LSD is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug and one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals available. It is sold in tablet, capsule and liquid form. Recreational use is referred to as “tripping” and generally leads to highs that last up to 12 hours. When LSD (also called “acid”) enters the brain, it disrupts interaction of nerve cells and serotonin. This triggers hallucinations and creates profound distortions of reality. People under the influence of LSD may see, hear and feel things that do not exist. Other side effects include the following:
- Mood swings
- Terrifying thoughts
- Feelings of despair
- Intense fear of losing control
- Fear of insanity
Physical effects include the following:
- Elevated body temperature
- Raised heart rate
- Decreased appetite
Individuals who use LSD can also suffer from recurrences of the drug experience, termed “flashbacks,” without warning even after the chemical has left their systems. A condition known as hallucinogen-induced persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD) results when these disruptions persist and cause social and occupational impairment. “Acid flashbacks” are not fully understood, but within the scientific community three theories prevail. They include the following:
- Damage induced by LSD exposure may cause the brain to misfire and send incorrect signals.
- LSD may change the way the brain functions and perceives information, making it more sensitive to light and creating visual halos and trails.
- Some portion of the drug may get stored in the body or brain and released later.
There is no cure for HPPD, but people can recovery from psychological dependence on LSD through professional treatment centers. Although the drug is not considered addictive, abuse can lead to tolerance. That means that individuals must take larger doses of the drug in order to achieve the same effect. This is a risky practice given the unpredictable nature of the drug.
Trends and Statistics
During the 90s LSD use was primarily concentrated among young people—particularly suburban youth. A Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) report showed that more high school students used LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs than cocaine or crack. In fact, although drug use overall decreased during that decade, use of LSD increased slightly.
Since 2002 that trend has been reversing. Today, high school students report an especially low use of LSD, with only 3.5 percent of high school seniors reporting using the drug at least once. Other statistics include the following:
- 1.9 percent of eighth graders have used LSD.
- 2.5 percent of tenth graders have used LSD.
- 200,000 people use LSD for the first time each year.
- 9.7 percent of people over the age of 12 have used LSD once in their lifetime.
- 18 to 25 year olds are the age group most likely to first use LSD.
The following two factors may explain the steady decline in abuse of the drug:
- Decreased availability
- Growing awareness of potential dangers
Although use is not widespread, any abuse of the hallucinogen is dangerous. Seeking help quickly is the best way to maximize chances of recovery and protect your physical and mental health.
Recovery from LSD
If you or someone you love struggles with LSD use, you are not alone. Recovery counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour support line can guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Please call. Start your recovery today.