Serious psychological symptoms go along with chronic LSD use, many of them life changing for sufferers. A person who deals with paranoia or long-term sensory problems brought on by LSD benefits from the evidence-based counseling services offered through addiction treatment. Not all programs offer the same benefits, so it’s important to find a facility that offers dual diagnosis treatment to handle addiction and mental health.
LSD Use and the Brain
A person who relies on LSD as a way to escape reality and avoid day-to-day stresses may get caught in a cycle of dangerous mood shifts and chronic fear. LSD, often referred to as acid, is a hallucinogen created in a lab though a semi-synthetic process. Its chemical name, lysergic acid diethylamide, indicates its chemical composition; it’s partly made from ergot (a fungus found on spoiled rye) and synthesized chemicals that produce circulatory changes and affect neurotransmitters in the brain.
LSD is dangerous, because its effects are unpredictable. A person on an LSD trip never knows how she will react; the experience depends on her current surroundings and the amount of LSD taken. Other significant factors include her personality, mood and expectations. During a trip, a user experiences a variety of feelings and sensations, including seemingly real delusions and hallucinations that lead to panic. The effects of LSD last for up to 12 hours.
LSD also leads to lasting psychological issues, depending on a person’s genetic makeup. A person who takes LSD may experience flashbacks (sudden hallucinations and other mood disturbances) days or more than a year after using the drug. It’s also possible to develop hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which disrupts someone’s senses and thinking even when he’s not taking the drug. In some cases,it brings early onset schizophrenia. Even though LSD does not cause physical addiction, psychological addiction is common due to the euphoric feelings it sometimes produces.
What are the Types of LSD Abuse Programs?
Many treatment programs are available to help a person recover from LSD addiction. Some programs are residential while others offer treatment on an outpatient basis. Addiction treatment programs also vary widely with regard to methods and philosophies of treatment. Some might base their treatment on a 12-step approach while others might choose to follow a holistic or religious approach. Budget, lifestyle, severity of addiction, location and beliefs all influence a person’s choice of an LSD treatment program.
The most effective addiction programs offer counseling based on scientifically proven methods. Therapies that include patients in goal-setting sessions and teach skills for fighting drug cravings and managing stress offer the best outcomes. Evidence-based therapies include the following:
- Forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): therapies that explore the connection between thoughts and behavior teach patients how to identify and stop negative thoughts and be aware of triggers to use
- Contingency management: offers incentives to reinforce positive behaviors, such as avoiding drugs and alcohol
- Motivational enhancement therapy: used early in the treatment plan to engage a patient to participate in the process and see the benefit of making positive changes4
The goal of individual counseling is to teach a patient the skills to help her make better decisions in the present and future.
What Happens During Addiction Treatment?
LSD treatment focuses on the psychological aspects behind the addiction. It gets to the root issues of what’s behind the problem and aims to give a person the skills to handle life’s problems in a healthier way. A treatment plan might include the following methods:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Drug education classes
- Relapse prevention training
- Behavioral therapy
- Support groups4
Many cases of LSD addiction occur alongside other mental health disorders. These disorders either bring on an addiction or are accelerated by the addiction, since LSD has lasting negative effects on the brain. In the case of a pre-existing mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder or anxiety, these conditions must be treated alongside the addiction in order for a full recovery to take place. This is called dual diagnosis treatment. Treating co-occurring conditions, such as depression and addiction, at the same time leads to better outcomes and gives patients a higher chance of long-term sobriety. Fewer addiction treatment facilities offer dual diagnosis treatment, so it’s important to ask about treatment options before choosing a facility.
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 Shroder, Tom. (2014). ‘Apparently Useless’: The Accidental Discovery of LSD. The Atlantic. Retrieved Sept. 26, 2016 from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/the-accidental-discovery-of-lsd/379564/.
 Davis, Kathleen. (2015). What is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)? Effects and hazards of LSD. Medical News Today. Retrieved Sept. 26, 2016 from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295966.php.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What are hallucinogens? Drug Facts. Retrieved Sept. 26, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2016). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved Sept. 26, 2016 from http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders.