LSD, or d-lysergic acid diethylamide, is a powerful hallucinogen that was first synthesized in 1938 from a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is also sold 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.

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.

LSD 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

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 include increased body temperature, blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure. Other physical effects of LSD include dilated pupils, trembling or shaking (tremors), nausea and loss of appetite, dry mouth and sleeplessness.

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. Other short-term effects of LSD include:

  • 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.

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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, reported the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In the days following use, people may also feel tired, anxious, depressed and/or suicidal, have memory and sleep problems, and experience muscle and body aches 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 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

Sovereign Health of Arizona’s LSD addiction treatment programs for women who have a hallucinogen use disorder due to LSD provide women with comprehensive treatment programs for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression as well as co-occurring conditions at our all-female residential treatment facility.

We offer LSD detox to women recovering from LSD. Treatment for LSD addiction also includes a combination of evidence-based and complementary treatments, experiential activities and individual, group and family therapy. Our LSD rehab centers help women overcome abuse and dependence on LSD and other drugs.

For more information about Sovereign Health’s LSD treatment centers or the treatment for LSD at our Chandler location, contact our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our team.

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