What is LSD?
Lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, or Acid is an illicit drug used recreationally to alter the way a person perceives reality. When individuals use LSD, the desired effects sought after include:
- Seeing/ feeling/ hearing sensations that are described as surreal or dream-like
- A trance-like or dream-like state
- Change in mood, sometimes described as blissful
As a drug, LSD’s potent effects are long-lasting. But its addictive properties can be more psychological than physical. In recent times, persons experimenting on LSD have turned to “microdosing”, with the intention to ease some anxiety or mood-related concerns.
Street LSD (Acid)
When LSD is consumed, it can be:
- On small dot on blotted paper (in liquid form)
- A pill
- A powder form
Usually, 70 micro milligrams of LSD is enough to elicit an effect. But the typical dose is 100-200.
How long LSD’s effect lasts can be:
- At the start of the first fifteen minutes
- An hour to four hours (what most users report) Up to 12 hours for prolonged effects
Some street terms associated with LSD use are:
- Trip: A trip is a span of time where a person is under the influence of LSD. Saying a person is having an LSD trip is like saying a person is currently intoxicated with alcohol.
- Tripping: the act of using LSD to achieve perception-altering results
- Acid freak: a person who uses LSD quite often
Street names for LSD include:
- Acid/Battery acid
- Pane/ Window pane
Evidence so far does not lead experts to conclude that LSD is physically addictive. However, using the drug can pose hazards to a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health, and can lead to addiction.
Physical harms associated with LSD are:
- Risk of overdose, which can result to a visit in the A&E
- With vulnerable individuals – a risk of developing schizophrenia; usage can trigger a psychotic state, or can trigger re-occurring negative flashbacks
- Risk of developing severe disorientation (person does not know where s/he is and what is going on.
Individuals with the greatest chance of developing negative symptoms include persons who are possibly:
- Diagnosed with a mental health condition
- Having problems controlling their alcohol consumption, or has alcohol addiction.
- Using other illicit drugs (called poly-drug use)
- Using prescription medication, especially anti-anxiety and/or antidepressants
- Using other prescription medications, like Opioid painkillers, Gabapentin and Pregabalin
For persons who have developed a habit of using LSD, there is a greater chance of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), otherwise known as LSD addiction. The symptoms of HPPD include:
- Using more LSD than originally intended
- Spending more time using or acquiring LSD
- Ignoring other activities previously enjoyed, especially social activities
- Using LSD even in the face of potential financial or social troubles
- Failing marks in school or work, or absenteeism
- Person will be distressed if LSD access is threatened or prohibited
- Person has a defensive stance when the use of the drug is the topic of contention
- Having cravings to use the drug at a regular rate
- Becoming tolerant to the drug in such a way that a higher dose is needed to feel the sought-after effects
- Person begins to use LSD as a way to cope with everyday stressors
Because of the recent trend of microdosing, some persons find it advantageous to incorporate LSD into their daily habit. Reportedly, positively experiences connected to LSD are:
- Easing of anxiety and/or depression
- Boosting creativity
- Better artistic endeavours
- Regulation of ADHD
- A relaxed, peaceful state
- Experiencing a spiritual/mystical state
Currently, this microdosing trend is under investigation. In the UK, a clinical trial of LSD microdosing is underway, while at the same time, another on-going nonclinical microdosing study involving several countries is ongoing.
If these studies are successful, experts can start the process of harnessing the potential benefits of clinical-grade LSD. The ultimate achievement is to safely make the drug available to help cure mental health conditions.
Supposedly, these health conditions include alcohol addiction, insomnia, and depression. If the drug is found to be effective, clinical-grade LSD can even be used to enhance creativity and thinking ability. Until then, usage of street-grade, (not clinical-grade LSD) is risky.
Whilst a laboratory-produced dose of LSD would ensure that drug is fit for human consumption, LSD found in the streets can:
- Contain other substances other than LSD
- Have inaccurate dosage, making street LSD consumption a hit-and-miss affair
- Be risky for persons who have current health concerns (heart problems, mental health conditions, and do on)
More so, under British laws, LSD is controlled as a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Persons who microdose can run into possible legal problems if caught possessing the drug.
Developments that fuel the trend of micordosing are:
- Establishment of an agreed-upon regimen
- On-line interchange about micordosing, with anecdotal testimonies of its positive effects on emotional and/or physical health
- Starter kits for sale online, covering tests for correct dosage and/or drug purity
- Personality-driven promotion of LSD as a form of alternative medicine
- The appeal that LSD boosts creativity and productivity
- The possibility of having a mystical/spiritual connection after using the drug at regular intervals
LSD users complain about “bad trips”. These are experiences where the sought-after hallucinations are negatively themed, and can cause a user emotional distress. Bad trips can be disturbing because:
- The person can see/feel/taste/hear unpleasant things that are not really there
- These unpleasant stimuli can be associated with unpleasant past events, even traumatic events
- If the person is in an unhappy mood, the unhappy mood worsens
- If the person is frightened, the hallucinations can cause panic or paranoia
Physical side effects include:
- Fever-like symptoms (increased temperature)
- Fast heartbeat
- Slow reflexes/clumsiness
Physical side effects are underreported with LSD use. Instead, persons who use LSD complain most about psychological side effects.
Side effects that are unfavourable to a person’s mental/emotional health include:
- Flashbacks, especially of painful life events
- Fear or anxiety triggered by disturbing hallucinations
- LSD addiction and/or tolerance
- Usage of LSD with other recreational substances
- Under the influence of LSD, the person is prone to make unreasonable choices that can lead to accidents
Most likely, LSD sold in the streets may not be 100% LSD. Sometimes laced with other substances, the use of the drug can cause complications by accidentally introducing a person to other illicit substances. Or the tainted drug may lead to complications caused by another substance.
As the manufacturing process of LSD is done in secret, the correct dose cannot be ascertained all the time. Effects can vary depending on the “brand” or batch of drug produced. This is quite dangerous because unlike medicines that can be bought openly in standard doses, LSD’s effects are likely unpredictable.
Risk of Overdose
Most cases of LSD overdose happen when the person is taking another drug along with LSD. These drugs can include:
- Ecstasy/ MDMA
- Prescription pain medication (especially Opioid Painkillers)
- Stimulants (like Adderall®, Concerta®, Ritalin®)
But overdosing on LSD alone is not a common complaint. If and when it does happen, the following symptoms can be found:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Fever/Increased body temperature
- Breathing problems
- In severe cases, coma, which if not intervened, can be fatal.
In a rehab clinic, dealing with poly-drug use or the misuse of several drugs at once can be handled professionally by addiction experts. A reputable centre with 24/7 care can provide secure means for persons seeking LSD detox, and stop using LSD along with other drugs. With poly-drug use, assessment and continuous checks are crucial because of health concerns.
Tolerance to LSD develops quickly.
A dose taken for three consecutive days will not usually elicit another response on the next dose. As a result, persons may need to take a higher dose to produce the sought-after effects of the drug.
But increasing the dose exposes a person to the risk of “bad trips”. The combination of being in an emotional state and using LSD can lead to trips that are distressing. To avoid these negative experiences, a person may attempt to withdraw from the drug by scaling down the use or quitting “cold turkey”.
Research evidence does not point to specific physical signs of withdrawal from LSD. It is apparent that psychological withdrawal is felt more often than physical LSD withdrawal symptoms.
With chronic (long-term) use of LSD, these psychological symptoms show as:
- Cravings for LSD
- Mild jitteriness/nervousness
- Person can be distracted or can find it hard to focus on tasks (especially tasks that they used to do while using LSD)
- Reactivity (quick to anger) with minor stressors
- If the person used LSD to alleviate low feelings, low or depressive feelings may be pronounced
These psychological symptoms vary from person-to-person and can be subject to several factors. One of the most important determinants is the person’s emotional/mental health status prior to establishing the use of LSD as a regular routine.
Most persons can withdraw from the use of LSD alone without intervention or professional help.
However, compared to withdrawal from other addictive substances, with LSD there are three important things to consider:
- The use of other mind-altering substances together with LSD
- The persons’ beliefs about LSD as a beneficial drug that can be taken in small doses
- These three issues are addressed head-on in a n abstinence-based centre such as Abbeycare.
In a rehab clinic, professionals can also help persons cope with “flashbacks”. These are “trips” that occur days after the use of LSD has stopped. But because the drug can stay in the system for a longer amount of time, a trip, can be triggered by stress.
The stress of not using LSD can trigger a flashback, (as any other stressor can trigger a flashback). When flashbacks happen, they can be draining, and can sometimes cause an emotional breakdown. Being in a professionally supported environment can be comforting during these times. Counseling, therapy, and social support with empathic persons can help remarkably with LSD withdrawal.
LSD Treatment: Detox > Rehab > Aftercare
How it’s Misuse Treated? What is Addiction Treatment?
In a specialist rehabilitation clinic, there are three distinct steps in treatment and to help a person recover from LSD addiction or misuse. These three steps are LSD detox, rehab (incorporating therapy), and rehab aftercare. Representing a comprehensive programme, these three steps arm individuals with tools necessary to live a sober lifestyle.
What is a LSD Detox?
In a rehab centre, experts can monitor health-related concerns that can affect withdrawal from LSD. Although for the most part, LSD withdrawal symptoms affect a person more emotionally than physically, there are circumstances when a person can be vulnerable. With full-time care available, these possible risks can be minimised.
Professionally assisted LSD detox allows persons to remove themselves from environments that can trigger or encourage the use of LSD (even if these triggers are not acknowledged). Having a supportive environment in LSD detox eases the person to the next stage where significant changes in behaviour are lead to happen.
At the Abbeycare Clinic, the standard 28 day programme is used for LSD Rehab. This programme can address the problems associated with LSD use because:
- Structured therapeutic sessions – help a person understand underlying causes of LSD use
- Immersion in a mutual aid addiction programme – helps the individual recover with peer support
- Personally assigned care manager – helps with the continuity of care, so that progress is monitored and suggestions are specific to the individual.
In a full-time programme, a person does not just have LSD detox. LSD use is seen as a part of the individual’s greater response to life’s problems, with the thinking that the drug use is not a personal weakness but a normal response to distressing situations or life events.
LSD Rehab Aftercare
The focus on a detailed, easy-to-follow aftercare plan is one of the ways Abbeycare clinics ensures that recovery from LSD addiction endures. With this in mind, much energy is given to constructing an after-care plan. With the help of experts and other co-sufferers, clients will be guided to make a day-to-day guide incorporating:
- Details on how to contact the sponsor
- Details on group schedules/meetings
- Ways to cope with triggers/cravings
- Emotional and social support when testing situations arise
- What if I use other drugs aside from LSD? Can I be admitted to rehab too?
Abbeycare routinely works with individuals struggling with poly-drug (multi-drug) use. After consultation with our management team, it is highly possible that you can be admitted to our rehab programme.
- Is it possible to overdose on LSD?
Physically, it is not likely to overdose on LSD. But taking too much of the drug can cause distressing hallucinations that may trigger irrational behaviour. Much of the harms associated with LSD use are associated with reactions to some disturbing hallucinations (seeing/sensing things that are not factually present).
- How long does LSD detox take?
Three to four days after using LSD, the person can start feeling feel fewer of the withdrawal symptoms discussed. With LSD, the withdrawal symptoms are usually connected with the need to use the drug as a means to lift moods and boost creativity. Taking away the option to use the drug can create anxiety and irritability, which can lead to insomnia or a change in appetite.
- How much does LSD treatment cost?
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The price for treatment is subject to agreement from Abbeycare’s admissions and clinical teams, following the initial conversation.
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