Drug use, especially use of hallucinogens like LSD, is intertwined with social interactions. A group of friends who experiments with drugs encourages each other to keep using, as a way of maintaining social bonds and acceptance. Beyond the influence of drug-using friends, families with a history of addiction also subconsciously influence members to seek out drugs or turn to them in times of stress.
Adolescents and young adults are more at risk for drug use and addiction than older adults. Adolescent brains favor decisions that ignore risk in favor of rewards, such as the reward of social approval from friends by using drugs at a party. Young brains also are more vulnerable to the chemical changes made by drugs, making it more likely adolescents will develop an addiction.
LSD and Social Settings
LSD use exploded in the 1960’s along with other dramatic cultural changes during the decade. The drug’s psychedelic effects brought users hallucinations affecting all five senses and out-of-body experiences. Advocates of the drug in the 1950s and 1960s included celebrities like Timothy Leary (psychologist who researched LSD at Harvard University) and Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World and other books). People in the fields of psychology and the arts said LSD facilitated creativity and enhanced life. These ideas didn’t adequately address the risks of taking LSD, which include fear-induced panic attacks, unpredictable hallucinations and the possible onset of persistent psychosis.
Even as psychologists began experimenting with LSD in the early 1960s, other researchers grew concerned about the effects of LSD use. Leary and fellow Harvard psychologist Richard Halpert (now known as Ram Dass) left Harvard in the early 1962 and 1963 under pressure from the administration over ethics. They were accused of endangering students, particularly undergraduate students, by involving them in loosely styled experiments although undergraduates were prohibited from taking part. Even some graduate students who participated in the experiments said they felt pressured to take the drugs. One student, Allen Y. Cohen, said the experiments encouraged him to pursue a career in psychology and addiction treatment as a way to help others suffering with addiction. “You get high, but you always come down,” he said.3
Concerns about the dangers and consequences of LSD use prompted government intervention and the drug was made illegal. LSD was placed on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Schedule I in 1967. Around 1.2 million adults (age 12 and older) use LSD or another hallucinogen, according to 2014 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey estimates around 287,000 people are current LSD users.
Dangers of LSD Abuse
LSD is not physically addictive, meaning a person won’t experience withdrawal symptoms when he stops taking it. The drug does produce tolerance quickly. It may take double the dose to feel the same effects on the second day and triple the original dose by the third day. People who take LSD on a long-term basis are at risk for two serious conditions. It’s possible to develop persistent psychosis, which causes visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia, and mood changes. It’s also possible to experience flashbacks, or sudden hallucinatory experiences that occur without taking the drug. Flashbacks occur within a few days of stopping the drug or even more than a year after stopping.
Any LSD use produces highly unpredictable consequences. The psychedelic trips from LSD vary based on the amount ingested, the drug’s chemical composition, the user’s physical and mental health, mood expectation and the environment surrounding the user. LSD may bring on pleasant, euphoric effects, but these feelings often precede undesirable effects, such as intense mood swings, depression, paranoia, cluster headaches and a lost sense of reality that is frightening. Vivid sounds, illusions and feelings can be torturous to a user, and these unpleasant highs can persist for months, even years, causing flashbacks, nightmares and unprovoked hallucinations. In addition, LSD use may lead to anxiety, depression and a variety of other mental health problems.
Help for LSD Abuse
If you or someone you know abuses LSD, then call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to learn more about the drug, addiction and treatment options. Our admissions coordinators are available right now to assist you.
 Bellum, Sara. (2012). Why Does Peer Pressure Influence Teens To Try Drugs? NIDA for Teens. Retrieved July 12, 2016 from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/why-does-peer-pressure-influence-teens-try-drugs.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Adolescent Brain: Brief Description. Retrieved July 12, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/adolescent-brain.
 Kansra, Nikita and Shih, Cynthia W. (2012). Harvard LSD Research Draws National Attention. The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved July 12, 2016 from http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/5/21/harvard-lsd-project-leary/?page=1.
 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved July 12, 2016 from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What are hallucinogens? DrugFacts: Hallucinogens. Retrieved July 12, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.
 Olive, M. Foster. (2008). Drugs: The Straight Facts: LSD. Retrieved July 12, 2016 from https://books.google.com/books?id=t5F20qtRfEsC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false.