Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is an illegal drug that causes hallucinations. LSD abuse can lead to ongoing mental health challenges, including flashbacks that recur for many years as well as triggering the onset of schizophrenia in people who are predisposed to the disorder.
What Is LSD?
LSD is a semi-synthetic hallucinogenic that comes from a fungus. LSD is also combined with a chemical called diethylamide.
When someone takes LSD, it stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain through the activation of serotonin receptors. The additional serotonin flooding the brain changes how stimuli process. That reaction causes a sense of overstimulation that can alter a person’s perceptions, emotions and thoughts.
Someone consuming LSD can experience hallucinations that can involve one or more of the senses. For example, a person on LSD may see different colors or hear sounds that don’t exist. There’s also a blending of senses that can occur, also known as synesthesia. Someone experiencing synesthesia might hear colors or see sounds.
Is LSD Addictive?
LSD isn’t physically addictive. However, that doesn’t mean that consuming LSD isn’t problematic. Psychological addiction can occur when someone uses LSD regularly. When someone is psychologically addicted to LSD, they might be addicted to how LSD makes them feel or they could become attached to certain experiences that occur when they use LSD. Additionally, one of the biggest risks of using LSD is the fact that it can induce a psychotic state that may be long-term, as well as triggering schizophrenia in people who are susceptible to it.
Understanding LSD Abuse
Along with psychological addiction and the potential for severe psychological side effects, tolerance can also occur with prolonged LSD abuse. The human body develops a tolerance to LSD quickly. Someone will likely need higher doses after using it only a few times consecutively, and this puts them at risk for taking such a high dose of LSD that it becomes dangerous or deadly. Signs of LSD use include:
- Dilated pupils
- Altered functionality in daily life
- Impaired coordination
- Increased body temperature
- Changes in behavior or emotion such as being very emotional
- Experiencing anxiety or panic attacks
- Memory loss
What Are LSD Flashbacks?
Another significant risk with LSD use, especially ongoing use, is flashbacks. What are LSD flashbacks? LSD flashbacks lead to disturbances in perception and sensory experiences that can affect what you hear, feel, taste, smell and see. LSD flashbacks can feel like they’re legitimate experiences. For some people, these flashbacks can seem like they’re on the drug again, even if it’s been weeks, months or years since they last used LSD.
For someone who experiences severe, distressing or uncontrollable flashbacks, it can be diagnosed as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). Symptoms of HPPD include:
- False perceptions of movement in the peripheral vision
- Inanimate objects appearing alive
- Flashes of color
- Halos appearing around objects
- Objects appearing bigger or smaller than they are
People experience LSD flashbacks for different durations. The length of time varies per person, potentially lasting for hours, weeks, months or years and they may come and go in episodes. Sometimes LSD flashbacks may subside on their own over time, which can signify a mental health problem that may require treatment.
Find Help for LSD Abuse
If you or someone you love abuses LSD for its side effects, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake to speak to a representative to learn how personalized treatment can address your substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health concerns. Take the first step toward a healthier future. Call today.
Davis, Kathleen. “LSD: Effects and Hazards.” Medical News Today, June 22, 2017. Accessed April 12, 2019.
Hartney, Elizabeth. “Flashbacks Disorder When Taking Acid.” Verywell Mind, October 8, 2018. Accessed April 12, 2019.