LSD Misuse: Effects and Withdrawal

LSD is a potent illegal drug, often used for its powerful hallucinogenic effects.1  This page will explore what LSD is, how it affects users, risks of use, and how to get help if you are worried about your LSD use.

What Is LSD?

Lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, is an illegal hallucinogen produced from lysergic acid, a fungus that grows on grains such as rye.1

People may take LSD orally as a capsule, tablet, dissolvable paper, in sugar cubes, or as a liquid.2

LSD Effects

As a hallucinogen, LSD affects a person’s mood, thoughts, and perception of reality.1 LSD typically results in intense or distorted visual, audio, or sensory hallucinations.1 The effect on mood may range from extreme happiness and warmth toward others to paranoia, fear, and confusion.1

But LSD’s effects can vary widely, and there are physiological side effects, or other potentially unpredictable effects that can occur, even if a person takes a consistent dose each time.1 Several factors can influence the effects of LSD, including: age, sex, mood, expectations, unique biology, and mindset.1

Other effects of LSD use include:1,2

  • Elevated blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature.
  • Dizziness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Tremors.
  • Enlarged pupils

Chronic use of LSD may put a person at risk for increased negative experiences and long-term effects such as engaging in dangerous or unusual behavior while on LSD, which can lead to potentially life-threatening injury.1

LSD Withdrawal Symptoms

Unlike many illicit drugs, there’s no clinically recognized withdrawal symptoms that occur when someone stops regular LSD use. However, traumatic experiences (“bad trips”) can have effects that last beyond the initial drug-taking experience, including mood and anxiety symptoms and, more rarely, flashbacks.1,3

This is what the DSM-5 recognizes as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, which is characterized by re-experiencing of perceptual symptoms of hallucinogen intoxication, which persists long after use and causes significant distress or impairment.3

How Is LSD Misuse Treated?

LSD is not considered to be addictive.1,4 It does not produce withdrawal symptoms nor result in dependence or drug-seeking behavior.1 However, chronic use of LSD or other hallucinogens can still lead to compulsive and uncontrollable use despite negative consequences (the definition of an addiction),5 which is diagnosed as hallucinogen use disorder.3

Hallucinogen use disorder, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), is diagnosed by evaluating a set of 11 criteria.3 Some of the criteria include:3

  • Taking larger amounts of a hallucinogen than originally intended or taking it for longer periods of time than intended.
  • Having a persistent desire to reduce or stop use of a hallucinogen but being unable to.
  • Repeated hallucinogen use that leads to failure to fulfill major duties at home, work, or school.
  • Continuing to use a hallucinogen despite its contributing or causal effect on recurrent social or relational problems.
  • Giving up previously important activities in lieu of hallucinogen use.
  • Using hallucinogens in physically dangerous situations.

For those who develop a hallucinogen use disorder, treatment is available. Patients in rehab may undergo a variety of therapeutic interventions and psychosocial approaches.6 Common therapies used in substance use disorder recovery include:6

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps a person to recognize drug use triggers and develop coping mechanisms to change their behaviors.
  • Contingency management. This form of therapy uses positive reinforcement, such as a reward system, to encourage healthy behaviors.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy. This therapeutic option helps people recognize their own readiness to change and set manageable goals for next steps.
  • 12-Step facilitation (TSF). This helps prepare people to become involved in a 12-Step mutual support group after rehab. Key themes in TSF include acceptance, surrender, and active engagement in recovery.

Southern California Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you care about are struggling to control LSD or other hallucinogen use, Laguna Treatment Center can help. Laguna is an Orange County rehab that offers multiple levels of substance use treatment depending on your needs.

Admission navigators are available 24/7 to assist you with the rehab admissions process, help navigate a rehab payment plan, and explain how to use insurance to pay for rehab. Caring and qualified staff will lead to through the beginning stages of recovery and your new life. Call us today at to begin your recovery journey.

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