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Lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD is a powerful hallucinogen that was first synthesized in 1938 from a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is also known as “acid,” “sugar cubes,” “trips,” “dots,” “blotter,” and dozens of other street names. Teenagers and young adults have popularly abused LSD at raves, dance parties and music festivals since the 1960s.

While the effects of LSD are unpredictable, its user may experience changes in mood, extreme emotions, or feel different emotions at the same time. Known by different names, LSD use causes one to experience a serious disconnect from reality that can last around 12 hours. When taken in large quantities, LSD causes its users to experience delusions and experience visual hallucinations.

Not considered by most to have physically addictive properties or cause drug-seeking behavior, LSD use can cause one to experience psychological addiction to the drug. An illicit drug with high potential for abuse, recovery from LSD abuse is possible. A comprehensive treatment for LSD addiction consists of withdrawal management through medically supervised LSD detox treatment at certified LSD detox centers along with behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help cope with daily life stressors and manage triggers and flashbacks.

What is LSD?

LSD is a powerful psychedelic drug that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions or awareness of themselves and their surrounding environment. Similar to other hallucinogens, it can also produce delusions and hallucinations – altered sensory and visual perceptions that seem real even though they are not – as well as highly unpredictable effects.

Some LSD users combine it with other drugs. “Candy flipping,” for example, is when people take MDMA (or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) with LSD. LSD lacks color, taste, and odor, but some people have reported that it has a mild bitter or metallic taste. It is dissolved into a liquid and then transferred onto a small paper square called a “blotter.” It is also commonly sold as microdot tablets, on sugar cubes, blotter paper or gelatin sheets that can be chewed or swallowed.

In the body and brain

During an “acid trip,” LSD users lose the ability to detect external stimuli from the surrounding environment and experience effects similar to psychosis including altered sensory and time perception, difficulty retrieving memories, and visual hallucinations. These effects are due to the action of LSD on major brain chemicals (i.e., neurotransmitters):

  • Glutamate, which is important for memory formation
  • Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT), which is responsible for regulating body temperature, mood, sleep, behavior, muscle control and appetite
  • The 2A receptor of serotonin, which affects impulsivity

 LSD Abuse: Physical effects

The effects of LSD, called an “acid trip,” kick in about 30 to 90 minutes after the drug is taken and can last for up to 12 hours. Some of the physical effects of LSD abuse include increased body temperature, blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure. Other physical effects of LSD abuse include dilated pupils, trembling or shaking (tremors), nausea, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and sleeplessness.

LSD Abuse: Psychological effects

Some of the psychological effects of LSD include feeling detached from oneself and the external environment, and distorted perceptions of senses and time. Following are some other short-term effects of LSD abuse.

  • Euphoria
  • “Crossing over” of senses (e.g., “tasting colors”)
  • Sleep problems
  • Confusion
  • Concentration problems
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Relaxation

People who take high doses of LSD are at risk of experiencing a “bad trip,” or a negative reaction to the drug. During a “bad trip,” users can experience panic, confusion, paranoia, extreme anxiety, and psychosis. “Bad trips” are also associated with disturbing hallucinations, poor judgment, sadness and out-of-control behavior that can involve injuring themselves or someone else.

LSD Abuse: Long-term effects

LSD does not produce compulsive drug use and drug-seeking behavior, so it is not considered to be an addictive drug. However, LSD users can develop tolerance to the drug and to other hallucinogens such as psilocybin (“Magic Mushrooms”) and can experience other unpredictable effects. In the days following its use, people may also feel tired, anxious, depressed and/or suicidal, have memory and sleep problems, and experience muscle and body ache as they are recovering from LSD.

Similar to other psychotic disorders, the use of LSD and other hallucinogens is associated with the development of a rare mental condition known as persistent psychosis, which results in paranoia, mood changes, disorganized thoughts, and visual disturbances. Continuing mental disturbances and flashbacks – re-experiencing aspects of an LSD trip – can also occur in the weeks and months following its use.

Hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD) is a condition associated with LSD and other hallucinogens that can lead to visual disturbances such as seeing trails with moving objects, halos around objects, objects appearing larger or smaller than normal, color flashes and visual hallucinations.

LSD addiction treatment

One of the less commonly abused drugs, treatment for LSD differs from other drug addiction treatments as it focuses more on behavioral therapies or counseling sessions that focus on behavior modification and psychological treatment. Recovery from LSD abuse begins with the individual’s assessment of drug abuse and any associated medical or mental health conditions.

A comprehensive rehabilitation program includes a supervised detoxification treatment that is followed by behavioral therapies or counseling sessions enclosed in a comprehensive addiction treatment program to achieve long-term recovery. While a detox program under supervised medical care helps get rid of any remaining LSD in the body and help in withdrawal management, behavioral therapies or counseling sessions helps users to manage triggers and flashbacks and provide individuals with necessary life skills to help them cope with daily life stressors.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

The longer the LSD abuse, the more unpredictable its effects and the longer one suffers from psychotic symptoms of LSD withdrawal. Sovereign Health of Arizona’s LSD addiction treatment program for women who have a hallucinogen use disorder due to LSD provides its patients with individualized, evidence-based treatment for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression as well as any co-occurring conditions at our all-female residential treatment facility.

As a dual licensed treatment center, what sets us apart is our holistic, medically informed approach to treating addiction-related disorders. A leading women-only rehab center, Sovereign Health of Arizona offers its patients a combination of evidence-based therapies such as CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), neurofeedback, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) along with many other forms of therapies including yoga, mindfulness-based therapies, equine therapy, psychoeducational and process groups as well as expressive arts groups. Our LSD rehab centers help women overcome abuse and dependence on LSD and other drugs.

For more information about the finest LSD treatment centers, near you, or the addiction treatment programs offered at our Chandler location, please call our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our team. You can even chat online with our representative for further assistance.

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