LSD Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a synthetic hallucinogen. Made from an acid compound found in a fungus, LSD is a schedule I controlled substance in the United States. As a schedule I substance, there are no current medical uses for LSD in the United States. LSD symptoms of use can vary, but often include:

  • Sensory enhancement
  • Alterations in time perception (e.g., a few minutes might feel like hours)
  • Stationary objects appear to move
  • Changes in thoughts and speech
  • An elevated mood

Many of the LSD symptoms of use depend not only on the person but the setting where someone takes LSD and a person’s psychological state at the time they use LSD.

Side Effects of LSD

When someone takes LSD, it affects the production of serotonin in their brain. Specifically, LSD stimulates serotonin receptor sites. This activation then causes changes in not only how someone sees and perceives what’s around them, but their interpretation of things around them. Many LSD side effects occur because of stimuli processing in the brain.

Typically, brains filter out unnecessary stimuli, but the activation of serotonin receptors with LSD use prevents that from happening. Using LSD can feel like overstimulation. LSD side effects can cause changes in thoughts, emotions and perception.

Many people who use LSD experience hallucinations that feel and seem very real. Specific LSD side effects may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Distortions in the shapes and colors of people and objects
  • More vivid or bright colors
  • Shaking
  • Lightheadedness
  • Changes in mood ranging from euphoria to confusion or anxiety
  • Distortions in the perception of time
  • Rapid thoughts
  • A sense of fear or terror
  • Feeling new insights

For most people, the start of LSD side effects begins within 60 minutes after taking it and can last anywhere from six to 12 hours.

Other potential short-term LSD side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature

LSD is an unpredictable drug, and it affects people differently each time it’s used. For example, there is a term called a bad trip, which is used to describe extreme fear and panic experienced after consuming LSD. It’s impossible to predict the effects of LSD, even if someone has previously taken it.

Long-Term Side Effects of LSD Use

One of the side effects of long-term LSD use is developing tolerance. When someone becomes tolerant of LSD, they won’t feel the desired effects after using. LSD is not physically addictive, however, so there aren’t withdrawal symptoms. Psychological addiction can occur without physical dependence.

Some of the other side effects of long-term LSD use include:

  • Long-term psychotic symptoms
  • Inducing schizophrenia in people already susceptible
  • Flashbacks

There is a condition called Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder or HPPD. This condition leads to the ongoing experience of the effects of LSD, months or even years after someone last takes it. These LSD flashbacks can include visual disturbances and can lead to anxiety and distress.

Signs of LSD Abuse

LSD isn’t addictive in the same way many other substances are, but that doesn’t mean LSD abuse doesn’t occur. Many people become psychologically addicted to the way LSD makes them feel, leading them to continue using it. Potential signs of LSD abuse include:

  • Acting impulsively
  • Continuing to use LSD in spite of negative effects or consequences
  • Rapid changes in mood or emotions
  • Disorientation
  • High blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia or panic

LSD affects people differently. Knowing the signs of LSD abuse can help people better recognize the presence of addiction in themselves or a loved one.

Find Help for LSD Abuse

If you recognize that you or a loved one are struggling with LSD, contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake. A representative will talk to you about LSD treatment programs, and help you find one that will work best for your needs. Call today. You deserve a healthier future.

Davis, Kathleen. “LSD: Effects and hazards.” Medical News Today, June 22, 2017. Accessed April 22, 2019.

NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What are hallucinogens?” April 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

Burgess, Lana. “What is Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder?” Medical News Today, March 16, 2018. Accessed April 22, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.