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The Top Signs of LSD Addiction


Lysergic acid diethylamide is a psychoactive drug, meaning it alters the perception of reality and manipulates our senses. It manifests in creating enhanced auditory, visual and tactile sensations, other wise known as synesthesia or hallucinations. The results are different for everyone but for some, this altered state can be very pleasurable, which may lead to prolonged abuse.

Some quick history on the drug: A Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann, synthesized LSD during pharmaceutical research and accidentally ingested the substance. The effects he felt when on the drug eventually led him to use LSD as a psychiatric tool for studying his own psyche. Aside from this scientific practice, he did not recommend the drug for any sort of recreational use.

While LSD does not have any physically addicting capabilities, it can cause a major psychological dependence. A lack of physically effective dependency traits means that there are no withdrawal symptoms, however, LSD addiction is still dangerous because it can irrevocably change someone’s behaviors, thoughts and emotions.

Whether you’re approaching a loved one about their illicit drug abuse or you yourself are coming to grips with a dependency problem, there’s no doubt it is a difficult process. With the right support, information and commitment it’s not an insurmountable challenge. When battling dependency, it’s important to know the science and causes behind what’s affecting the body. Information and understanding gives you an element of control, and ultimately control is the final goal of overcoming addiction.

Effects of LSD

The U.S. Government classifies LSD as a schedule 1 drug under The Controlled Substances Act, and The National Institute on Drug Abuse considers it one of the most powerful drugs available. Why? Well, just 30 micrograms, roughly the size of quarter-inch square piece of paper, can induce effects for up to 12 hours.

Approximately 30-90 minutes after taking LSD one begins to experience an altered sense of reality. The senses begin to feel stimuli that aren’t really there. Hallucinations can manifest within all the senses — you may hear sounds, see colors, or feel textures that don’t exist. Users can feel as though time has slowed down or even increased.

Out of body experiences are common, and this is where things can become dangerous, because people aren’t making decisions as themselves anymore. Waves of emotions can take over in a matter of seconds, and if those emotions are negative it can cause people to lose control and make irrational, self-harming decisions. Users who experience “bad trips” may feel severe anxiety and panic, which brings on a nightmarish perception of reality that is seemingly inescapable.

There’s no way to predict whether someone is going to have a good trip or a bad trip, everyone is just wired differently and a myriad of factors come into play, such as dosage size, environmental circumstances, mental stability, or resistance. Those who do have good trips have reported feelings of enlightenment and euphoria — this is what usually leads people to take LSD repeatedly.  

Developing Tolerance

Research has shown that using LSD in excess can increase the user’s tolerance, making the hallucinogenic and perceptive effects much weaker. It creates a vicious cycle, the same way other drugs do, by causing the user to “chase the high”.

Building a tolerance to LSD can take as little as one week of once a day use. The tolerance can eventually diminish with decreased usage. When someone’s tolerance is high, they need to take higher doses of LSD in order to achieve the same level of effects. This not only demonstrates a form of psychological addiction it also puts them at a much higher risk for long term psychological damage or an LSD overdose.

Signs of Addiction

Research on the addictive properties of hallucinogens is ongoing, but as of now there is no evidence to show that LSD causes cravings the same way cocaine and heroin does. Rather, LSD addiction comes in the form of compulsive learned behavior. While the drug may not be chemically affecting the brain to cause addiction, users are still learning that LSD provides a desirable feeling that sober reality doesn’t offer. LSD addiction even has a different name — hallucinogen use disorder.

As with any drug, excessive use can take a toll on your personal life and career. Here are some signs that you may have an addiction to LSD:

  • Tolerance has increased so you are taking higher doses than before
  • Your social and work responsibilities have suffered due to LSD use
  • Pairing LSD with other substances in order to augment your high
  • Purchasing LSD has become a financial priority
  • Finding excuses or justifications to use
  • LSD is more often a drug that people take in a group setting. If your usage started out in a group setting but now you find yourself taking it alone, this can sometimes indicate a problem.

When to Seek Treatment

It can be tough to admit you or a loved one has a problem with LSD, especially because it’s not a drug that’s notoriously associated with addiction — unlike cocaine and heroin, users typically aren’t scrambling to get their hands on the drug everyday. Therefore, a sense of urgency for treatment may not dawn upon an LSD abuser right away. Here are some signs to help determine if it’s time to seek treatment:

  • Altered senses even when sober – visual/auditory hallucinations
  • Changes in the perception of time
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Naseau
  • Impaired coordination and reflexes
  • Dizziness – trouble balancing
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flashbacks

Major Risks of Abusing LSD

  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder – HPPD is a rare but long-term condition where a user will experience flashbacks on a regular basis. It can be a highly debilitating condition colored by disturbing psychosis, feelings of terror, paranoia and loss of identity.
  • Self Harm – Because of its psycho-altering properties LSD abuse has a strong propensity for causing self-harm. Users become delusional and their scattered thought patterns lead them to make irrational decisions. For instance, there are plenty of urban legends which mention people taking LSD, believing they can fly and then jumping from great heights. While it’s hard to confirm the validity of each specific story, there are several reported cases of bodily harm caused by LSD use (i.e., drowning, operating machinery, automobile accidents, etc).
  • Long-term psychosis – The psychoactive effects of LSD can cause irreparable damage to the brain’s central nervous system and emotional centers, leading to temporary/permanent severe depression, schizophrenia or psychosis.


When you or someone you know is ready to battle their addiction with professional help, they’ve already taken the hardest step.

The first thing to expect is an intake evaluation of your addiction. Medical professionals need to know the severity of the abuse in order to determine the most suitable treatment plan. Like any other condition, they will also need to see your medical history. Be prepared to produce specific health related documents.

There are several different types of rehab centers and ways to receive treatment, but generally speaking this an outline of what you can usually expect to encounter:

Detox – Expunging all traces of LSD from your system is the first step to recovery. The physical withdrawal symptoms can be very challenging with some drugs, but the symptoms with LSD are  different; if your dependency on LSD is severe enough there’s a good chance you will experience psychological withdrawals. Psychoactive drugs like LSD alter the neurotransmitters in your pleasure centers, (dopamine and serotonin) thus the withdrawal symptoms will usually involve some form of depression or psychosis.

Rehab/Therapy – Once the drug is eradicated from your system the next step is correcting the behavior which led to continuous abuse. You will usually be assigned to a dedicated psychologist or counsellor who will facilitate behavioral therapy. At the root of it, the goal of behavioral therapy is to relearn everyday activities and practices without LSD. A therapist will work to detach you from all of the habits you associate with taking LSD.

Recovery/Return to Life – Once rehab therapy is complete it’s time to return to regular life. This can be challenging because the consistent help of a treatment group is no longer there everyday. But most treatment programs design a specific plan to help reintroduce you to your life, with intermittent check ups to help you maintain your sobriety.

Types of Rehab Centers

Inpatient Facilities

The most popular and arguably the most effective type of treatment center, inpatient facilities are designed for round the clock supervision and programming of drug abusers. The lack of distractions and variables from the outside world allow trained rehab professionals to guide every step of the treatment process and ensure that patients are in control. Again, control is always the goal when it comes to addiction.

Outpatient Facilities

Outpatient Treatment programs – Patients spend the day, at a treatment facility participating in scheduled group and individual therapy sessions. Health care professionals are onsite and work with the user to overcome their addiction, the main difference is patients do not spend the night.

Intensive therapies – Similar to regular treatment programs, however patients will typically have a minimum amount of hours per week which they must attend the facility. This is a good option for people who have daily responsibilities or for those who have completed inpatient treatment and are now trying to maintain sobriety.

12 Step Programs – They are free and very accessible in most cities, which makes them a very popular option. One major benefit is that you have a strong support group and a safe forum to speak which is a very therapeutic and effective method.

Holistic – It may not be for everyone, but many have found success with focusing in on specific spiritual, mental, physical and emotional aspects of addiction — something that common therapy doesn’t address. For instance, mediation, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and yoga can all help you regain balance in your life.

Youth & LGBTQ – There are specifically designed programs to meet the needs of specific groups, who may not feel comfortable in a regular treatment center. When overcoming addiction, it’s very important to be comfortable and at ease — stress is a common trigger for relapse.

Benefits of Rehab

Support – Support is arguably the number one catalyst for beating addiction. In a treatment

facility you are surrounded by people going through the same thing as you are, making it

an easy place to form bonds and relationships.

Structured program – Treatment professionals have a specially designed

regimen of activities and therapeutic support sessions to keep patients focused and committed.

Therapy – Helps you identify the underlying compulsion that leads to your LSD use.

Psychological care – Using LSD is usually motivated by some sort of underlying psychological

factor such as anxiety, depression or trauma. Trained psychologists can help you identify the

root of your problem and exercise your way through it.

Medication – The doctors can prescribe you medication to repair your underlying psychological

conditions or any other afflictions you may have related to drug abuse.

Life After Rehab

In many cases, drug addiction can be a lifelong battle, even after successful treatment, there’s always the potential to relapse. Especially because many people who have suffered serious bouts of addiction also develop subsequent psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Ongoing therapy is crucial towards monitoring the underlying thoughts and behaviors which motivate drug abuse. Avoiding old habits and triggers associated with using can be regulated by a consistent regimen of weekly or monthly therapy check ins —narcotics anonymous is a popular program for this purpose. These programs are tremendously helpful with maintaining sobriety because they are filled with people who are all going through the same struggle and everyone is ultra supportive of each other’s goals.

Final Thoughts

The best way to battle LSD symptoms of addiction is knowledge and understanding of what you are taking. Knowing how it affects you and what the long-term detriments are will provide a sense of awareness. Awareness is the first step towards admitting you have a problem, and this is what puts you back in control. That’s only the beginning on the road to recovery — the next steps don’t get any easier, but with the right treatment plan and support group you can recapture the life you had before LSD.  

If you or a loved one is suffering from an LSD addiction, seek help with Luminance Recovery. Our Orange County rehab center provides a safe and positive environment for any recovering addict. Contact us today.

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