Is LSD Abuse Changing?

Is LSD Abuse Changing?

LSD abuse declined the 1980s, increased in 1990s and declined again after the year 2000

While rates of LSD use have fluctuated dramatically since its creator, Albert Hoffman, first synthesized it in 1938, survey data indicates epidemic-like growth in the use of LSD and other hallucinogens since the 90s. Unlike the European club scene escalation – which is primarily MDMA (or ecstasy) use by adults in their 20s – the biggest rise in hallucinogen use in America seems to be with LSD use by teens.

LSD and MDMA are just two of the “club drugs” commonly seen at the all-night dance parties – such as raves or trances – as well as dance clubs and bars. While much of the heavy use takes place in such venues, the sharing of these preferences and the popularity of these behaviors doesn’t just happen at clubs, so this growing drug use trend might best be described simply as a “hallucinogen epidemic.”1

How LSD Abuse Became a Widespread Problem

While the 60s in the U.S. saw LSD banned from medical use – as members of the pop culture quickly took to it for recreational or experience-enhancing use –U.S. hallucinogen consumption in the new millennium continues to be generally associated with the “higher educated” populations. America’s inner-city subcultures, who have historically tended to get in trouble with both drug misuse and the law, appear to have been excluded from club drug venues and, thereby, have not adopted the use of hallucinogens.

The fact that inner city youth were likely direct observers of the devastation from heroin injections and crack epidemics in past decades may be a major factor in this population’s aversion to hallucinogens. Young people from more fortunate economic circumstances have been rarely involved in such real-life, street “drug education.”1

How Prevalent Is LSD Abuse in the U.S. Today?

Individuals of all ages use LSD. Data reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicate that an estimated 20.2 million U.S. residents aged 12 and older used LSD at least once in their lifetime. The survey also revealed that many teenagers and young adults use LSD –742,000 individuals aged 12 to 17 and 4.5 million individuals aged 18 to 25 have used “acid”(or lysergic acid diethylamide, as it scientifically identified) at least once.

Use of this reality-bending drug among high school students is a particular concern. More than eight percent of high school seniors in the U.S. used the drug at least once in their lifetime, and nearly four percent used the drug in the past year, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey.2

One study reported that the U.S. ranks first among 36 nations in the proportion of high school students ever using LSD or other hallucinogens in their lifetime (6 percent versus 2 percent in Europe).3

Regardless of the Trends, the Risks Remain the Same

The effects associated with LSD use are unpredictable and depend upon the amount taken, the surroundings in which the drug is used, and the user’s personality, mood and expectations when taking it.

Some LSD users experience a feeling of despair, while others report terrifying fears – of losing control, going insane or dying. Some users have suffered fatal accidents while under the influence of LSD.

LSD users often have flashbacks – during which certain aspects of their LSD experience recur – even when they have stopped taking the drug. In addition, LSD users may develop long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression.

LSD is not considered a physically addictive drug – that is, it does not produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior the way cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine do. However, LSD users may develop tolerance to the drug, meaning that they must consume progressively larger doses of the drug in order to continue to experience the hallucinogenic effects that they seek. Furthermore, a psychological addiction can occur.2

Get Help from the Experts Who Know LSD

If you or someone you love struggles with LSD abuse or addiction, we invite you to contact us immediately. When you call on our 24/7 toll-free line, a friendly, caring voice will listen to you describe your specific needs and situation, address all of your questions and concerns, and offer some positive options for you to consider. We will even help you determine how much your insurance coverage will pay for this vital care. Don’t place yourself in incompetent hands. More than ten independent studies confirm that we have an effective and successful approach to dealing with LSD and other drug abuse situations, as well as mental health conditions. Trust us. We care…one person at a time.


1 Golub, Andrew, Ph.D., et.al., “Is the U.S. Experiencing an Incipient Epidemic of Hallucinogen Use?”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2564966/

2“LSD Fast Facts”, National Drug Intelligence Center, https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs4/4260/index.htm .

3 “Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/why-do-people-take-hallucinogens , (February 2015).