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Substance use - LSD

Substance abuse - LSD; Drug abuse - LSD; Drug use - LSD; Lysergic acid diethylamide; Hallucinogen - LSD

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Description

LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide. It is an illegal street drug that comes as a white powder or clear colorless liquid. It is available in powder, liquid, tablet, or capsule form. LSD is usually taken by mouth. Some people inhale it through the nose (snort) or inject it into a vein (shooting up).

Street names for LSD include acid, blotter, blotter acid, blue cheer, electric Kool-Aid, hits, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, mellow yellow, microdots, purple haze, sugar cubes, sunshine tabs, and window pane.

LSD's Effects on Your Brain

LSD is a mind-altering drug. This means it acts on your brain (central nervous system) and changes your mood, behavior, and the way you relate to the world around you. LSD affects the action of a brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin helps control behavior, mood, the senses, and thinking.

LSD is in a class of drugs called hallucinogens. These are substances that cause hallucinations. These are things that you see, hear, or feel while awake that appear to be real, but instead of being real, they have been created by the mind. LSD is a very strong hallucinogen. Only a tiny amount is needed to cause hallucinations.

LSD users call their hallucinogenic experiences "trips." Depending on how much you take and how your brain responds, a trip may be "good" or "bad."

A good trip may be stimulating and pleasurable. A bad trip can be very unpleasant and frightening.

The danger of LSD is that its effects are unpredictable. This means when you use it, you do not know if you will have a good trip or a bad trip. There is no way to know how it will affect you:

How fast you feel the effects of LSD depends on how you use it:

Harmful Effects of LSD

LSD can harm the body in different ways and lead to health problems such as:

Some LSD users have flashbacks. This is when parts of the drug experience, or trip, return, even without using the drug again. Flashbacks occur during times of increased stress. Flashbacks tend to occur less often and less intensely after stopping use of LSD. Some users who have frequent flashbacks have a hard time living their daily life.

Tolerance to LSD

LSD is not addictive and does not cause compulsive use. But LSD can quickly lead to tolerance even after using it for just a few days. Tolerance means you need more and more LSD to get the same high.

Treatment Options

Treatment begins with recognizing there is a problem. Once you decide you want to do something about your LSD use, the next step is getting help and support.

Treatment programs use behavior change techniques through counseling (talk therapy). The goal is to help you understand your behaviors and why you use LSD. Involving family and friends during counseling can help support you and keep you from going back to using (relapsing).

Because LSD use may cause mental problems, medicines may be also prescribed to help treat symptoms of anxiety, depression, or psychosis.

Your Ongoing Recovery

As you recover, focus on the following to help prevent relapse:

Resources

Resources that may help you on your road to recovery include:

Your workplace employee assistance program (EAP) is also a good resource.

When to Call the Doctor

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you or someone you know is using LSD and needs help stopping.

References

Kowalchuk A, Reed BC. Substance use disorders. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 50.

National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Hallucinogens and dissociative drugs research report: How do hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, peyote, DMT, and ayahuasca) affect the brain and body? nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/how-do-hallucinogens-lsd-psilocybin-peyote-dmt-ayahuasca-affect-brain-body. February 2015. Accessed November 2, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse website. What are hallucinogens? www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens. Updated November 2021. Accessed November 2, 2022.

Weiss RD. Drugs of abuse. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 31.

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Review Date: 4/30/2022  

Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 11/04/2022.

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