How LSD Abuse Complicates Mental Health Issues

How LSD Abuse Complicates Mental Health Issues

A “bad trip” may trigger anxiety, paranoia and despair

LSD – known as acid and many other names – is a powerful hallucinogen that can produce a “high” for approximately 12 hours. While users are “tripping,” they may experience not only a distortion of reality, but any number of physical or psychological side effects.

While LSD is not physically addictive, it can be extremely dangerous nonetheless – not to mention psychologically addictive, due to the feeling of euphoria it produces. While users may find some aspects of a high to be pleasant, people on LSD oftentimes exhibit poor judgment and create dangerous situations for themselves and others. Furthermore, a “bad trip” may trigger anxiety, paranoia and despair that can lead to self-harm and, in extreme cases, a suicide or homicide attempt.1

What Mental Health Disorders Can LSD Cause?

While these symptoms and inclinations typically only last while users are high, permanent psychological effects have resulted for some users – in some cases, after just one use. It has been determined that LSD can make existing mental health issues worse or cause latent mental disorders to emerge.2

Underlying mental disorders usually increases a user’s vulnerability to long-term psychological conditions. However, even those individuals who do not exhibit any sign of psychological irregularities prior to use may experience psychological issues after taking LSD. A couple such conditions include:

  • Psychosis – This is characterized by the loss of cognitive and communication skills, dramatic mood swings, delusions and hallucinations. With “persistent psychosis,” a person experiences a series of continued mental issues, including disorganized thinking, visual disturbances, mood swings and paranoia.3
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD or hallucinatory “flashbacks”) – This is characterized by ongoing sensory disturbances that are similar to those experienced while tripping on LSD. A chronic, debilitating condition, HPPD warps the perceptual faculties. After-images, image trails, bolts of light, snow-like sparkles and blobs of floating color are some of the possible visual drama that may accompany this condition.

LSD’s psychotic episodes can trigger mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, in people who are genetically predisposed to them.4

Do Psychedelics like LSD Pose a Paradigm Shift in Mental Health Care?

Some people who suffer from a psychological condition use LSD to escape their pain or problems. Because this drug can alter their emotions and perception of reality, it may bring some temporary relief or even clearer thinking. But what are the long-term effects? Do we know? Not really…not yet. Many who have conducted research studies in recent years are excited about the possibilities nonetheless.

Several medical journals have come out with reports suggesting benefits to patients with mental disorders. These reports highlight the “enormous potential of substances like LSD” in treating a variety of conditions. Preliminary studies have shown that positive results can come from short courses – even single sessions – of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. “The studies are showing big effects,” Dr. Matthew Johnson, a behavioral pharmacologist at Johns Hopkins University and one study’s author.

LSD may be therapeutic for those with depression and other mental conditions because it can expose repressed emotions and thoughts. Even professionals who have extensively researched this theory say it would ideally be limited, monitored and used for short-term treatment. Attempting to treat depression or a mental disorder with LSD “on your own” could worsen symptoms; sudden exposure to repressed material can be very frightening and disturbing…possibly leading to rash decisions that could be disastrous.5

Can LSD Addiction and Mental Disorders Be Treated Simultaneously?

Yes! Quality drug treatment centers like ours have the expertise and capabilities for serving patients with many co-occurring conditions. Dual diagnosis is the term for patients who are found to have multiple disorders. Each interconnected health condition needs to be treated in a fully integrated, evidence-based program in order to achieve any long-term healing and recovery from these disorders individually.

Regardless of whether LSD has produced a mental disorder or your mental struggles have led you to LSD abuse, please be warned: Don’t endanger your psychological health or the physical health of others any longer. By calling our 24/7 toll-free line,information, treatment options and answers to all of your questions are readily available to you for the asking.No obligation or strings attached. Situations like those we’ve described are too hazardous to handle on your own. Count on specialists who have shown excellence, trustworthiness and a tremendous amount of success. We care…one person at a time.


1 “Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs”, Research Report Series, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/hallucinogensrrs.pdf , (January 2014).

2 “Comorbidity of Mental Disorders and Substance Use”, Dept. of Health & Ageing, Australian Govt., http://www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/FE16C454A782A8AFCA2575BE002044D0/$File/mono71.pdf .

3 “DrugFacts: Hallucinogens”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens , (January 2016).

4 “A Trip that Doesn’t End”, The New Yorker, http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/a-trip-that-doesnt-end , (May 17, 2013).

5“Psychedelics Could Trigger a ‘Paradigm Shift’ in Mental Health Care”, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/psychedelics-mental-health-care_us_55f2e754e4b077ca094eb4f0 , (September 16, 2015).