LSD Symptoms & Signs of Abuse

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LSD Symptoms & Signs of Abuse

LSD is short for lysergic acid diethylamide, which is a potent psychedelic drug. Also known as acid, LSD typically affects the user’s perception and emotions and produces intensified thoughts. At high doses, LSD can also lead to mental, visual, and auditory hallucinations. LSD is a synthetic chemical, meaning it’s man-made, usually in clandestine labs. It often contains an assortment of dangerous chemicals designed to produce an intense “acid trip.” Below is more on recognizing LSD symptoms and signs of abuse.  

How Does LSD (Acid) Work? 

LSD is made from a substance found in ergot, which is a fungus that grows on rye (grain). It belongs to a group of drugs called psychedelics. When taken in small doses (microdosing), acid can produce mild changes in sensory perception, mood, and thought. In larger doses, it may produce visual and auditory hallucinations as well as distortions of space and time.  

Exactly how LSD impacts the brain is unknown, but it’s thought to work by increasing glutamate release in the cerebral cortex, producing excitation. Like many other drugs of abuse, LSD has also been shown to activate dopamine-related pathways, which can contribute to euphoric and empathetic effects.  

Research has also found that LSD interacts with proteins on the surface of brain cells called serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that helps brain cells communicate with each other. According to studies, LSD appears to act through a receptor called 5-HT2AR.1 

Not only does LSD work through serotonin pathways, but serotonin receptors also close a “lid” over LSD molecules, preventing the drug from quickly attaching to nerve cells in the brain. This likely explains how long the symptoms of LSD last.1   

Is LSD Addictive? 

LSD abuse is common among teens and young adults and is known by street names like “acid,” “lucy,” or “doses.” It’s still one of the most potent hallucinogens in the underground drug market today. Those who abuse LSD are known to experience extended highs that are commonly referred to as “trips,” making it one of the most popular club drugs 

The danger of LSD abuse is largely associated with its production. LSD is a synthetically made or man-made substance that’s often made in illegal home laboratories and is composed of lysergic acid, along with various other chemicals. It’s manufactured in a crystalline form and later converted into liquid or capsule form.  

The drug is usually taken orally, either by capsule or by adding it to absorbent paper known as “tabs” and letting them dissolve on the tongue. LSD is also usually odorless, colorless, and bitter-tasting. That being said, many wonder whether acid is addictive.  

Although LSD is not addictive in the way that opioids or stimulants are, dependence and tolerance to LSD can occur. Tolerance is when the individual requires higher doses of a drug to feel the same side effects or high. Tolerance is often associated with overdose, as it encourages the individual to use higher and higher doses in one period to the point when it could lead to toxicity.  

LSD Symptoms and Side Effects 

LSD affects serotonin in the brain, which contributes to changes in mood and perception. That’s why many of the physical and psychological side effects are related to the brain’s chemistry. Since serotonin is a primary neurotransmitter, the use of acid changes the chemistry of the central nervous system. The use of this drug can, therefore, produce a variety of physical and mental side effects.  

Some common LSD symptoms and effects include:  

  • Anxiety 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Chills 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Extreme sweating 
  • Impaired coordination 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Raised body temperature 
  • Restlessness 
  • Sedation and drowsiness 
  • The inability to drive or operate machinery 
  • Tingling in the fingers or toes 
  • Weakness 

These acid side effects are in addition to everything from anxiety attacks while using the drug, and even after use, to paranoia and a general lack of motivation and proper cognitive function. Also, if someone experiences what is referred to as a “bad trip,” they may exhibit incoherent or slurred speech and even seizures.  

Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is also a common long-term effect of LSD abuse characterized by flashbacks or recurrences of past acid trips. Flashbacks can occur weeks, months, or even years after use and are often unpleasant. Especially if the individual usually experienced bad trips in the past, HPPD symptoms can be highly disturbing.  

Signs of LSD Abuse and Addiction 

The signs of LSD abuse depend on the stage of abuse the person is in. Common LSD signs and symptoms that users may exhibit during a trip or high include:  

  • Dilated pupils 
  • Disruption in everyday life and functionality 
  • Extreme sweating 
  • Impaired coordination 
  • Increased body temperature 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nausea/vomiting 
  • Restlessness 

These initial physical side effects are often the first signs of acid use. However, since LSD is a hallucinogen, the behavior of an acid addict is often significant and difficult to miss. LSD is an unpredictable drug, which is often reflected in users’ behavior, with common signs of LSD abuse including:  

  • Anxiety or panic attacks 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Elated emotions, such as being highly emotional or overly empathetic 
  • Impacted sense of time and space 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Loss of memory 
  • Paranoia 
  • Poor decision-making abilities 
  • Poor judgment 

Because LSD impacts serotonin, most symptoms and side effects are emotion-based. Additionally, while acid isn’t physically addictive in the same way that heroin or cocaine is, it can lead to psychological dependence. This may be displayed in signs like constantly trying to find LSD or becoming distraught, or experiencing mood swings when the drug is unavailable.  

Treatment for Acid Addiction 

As we previously mentioned, being addicted to acid is mostly psychological, which is why our BHOPB detox center takes a psychological approach to treating it. If you or someone you care about is showing signs of LSD addiction, don’t wait to get help.  


Call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981 to learn more about our addiction treatment in Lake Worth 



 NIH – Protein structure reveals how LSD affects the brain 


Related Reading:  

Why Do People Lace Drugs? 

How Sobriety Changes Your Body 

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