LSD Addiction: Signs, Side Effects, and Treatment 

By The Fix staff 01/21/15

LSD Addiction: Signs, Side Effects, and Treatment 

LSD Addiction

Have you or a loved one become addicted to LSD? This guide will give you all the information you need to know about LSD addiction, including the basic information about the drug, side effects, and guidance for seeking detox and rehab treatment.

LSD Addiction

LSD, also known as lysergic acid diethylamide and “acid,” is a common psychedelic or hallucinogenic drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), LSD  is perhaps one of the most powerful mood-altering substances,. The drug is made from a component of ergot, a fungus found on rye and wheat grains. LSD is illegal and classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. 

In use since the 1950s, acid is typically consumed orally, in tablet, capsule, or liquid-form. The liquid is frequently added to blotter papers, soda crackers, sugar cubes, candy, or stickers. In addition to being known as "acid", LSD also has the following street names: Back-Breaker, Battery Acid, Doses, Dots, Elvis, Loony Toons, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Pane, Superman, Window Pane, Zen, and others.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance drug was popular decades ago in therapeutic and religious activities. Furthermore, medical providers thought it to be a potential treatment for various psychiatric disorders and, therefore, administered the drug in clinical studies. However, the recreational use of acid has steadily grown in subsequent decades.

NIDA reported that adults ages 26 and older were most likely to use LSD. In 2013, 11% of adults ages 26 and older reported use of acid in their lifetime as compared to 6.5% of adults ages 18 to 25. Additionally, nearly 4% of 12th graders report using acid at some point in their lives. The 2013 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported that approximately 1.3 million Americans above the age of 12 had used LSD in the previous 30 days. 

Similar to other hallucinogens, like psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline, and salvia, LSD is potent. It does not seem to produce any of the common compulsive drug-seeking behavior that is present with other addictive drugs. However, those that use acid in conjunction with addictive drugs tend to abuse acid too. 

One of the signs of LSD addiction is the drug's tolerance effect on users, meaning that repeated use typically requires the user to up the dosage simply to achieve the same desired hallucinogenic effects. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tolerance can develop after 3-4 daily doses and can be extremely dangerous to users due to the unpredictability of LSD. In addition, cross-tolerance has been reported between acid and other hallucinogens.

LSD Addiction Side Effects

As with any substance, LSD use accompanies various side effects. LSD addiction side effects largely depend on the individual's personality and mood, the environment, and the amount taken. However, side effects can also be distinguished by short-term and long-term use of the drug. 


  • Mood-altering effects include changes in behavior such as experiencing numerous emotions at once or cycling through various emotions
  • "Trips," which may consist of thoughts of paranoia, losing control, and death
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased color perception
  • Delusions
  • Body image changes
  • Irregular flashbacks
  • Impaired depth perception
  • Impaired time and space perception
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making
  • Altered memory


Because of these impairments in perception, LSD users are strongly advised to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of the drug.


  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Numbness
  • Insomnia
  • Speech difficulties
  • Chills
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Tachycardia (irregularly fast heartbeat)
  • Hypertension
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Piloerection (goose bumps)
  • Fatigue the following day

Short-term Side Effects

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes the general effects of LSD as being felt within 10 minutes of intravenous administration. Oral ingestion enables effects to be felt within 20-30 minutes of ingestion. These effects peak at 2-4 hours and slowly decrease over a span of 6-8 hours.

Long-term Side Effects


The Brown University Health Promotion states that long-term use of LSD can exacerbate the regular symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and mania. Heavy use can also lead to hallucinogen-induced persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD). This involves persistent flashbacks from previous LSD trips that inhibit a user’s functioning and can result in extreme distress. These flashbacks may alter the perception of sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch and range from a few seconds to a few minutes. Other long-term side effects of acid use include:

  • Overdose from LSD has yet to occur, but the drug has been present in the systems of those who self-inflict injuries, commit suicide or homicide, or suffer accidental death
  • Pregnant women may experience miscarriages or have babies with birth defects if they use acid
  • Chronic acid use has been implicated in causing frustration, apathy, and disinterest in future goals and aspirations
  • Chronic use can also cause personal problems in acid users when they prioritize the drug over social connections or experience problems in occupational or school settings as well as financial, religious, or legal consequences
  • Younger individuals who use LSD heavily show difficulty with emotion-control, problem-solving, and overall immaturity
  • Continuous perception problems including time distortions, anxiety, and violent behaviors
  • Although LSD is not associated with physical dependence, psychological LSD withdrawal symptoms can occur. When heavy-use individuals feel they constantly need the drug, they may become panicky or anxious until they can use again

LSD Addiction Detox

Because acid lacks a physical dependence factor, detox is typically handled on a case-by-case basis. Most of the time, help is sought as a result of a "bad trip," when the user has harmed himself or someone else. In some cases, it may be best for an intoxicated individual to spend time in a stress-free environment with little sensory stimulation to come down from the high. According to Medscape, benzodiazepines are also used in emergency rooms or detox centers to safely treat the agitation that accompanies an acid trip. If a large dose of LSD was taken, supportive care may be necessary. High blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, and low or high blood sugar are treated as they occur. In addition, respiratory support and endotracheal intubation may be required.

LSD Addiction Rehab

While the resulting symptoms and physiological side effects of chronic LSD use may be managed in a hospital or emergency care center, rehabilitation is typically recommended. A person who heavily uses LSD will have difficulty staying off the drug on their own, especially when LSD addiction withdrawal symptoms occur. Rehabilitation of mental, physical, and emotional well-being is warranted. 

LSD addiction rehab can offer a safe and nonjudgmental environment for an individual to get better without outside distractions or the possibility of relapsing. A person in rehab receives the gift of quality time to focus on their inner struggles while surrounded by others who are going through similar ordeals. Plus, rehab enables one to regain physical strength and rebuild the damage done to the body as a result of long-term drug use. Cravings are managed and patients are reunited with their body in its natural state, without the need for a synthetic high. LSD addiction rehab offers the opportunity for a second chance.

Other benefits of an in-patient rehabilitation program include:

  • Around the clock staff and support
  • The ability to learn from and grow with others who are suffering from addiction
  • The opportunity to strengthen oneself physically and mentally in a drug-free environment
  • The well-needed structure of a program centered around personal needs
  • The opportunity to receive counseling and therapy for the issues that may have prompted you to abuse drugs in the first place
  • The opportunity to learn better coping skills to use for dealing with problems in the future
  • The ability to develop new friendships and a strong social support group that can be maintained even after you leave the program
  • Access to exercise and balanced nutrition to boost recovery, biologically

There are many benefits to participating in a rehab program for your LSD addiction. Don't wait another minute. Seek the help you need today.

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