Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a psychedelic drug derived from a rye fungus chemical. This extremely potent drug is classified as a hallucinogen, and people use it to experience a mind-altering state. The “trip” that people experience lasts for about 12 hours, according to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World International.
When someone takes LSD, they can experience short-term and long-term effects. The short-term effects may include, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
The emotional shifts can change very quickly. It is also possible for a person to experience multiple emotions at the same time. For example, an individual can be euphoric but also be in a state of fear.
LSD acts on the brains’ serotonin receptors. Because of this, those who use LSD are at risk for psychotic reactions even when they are not actively using the drug. These may include long-term psychotic disorders, seeing bright flashes, experiencing flashbacks, and seeing trails or halos attached to objects that are moving, according to information published in Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
The long-term effects of this drug can include hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) and persistent psychosis, NIDA reports. Visual disturbances, paranoia, disorganized thinking, and mood disturbances may characterize persistent psychosis. With HPPD, people may experience hallucinations, neurological symptoms, and visual disturbances.
Tolerance tends to develop quickly when people use LSD. However, people do not tend to experience the compulsive drug-seeking behavior that they have with other drugs, such as heroin. This is believed to be due to the drug’s long duration of action, the inconsistent effects of LSD, and rapid tolerance, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research.
One study looked at cats to determine tolerance to LSD using a behavioral index. The researchers concluded that within 30 to 60 minutes after an initial dose of LSD, the felines demonstrated tolerance to this drug, according to a study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology.
The best way to deal with LSD tolerance is to stop using the drug. Since LSD usually does not cause physical dependence, most people only need to deal with psychological dependence. Even so, psychological withdrawal symptoms can be intense. Working with a substance abuse treatment facility can be helpful for getting through this period.
Every use of LSD is a risk, so seeking treatment is the best option for people who use LSD, even if their use is not frequent. Substance abuse specialists can aid people in creating a plan to stop use. There are inpatient and outpatient programs that people can choose from to overcome their psychological dependence on this drug.
Inpatient facilities are ideal for those who prefer to be fully immersed in the recovery process. People will live at the facility for the duration of their treatment. The length of the programs varies, and people can choose the length of stay that best meets their needs.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs include different methods for treating patients, such as:
Cognitive behavioral therapy is another common element of substance abuse treatment programs. This is a form of talk therapy that helps people to take their negative thoughts and behaviors and learn how to cope with them. People also learn how to respond to adverse situations more effectively, according to the Mayo Clinic.
There are different forms of cognitive behavioral therapy that someone might benefit from when they are working to stop using LSD. People in a treatment program will work with a counselor or specialist to determine which methods are the most beneficial for the individual. The different techniques that might be used include psychoeducation, skills training, cognitive reappraisal, and other behavioral strategies, according to research published in Psychiatric Clinics of North America.
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LSD typically does not cause physical withdrawal symptoms, but it can be addictive, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. People might develop a psychological dependence on this drug.
This dependence and rising tolerance may cause people to take more LSD to achieve the effects. This puts people at risk for overdose. Overdose has been observed in people taking 1,000 to 7,000 mcg (micrograms) of LSD at a time, according to research published in the Western Journal of Medicine. This research also stated that LSD at these dose levels has caused hyperthermia, coma, and bleeding in some people.
People who find themselves needing to take more LSD to achieve the trip they desire might consider taking a break. This can also be beneficial for any person who has overdosed on LSD. The symptoms of an LSD overdose may include, according to Medscape:
Those who have experienced a bad trip might also consider taking a break from using LSD. A bad trip may be characterized by confusion, scary images, panic, and sadness, according to TeensHealth from Nemours. It is possible to experience a “trip at any time with LSD, including with a user’s first experience.
As with any substance abuse, tolerance levels will reset over time. Again, the risk of overdose is high if someone returns to use after a period of abstinence. If the person takes the dose they were accustomed to before, when they had a tolerance in place, it may result in overdose once that tolerance is reduced.
It is ideal to seek help for stopping LSD use, whether someone is an occasional or regular user. This can help people to navigate the process better. It can also promote comfort while someone focuses on recovery.
What is LSD? Foundation for a Drug-Free World International. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/lsd.html
How Do Hallucinogens Affect the Brain and Body? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/how-do-hallucinogens-lsd-psilocybin-peyote-dmt-ayahuasca-affect-brain-body
(2018) Substance Abuse and Dependence. Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780702071676000543
LSD. Center for Substance Abuse Research. Retrieved December 2018 from http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/lsd.asp
(December 1983) Tolerance Develops to LSD While the Drug is Exerting Its Maximal Behavioral Effects: Implications for the Neural Bases of Tolerance. European Journal of Pharmacology. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0014299983903230
LSD. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/lsd
(March 1974) Coma, Hyperthermia, and Bleeding Associated with Massive LSD Overdoses. Western Journal of Medicine. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1129381/
(December 2015) LSD Toxicity. Medscape. Retrieved December 2018 from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1011615-overview
LSD. TeensHealth from Nemours. Retrieved December 2018 from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/lsd.html
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610
(September 2011) Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897895/