Envision a kaleidoscope of colours, shifting shapes, and altered perceptions, all under the control of a powerful hallucinogen: LSD. As enchanting as it may seem, this psychedelic world holds hidden dangers and the potential for addiction.
LSD addiction is less common than addictions to other drugs, but it can have serious consequences, particularly for mental health. Overcoming LSD addiction can be very difficult due to the powerful grip it can exert over you. Still, with the right approach to recovery, it is possible to break free.
What is LSD?
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) is a powerful psychedelic hallucinogen, also commonly referred to as “acid”, that changes users’ perception of reality, sense of time, space and mood.
LSD is active at small doses (around 20 micrograms) compared to other drugs, showing its extreme potency. The substance is consumed orally via a tablet, liquid droplets or paper, allowing the drug to enter the bloodstream via absorption. LSD is one of the most commonly abused hallucinogens and has several street names, including:
- Blotter acid
- Battery acid
- Mellow yellow
There are a number of researchers exploring LSD’s use for treating a range of mental disorders, including depression, anxiety and PTSD, but despite these potential uses, recreationally taking LSD can have serious psychological and physical consequences.
What is LSD addiction?
Addiction – or substance use disorder – is a mental health disorder characterised by compulsive drug taking despite its negative impact on a person’s health, relationships and career. Addiction is extremely powerful and can take over every aspect of a person’s life.
Changes to the brain’s decision-making, reward and memory centre drive LSD addiction. Large rushes of neurotransmitters are released when LSD is abused and cause intense positive emotions. Human brains remember this euphoric feeling and cause people to seek this feeling out again and again.
While you are highly unlikely to become physically dependent on LSD, you can develop a psychological dependence. When you are addicted to LSD, you will experience cravings when a regular dose is not taken and may also experience cravings for the emotions and sensations that are felt during a trip.
People who abuse LSD are usually polydrug users, meaning they ingest multiple drugs at once. This means that acid users commonly develop a physical dependence on another substance while also developing an LSD addiction.
How do I know if I have an LSD addiction?
LSD addiction is a progressive condition, meaning it usually gets worse over time. Recognising the symptoms of an LSD addiction in yourself or your loved one and treating the disorder as early as possible is vital and can even save lives.
It can be challenging to know if you or your loved one has an LSD addiction, as it can manifest differently from person to person.
However, there are some general signs of an LSD addiction to look out for, including:
- Not being able to uphold responsibilities in relationships, at school or at work
- Changes in physical appearance
- Altered behaviour, e.g. mood swings, aggression, depression
- Increased desire for privacy
- Defensiveness when asked about substance use
- Decreased amount of energy
- Spending or asking for more money than usual
- Financial issues
- Lack of interest in things that used to bring joy
- Changes in appetite and, consequently, weight
Why do people take LSD?
There are a variety of reasons people take LSD.
- Recreational use: People use it for recreational purposes, taking advantage of the mind-altering effects of LSD. People often seek the intense experience of LSD, as it can produce profound sensory distortions and hallucinations.
Self-medication: People tend to turn to LSD as it offers temporary relief from their underlying mental health condition.
Escapism: Stressful situations and the intense emotions that come with them can become extremely overwhelming, and in the absence of healthy coping mechanisms, some individuals turn to substances such as LSD to seek relief.
Creative inspiration: The drug’s ability to alter perception and enhance the flow of thoughts and ideas appeal to individuals seeking artistic or creative inspiration.
No matter what the initial reason is, taking LSD can soon turn into a regular habit and eventually lead to LSD addiction.
What are the effects of LSD?
Taking LSD can completely change a user’s visual and auditory perception of reality and deeply influence their thought processes. This results in a range of intense physical and mental side effects, such as:
- Euphoric effects
- Visual and sensory distortions or hallucinations
- Sensory enhancement
- Impaired depth perception
- Intense emotions
- Impulsive decision making
- Dry mouth
- Increased energy
- Loss of appetite
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Synesthesia: “hearing” colours and “seeing” sounds
As LSD is illegal and primarily obtained through street dealers, the dosage a user consumes is difficult to predict accurately. Each tablet, liquid vile or sheet may range in concentration or distribution, making its effects unpredictable.
What are the dangers of LSD?
Tolerance to LSD develops relatively quickly, with users needing to up their drug dosage after just a few uses to maintain the same intensity of their trip. Increasing your dosage over time can be dangerous as it hugely increases your chance of a “bad trip,” where you experience negative side effects.
Regular use increases the risk of physical, psychological, social, professional and legal consequences. This risk is further increased for those with a family history of psychiatric disorders, particularly psychosis.
Some of these side effects can include:
- Risky behaviour
- Low inhibitions
- Intense delusions
- Panic attacks
- Terrifying thoughts
- Aggressive behaviour
- Psychotic episodes
- Increased risk of developing a mental illness, e.g. depression
- Injury from dangerous activity, e.g. believing one can climb to dangerous heights without falling or running into traffic without getting hit
- Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD): a disorder that causes distressing “flashbacks” to the acid trip. Symptoms can include blurring of small patterns, halo effects, images within images, flashes of colours, seeing geometric patterns
It is essentially impossible to have a fatal overdose on LSD itself, with a considerable amount of the drug needing to be consumed to kill you. However, When LSD is mixed with other substances – particularly antidepressants or amphetamines – it can result in life-threatening side effects, such as hyperthermia, suicidal thoughts and psychosis.
Is there help available for LSD addiction?
The first stage of overcoming an LSD addiction is an LSD detox, where medical professionals provide around-the-clock assistance to help you successfully and safely come off the drug. Once this initial period has been overcome, you will begin LSD rehab to help you better understand your LSD addiction, including triggers and coping mechanisms to refrain from future drug taking.
LSD addiction help at Oasis Recovery
The fundamental philosophy of Oasis Recovery is to help you understand the roots of LSD addiction, whether that be a way to cope with stress, relieve guilt or deal with intense emotional pain.
This enables us to guide you through the stages of LSD addiction recovery to help you rebuild your life and create a brighter future. For more information about our LSD addiction programmes, contact Oasis Bradford today.