LSD addiction

LSD is an incredibly powerful hallucinogen which has acquired an almost cult status in the drug world. Its profound effects on perception, consciousness and the senses have seen LSD claimed as a gateway to profound insights, spiritual awakenings and even connections to other realms. While the truth of these claims is subject to debate, what is clear is that LSD use can pose serious dangers to health, relationships and personal well-being. LSD addiction is one of these dangers, and while addiction may differ slightly from traditional notions of substance dependence, its potential to disrupt lives is no less significant. It is vital for individuals experimenting with or regularly using the drug to understand the risks and to seek professional help if they find themselves caught in the grips of addiction.

What is LSD?

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, better known by its acronym LSD, is a powerful psychedelic drug that significantly alters perception, mood and various cognitive processes. LSD was first discovered in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, but its hallucinogenic properties were not recognised until 1943, when Hofmann accidentally absorbed a small amount of the substance. This revealed that even in extremely small doses, LSD induced vivid hallucinations, profound shifts in consciousness and an altered sense of time and space.

LSD is synthesised from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. It is commonly taken orally, through blotter paper that has been soaked in LSD solution, small tablets known as microdots, sugar cubes or gelatin squares, all of which allow for easy ingestion and absorption into the bloodstream.

Historically, LSD was initially explored by psychiatrists as a therapeutic tool in psychotherapy, believed to aid in accessing repressed thoughts and emotions. However, by the 1960s, it became a popular recreational drug in the counterculture movement, with people seeking to expand consciousness and explore spiritual dimensions.

What are the effects of LSD?

The effects of LSD are profound and wide-ranging, affecting the mind, emotions and perception in ways that can be unpredictable. The experience, often referred to as a “trip,” can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, depending on the dose, the user’s physiology and state of mind at the time of ingestion. The effects are typically felt within 20 to 90 minutes after taking the drug and include:

Psychological effects

  • Altered perception: Users may experience dramatically altered perception of time and space, where time seems to slow down or speed up, and spatial relationships become distorted.
  • Visual hallucinations: One of the hallmark effects of LSD is the presence of visual hallucinations. Users may see patterns, shapes, colours and textures in vivid detail, and objects may appear to warp, melt or breathe.
  • Emotional swings: LSD can intensify emotions, with users shifting erratically from extreme joy to profound introspection, anxiety or despair.
  • Altered thought processes: Thought patterns can become non-linear, leading to leaps in logic, creative thinking, or profound philosophical insight. However, these leaps can also be overwhelmingly confusing and disorientating.
  • Ego dissolution: At higher doses, users may experience a loss of self-identity or “ego dissolution”, feeling as if they are merging with their surroundings, other people or the universe itself.

Potential for “bad trips”

Not all experiences with LSD are positive, and users can have “bad trips,” where the drug induces intense fear, anxiety or panic. These experiences can be terrifying, with users feeling as though they’re losing control, going insane, or even facing imminent death. Factors contributing to a bad trip can include:

  • The user’s surroundings
  • Their mental state before taking the drug
  • Unexpected reactions to the drug’s effects

Bad trips can be incredibly dangerous, and there have been numerous cases of accidents, self-harm and suicide as a result of the distress caused.

Following an LSD experience, users may feel tired, drained or depressed, often referred to as an “LSD hangover.” The intense psychological journey can also lead to changes in perspective or life outlook, which can be positive or negative depending on the nature of the experience.

LSD side effects

Various physical and mental LSD side effects can affect a person both during the trip and afterwards. These side effects can range from mild discomfort to more severe health concerns:

  • Physical discomfort: Some users experience physical side effects such as dizziness, weakness, tremors, nausea and blurred vision.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure: LSD can cause significant increases in heart rate and blood pressure, which can be particularly dangerous for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.
  • Temperature fluctuations: Users may have difficulty regulating their body temperature, experiencing episodes of sweating or chills.
  • Sleep disturbances: After the effects of the drug wear off, individuals may find it difficult to fall asleep or experience disturbances in their sleep patterns.
  • Emotional volatility: Users may experience rapid swings in emotion, from euphoria to intense fear, which can be distressing and lead to unpredictable behaviour.

Why is LSD addictive?

Generally speaking, LSD does not cause physical dependence in the way that substances like alcohol, opioids or nicotine do. However, psychological dependence on LSD can develop, particularly when users continually seek the drug’s ability to alter reality, often as a means of escape from personal issues or stress or to re-experience the profound insights or euphoria they associate with previous trips.

This reliance can lead to a pattern of repetitive use, where, like all forms of drug addiction, they begin to prioritise LSD consumption over other aspects of their life. Once addicted, individuals may find it difficult to enjoy life or cope with reality without the altered states of consciousness provided by LSD.

Signs and symptoms of LSD addiction

Identifying LSD addiction can be challenging due to its psychological rather than physical dependency nature. However, several signs and symptoms may indicate a problem, and if you or someone you know exhibits these behaviours, it may be time to seek help:

  • Spending more time and resources on obtaining and using LSD.
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school or home due to LSD use.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences, such as strained relationships or financial problems.
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, with LSD becoming the main source of pleasure or escape.
  • Mood swings or changes in personality, possibly related to the aftereffects of use or the desire to use again.
  • Anxiety or depression when unable to use LSD (a classic sign of LSD addiction and withdrawal).
  • Defensiveness or denial when confronted about LSD use.

Which factors contribute to LSD addiction?

Several factors can increase the likelihood of developing a psychological dependence on LSD, and understanding these can help in identifying and addressing LSD addiction:

Psychological vulnerability

  • Pre-existing mental health conditions: Individuals with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues may use LSD as a form of self-medication, increasing the risk of dependence.
  • Seeking escape: Those looking to escape reality, personal problems or seeking meaning in life may turn to LSD for its mind-altering effects, leading to repetitive use.

Environmental influences

  • Peer pressure: Social circles or environments where drug use is common can encourage experimentation with LSD, potentially leading to addiction.
  • Stressful life events: People experiencing high levels of stress, trauma, or major life changes may use LSD as a coping mechanism.

Personality traits

  • Curiosity and sensation-seeking: Individuals with a strong desire for new experiences and sensations may be drawn to LSD’s unique effects, increasing the chance of continued use.
  • Impulsivity: People with impulsive behaviour traits may be more likely to experiment with LSD and develop patterns of use without considering the long-term consequences.

The consequences of LSD addiction and abuse

The impact of LSD addiction and abuse extends beyond the immediate effects of the drug, affecting various aspects of a person’s life and health:

Health effects

  • Mental health deterioration: Prolonged LSD use can exacerbate or trigger mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and psychosis.
  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD): In some cases, individuals may experience ongoing visual disturbances or flashbacks, known as HPPD, long after taking LSD. This can include seeing halos or trails attached to moving objects or experiencing other visual effects that can interfere with daily functioning and cause enormous distress.

Social and personal consequences

  • Relationship strain: LSD addiction can lead to conflicts with family, friends and significant others, damaging or ending relationships. This can lead to social isolation, loneliness and depression.
  • Educational and career impact: Neglecting responsibilities and decreased cognitive function can result in academic failure or job loss.

Legal and financial issues

  • Legal problems: LSD is a Class A substance in the United Kingdom under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This classification indicates a drug considered to have a high potential for abuse, with severe penalties for possession, supply or production.
  • Financial strain: The cost of obtaining LSD, combined with potential job loss, can lead to financial difficulties and debt.

How LSD addiction is treated

Treatment for LSD addiction primarily focuses on psychological support, as there are no specific medications to counteract LSD dependence. Sanctuary Lodge’s LSD rehab/detox programme involves three main stages to help our clients overcome addiction and rebuild their lives:

1. LSD detox

While LSD does not cause physical dependence, chronic users may still experience psychological withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. At Sanctuary Lodge, detox focuses on providing a safe, supportive environment where individuals can clear their minds and bodies from the effects of LSD and prepare for the therapeutic work ahead.

2. LSD rehab therapy

This stage involves intensive therapy sessions, including individual and group therapy, to address the psychological aspects of LSD addiction. Our therapists use a variety of techniques, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, to help clients understand the root causes of their addiction and develop coping strategies for dealing with cravings and triggers.

3. Relapse prevention planning and aftercare

The final stage focuses on preparing clients for life after rehab, with clients developing tools and strategies for managing potential triggers and preventing relapse. Our aftercare programme involves ongoing group therapy for a year, which is designed to offer continued support and guidance and ensure that clients have the resources they need to maintain their sobriety.

Get help for LSD addiction today

If you or someone you love is struggling with LSD addiction, it is crucial to seek professional help. Sanctuary Lodge offers comprehensive support with our team of experts dedicated to providing the treatment and care necessary to overcome LSD addiction. Don’t let LSD addiction hold you back any longer. Reach out to Sanctuary Lodge today and transform your life.


Is acid LSD?
Yes, “acid” is a common street name for LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), a powerful psychoactive drug known for its profound effects on perception, mood and thought.
Can LSD help with addiction?
Recent research has explored the potential of LSD and other psychedelics in treating various forms of addiction, including alcohol and drug dependence. However, these treatments are still under investigation and should only be considered under professional supervision within clinical trials or approved therapeutic programmes.

(Click here to see works cited)

  • “Is LSD Addictive? Can You Get Addicted to LSD?”, 14 July 2022, Accessed 28 February 2024.
  • UK-Rehab. “Information on Addiction To Hallucinogens – LSD | UK Rehab.” UK-Rehab, Accessed 28 February 2024.
  • Das, Saibal et al. “Lysergic acid diethylamide: a drug of ‘use’?.” Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology vol. 6,3 (2016): 214-28. doi:10.1177/2045125316640440
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