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Understanding LSD Addiction

LSD stands for Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. It is a hallucinogenic drug that takes the form of small squares of paper, often including patterns or pictures to make them more visually appealing. It can also be sold as a liquid or in pellets known as micro-dots. The small pieces of paper that LSD is typically known for are also called ‘blotters’ or ‘tabs’. These are dissolved on the tongue. LSD pellets are swallowed. Liquid LSD has no smell or taste at all, and is consumed by either being dropped onto the tongue or mixed into food and drinks.

People who take LSD often experience powerful hallucinations and a distorted view of the real world. This is known as a ‘trip’. Trips can last for up to several hours and can vary in their intensity. Some LSD users have good trips, while others have bad trips that feel like nightmares coming to life. There’s no exact way of determining how a user will feel when taking LSD. Once a trip begins, it is impossible to control where it will take the person under its influence.

LSD is commonly known as ‘acid’. Other street names include Window Trips, Tripper, Tabs, Stars, Smilies, Rainbows, Paper Mushrooms, Dots, Micro Dot, Blotter and Lucy.

What are the Effects and Abuse of LSD?

People who take LSD experience extreme distortion in their sensory capacity. Sounds, smells, images and objects can feel disturbing and weird. Every LSD trip is unique to the individual, and is affected by the amount of LSD taken, where the person is located and who they are with, how comfortable they feel, and their general mood. If the person taking the drug feels depressed, angry or generally in a bad mood, LSD will make these feelings more intense and much worse.

If a very small amount of LSD is taken, a person may not even notice its effects. If a large amount is taken, it may cause a person to go ‘into their head’, causing them to have difficulty communicating and speaking. They may be much quieter than usual and fixated on certain people, objects or sights, or may start demonstrating unpredictable and erratic behaviour, including extreme mood swings, paranoia and aggression.

 Common signs of LSD abuse are:

The amount of time that it takes for LSD to leave a person’s body depends on their weight and build, whether other drugs are in their system, if they have eaten previously, and the amounts of LSD taken. The drug can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours to take effect. It can show up in a urine sample for up to three days after it was taken.

There is no evidence that suggests that LSD can damage your physical health in the same way that stimulants and opioids can. However, people experiencing a bad trip can cause harm to themselves if they are frightened or feeling aggressive while under the influence. LSD can have more serious psychological and mental health complications for long-term users with a history of mental illness

What are the Warning Signs of LSD Addiction?

LSD isn’t considered to be an addictive drug, but the way it makes a user feel can be addictive. People generally tend to become addicted to the high or trips they experience after taking LSD, such as the visualisations, sounds and mental ‘revelations’ they may have. LSD may make someone feel as though they have ‘expanded their mind’. Over time, a tolerance develops, meaning that increasingly larger amounts of the drug are needed to have an effect.

There have been documented cases of prolonged, intense use, causing negative side effects such as paranoia or psychosis. During a trip, the following can occur

  • Sensory enhancement
  • Tremors
  • Confused senses (synesthesia)
  • Anxiety
  • Delusions
  • Problems with vision and depth perception
  • Flashbacks
  • Low mood and depression

Warning signs of a tolerance/addiction to the effects of LSD include:

  • Taking increasing amounts of LSD
  • Mixing LSD with other drugs to get a stronger trip
  • Spending money intended for other things on LSD
  • Neglecting work, hobbies and family life as a result of LSD use

A person can become tolerant to LSD within as little as three days. If the same amount is taken every day for three days, the user will feel that by the fourth day, they require more to feel a high. Regular abusers need more and more of the drug to achieve the same trip. The more intense the trip, the greater the chance that a user will experience a frightening or bad experience with psychological effects.

What Are LSD Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal effects associated with LSD usage are very different to those that occur under the influence of stimulants or opioids. The withdrawal symptoms tend to be more psychological than physical. That said, psychological withdrawal can be just as challenging for a person to overcome, and support is needed. An LSD detox can be required, especially if the user is using LSD alongside other more addictive substances like Heroin. Although LSD is not considered to be an addictive substance, psychological distress can occur as a result of withdrawal, with a user having symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia and depression. LSD and psychosis are frequently linked to each other. In rare and extreme cases, frequent users of LSD may find themselves experiencing persistent psychotic episodes, or Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPDD). Symptoms associated with this disorder include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Mood swings
  • Poor co-ordination
  • Visualisations and hallucinations
  • Flashbacks

Support for LSD Addiction

There are some comfortable side effects that a person will feel if they suddenly stop taking LSD after a period of dependence. LSD affects the chemical processes in the brain, creating serious psychological effects. Frequent LSD use can greatly affect the way a person communicates, thinks, feels emotions and behaves. If you or someone you love is struggling with LSD abuse or addiction, it is important to approach them in a way that will encourage them to seek help for their problem. Do your research, plan what you will say, and make sure that you have enough insight into the cause of their addiction. Many people who abuse drugs do not realise or will not accept that they have a problem, which can be the most difficult challenge to overcome.

If you know someone who has a problem with LSD but will not seek help or refuses to quit, you may be able to stage an intervention with their other family and friends. An intervention is a procedure carried out with the support of a medical professional or rehab facility, and involves the coming together of an addict’s friends and family to confront the individual about their addiction and to try and persuade them to attend rehab.

Treatment of LSD Addiction

Treatment for LSD addiction will depend on the severity of the individual’s symptoms. Where there are other drugs being used in conjunction with LSD, a 28-day detox and treatment plan of cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and group therapy might be necessary. Where LSD is the only substance being abused, in-patient or out-patient therapy may be required. Treatment will restrict access to LSD and other substances, and will enable professional medical staff to observe psychological effects of the LSD abuse during the early stages of abstinence. In cases where an individual is suffering from HPDD, medications can be administered to alleviate distressing and uncomfortable symptoms. Group and individual counselling sessions will enable the user to address the reasons behind their LSD addiction and their trigger points that make them crave the drug and take it. This will help the person to learn coping mechanisms and techniques to prevent relapse.