The Progression of LSD Addiction

The progression of LSD addiction

Despite the fact that LSD is not physically addictive, many other complications and disorders may result

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is one of the most popular hallucinogens available today – and definitely the most powerful. Its effects are highly unpredictable, which makes it exceptionally dangerous. In some users, it is said to provide unusual clarity or insight. In others, it leads to what might be described as a living nightmare. Many people have experienced panic attacks, deep paranoia and have even hurt or killed themselves while tripping.1

While Not Physically Addictive, LSD Can Lead Users Down a Dangerous Path

Despite the fact that LSD is not physically addictive, many other complications and disorders may result – in some instances, very rapidly.

From the first dose an individual takes, a “tolerance”begins to develop for LSD, as well as for other hallucinogens. This means that the user must take greater and greater amounts of this potent chemical in order to achieve a similar effect.

Psychological addiction can also occur with LSD use. The emotional attraction or dependence on LSD-induced images, sensations or means of escaping reality can produce this mind-based addiction. While different than the bodily craving found with physical addiction, psychological addiction can be a similarly powerful force.2

What Chain of Events Precipitates LSD Addiction?

There are several stages of LSD use that can lead to addiction. These graduating steps toward addiction include:

  • Experimental use – Often involving peers, LSD is typically taken for recreational use, for psychological escape from reality, or in defiance of parents or other authority figures.
  • Regular use – The user begins to miss more and more school or work. Worries about getting more LSD begin to dominate thought. Use as a way of “fixing” negative feelings becomes more frequent. Social activities tend to revolve around LSD and other drugs – less time is desired with family and non-using friends.
  • Problem or risky use – The user loses motivation. School or job responsibilities are shrugged off. There are obvious thought and behavior changes. LSD use is more important than all other interests, including relationships. The user becomes secretive. Dealing drugs may begin in order to support the habit. Use of other, harder drugs may increase. Drug cocktails are freely explored. Legal problems oftentimes escalate.
  • Addiction – Cannot face daily life without LSD. User denies that there is any “problem”. Downward cycle intensifies as the user’s tolerance to the drug increases and doses ramp up. The user experiences a loss of “control” over rational decision-making concerning drug use, as well as life in general. Suicidal thoughts may emerge, especially under the influence of “bad trip” hallucinations and delusions. Financial and legal problems get worries. Ties with family and friends are broken.

Much of how the brain and various segments of the population are affected by LSD and other drugs is still being researched. However, it is important to note that young people seem to move more quickly through these stages than their elders.3

Physical and Mental Indicators of LSD Abuse

Symptoms that would indicate that LSD is currently being used include:

  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature.
  • Dizziness and sleeplessness.
  • Nausea or loss of appetite, dry mouth and sweating.
  • Numbness, weakness and tremors.
  • Impulsiveness and rapid emotional shifts – ranging from fear to euphoria – with transitions so rapid that the user may seem to experience several emotions simultaneously.1

Short-Term Effects of LSD

The short-term general effects of LSD include:

  • Hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there) and delusions (believing what isn’t true).
  • Intensified feelings and sensory experiences (brighter colors, sharper sounds).
  • Mixed senses (such as seeing sounds or hearing colors).
  • Changes in sense or perception of time (like time going by very slowly).1

Long-Term Effects of LSD

The long-term effect of LSD can include:

  • Persistent Psychosis – This condition is characterized by visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia and mood disturbances.
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) – Ongoing issues involving hallucinations and other visual disturbances (such as seeing halos or trails attached to moving objects). Sometimes HPPD symptoms are mistakenly identified as neurological disorders (possibly stroke or brain tumor).

In addition, flashbacks of acid trip experiences may torment an individual – days, weeks, possibly even years after use has stopped. In some cases, these flashbacks have led to serious psychiatric complications.1

Key First Step: Findthe Right LSD Treatment Approach for You

Are you or a loved one struggling with LSD abuse? We offer a 24/7 toll-free line to provide valuable LSD addiction recovery assistance – assistance that is proven to work and provided with strict confidentiality. When you call us, one of our experienced team members will listen to you, address your concerns, answer your questions and provide you with some positive treatment options to carefully consider.

Oftentimes, there are other issues or conditions that serve to prompt drug use. Those foundational factors must be addressed in order to successfully achieve long-term recovery. We consider the “whole person” when evaluating needs and preparing an individualized treatment program. When you are ready to begin the healing process, we are too. We can even help you figure out what your insurance coverage will pay for this vital care. Rely on a name with a proven track record of success. We care…one person at a time.


1“Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/where-can-i-get-more-scientific-information-hallucinogens-diss , (February 2015).

2 Leshner, Alan I., Ph.D., former Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “The Essence of Drug Addiction”, NIDA, http://archives.drugabuse.gov/Published_Articles/Essence.html.

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