrawal symptoms.

This means that most users may be able to stop using the drug without suffering any physical withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, users are not likely to require withdrawal treatment.

However, the drug is still considered to be psychologically addictive. This may explain why many people prefer to continue using LSD even after realizing that the drug is negatively impacting their lives.

For instance, if you try stopping your abuse, you may experience flashbacks where you undergo short trips long after LSD's effects wear off. These flashbacks might occur days, weeks, months, or even years after you stop using the drug, most likely triggered by sleepiness, stress, or drugs like cannabis.

As a direct result, successfully overcoming your psychological addiction to LSD may require support, therapy, and counseling, like with any other kind of addiction.

LSD Dangers

LSD affects different users in different ways. The risk of experiencing negative effects tends to increase when you take a larger dose of the substance. However, these effects vary widely. As a result, there might be no reliable way to consider how taking the drug will affect you.

However, most users experience flashbacks in which they re-experience segments from previous trips (sometimes several years after you took the drug). These flashbacks tend to be traumatic as well as unpleasant.

On the other hand, repeated use may also cause permanent psychological problems, such as depression and schizophrenia. This risk is compounded if you take a batch of LSD contaminated with other drugs.

In such cases, you are likely to suffer adverse panic attacks and fear that your death is in the offing. Alternatively, you may feel that you are going insane - situations that might find you in a medical emergency room.

Where a bad trip occurs, you may suffer rapid mood swings, paranoia, delusions, and fears that you are disintegrating into nothingness. Similarly, you might feel changes in reality causing you to turn violent, homicidal, or suicidal. As such, LSD sometimes leads to death, either that of the user and/or others.

Signs And Symptoms Of LSD Abuse

Like with any other commonly abused drug, LSD leads to various signs and symptoms. Repeated use, abuse, tolerance, and addiction, to this end, may be evidenced by the following:

1. Physical Symptoms
  • Blurred vision
  • Chills
  • Convulsions
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Erratic behavior
  • Inability to perform such complex tasks as operating machinery or driving
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Salivation
  • Sweating
  • Tingling toes or fingers
  • Weakness
2. Psychological Symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Confused perceptions of reality
  • Depression
  • Emotional distress
  • Flashbacks and re-experiences of previous hallucinations sometimes years after you first took LSD
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Permanent changes in your perception
  • Tremors
3. Behavioral Symptoms
  • Continuing to abuse the drug in spite of the negative consequences and effects of such use
  • Failing to perform your roles at home, school, or work due to your use of the drug
  • Giving up or reducing other activities and events that may have been important to you, including friendships and work
  • Having difficulty controlling how you use the drug
  • Intense cravings for LSD
  • Spending a great deal of time and energy looking for, obtaining, and using the drug, as well as recovering from such use
  • Taking more of the drug than you originally planned or anticipated
  • Using the drug even in dangerous situations, like when you are driving

Treatment For LSD Addiction

Currently, there are no government-approved drugs that can be used to treat LSD use, tolerance, dependence, or addiction. However, this does not necessarily mean that you can't stop abusing the drug.

In fact, treatment options include inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, twelve-step programs, group counseling, individual counseling, and more. Abuse treatment involves addressing the psychological and social factors that caused you to start using the drug.

As always, the sooner you get started on a treatment plan, the more likely it is that you will soon stop using LSD and eventually get down to reclaiming your life.

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