What Are The Dangers Of LSD? Risks, Side-Effects, & Comedown

dangers of lsd
There are many myths about LSD, including some claiming that the drug is completely safe because hallucinogens don’t cause cravings. 

The problem is that those rumors aren’t anything more than rumors and myths. 

There are very real risks and side effects to LSD use, even if those risks aren’t always the same as the risks you get with other drugs. 

Believing that LSD use has no risk can leave you vulnerable to those risks. So we think it’s important to talk frankly about the real risks of LSD and how those risks can affect those taking the drug. 

First, though, we’ll give a short primer on what LSD is and what the drug does because that information is critical if you want to understand the risks that come with using LSD. 

So, let’s dig in. 

What Is LSD

LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide. It’s a hallucinogen, and there have been quite a few experiments with the drug in clinical settings, but there are no approved uses of LSD today, and the drug is illegal. 

Like most hallucinogens, LSD can cause a wide range of effects, and the exact effects of the drug seem to depend on the setting and mood of the user as much as the drug itself, with there being room for both good-feeling and bad-feeling experiences while taking the drug. 

That’s important to note because most people think of drugs as always inducing some feel-good high, and that isn’t necessarily the case. With LSD, the nature of your feelings and hallucinations can be significantly different each time, and there is a considerable risk of a ‘bad trip.’ 

Of course, knowing that LSD is a hallucinogen isn’t the same as knowing what LSD does, so let’s talk about some side effects and symptoms of LSD use in more detail. 

Dangers of LSD

What Does LSD Do? 

LSD can cause a long-lasting high, usually lasting between 6-15 hours, depending on metabolic factors and your dose. However, more LSD doesn’t always mean a longer high; sometimes, it just increases the intensity without increasing duration, making it harder to predict how LSD will work for you or even how the drug will feel each time you use it. 

LSD works by bonding to serotonin receptors. The LSD molecules get sealed to the receptor by amino acids, meaning those receptors keep sending signals until the LSD molecule is knocked free. 

Normally, a serotonin molecule would bond to those same receptors and then be released after the signal and eventually reabsorbed by the synapses where signaling happens. Since that release and reuptake aren’t happening when you use LSD, it causes a wide range of effects, including euphoria, hallucinations, and other side effects. 

Acid can also cause an ‘afterglow’ where you aren’t high or feel the drug’s immediate effects. However, you still feel happiness or generally ‘up’ for several hours after the immediate effects wear off. 

Of course, that afterglow effect isn’t always positive feelings. If you have a bad trip and experience the anxiety, paranoia, or fear that LSD can sometimes cause, those will likely be the same feelings you have if you get an afterglow effect. 

It can take up to 24 hours for your body and brain to get back to normal function after taking LSD. 

Side Effects And Risks Of LSD

There are many potential side effects from LSD use, especially since different people may react differently to the drug, and other people may have very different experiences each time they use LSD. 

We can’t list all of this drug’s side effects and risks because the reactions are so individual, but if you notice any strange side effects or feelings while taking LSD, pay attention to them. Those feelings may be because of the drug or signs of dangerous reactions. 

The effects and side effects of LSD may also be different and more dangerous if you are taking any medications at the same time, haven’t had enough to eat and drink before taking LSD, or have any metabolic disorders that could change the way your body and brain process the drug. 

Remember, some of the side effects of LSD can be very serious, and even mild side effects may get worse as the drug continues working. So if you think you need medical attention, don’t hesitate. It’s better to get help than to risk things worsening and being unable to get help later. 

Hallucinogens may also increase the symptoms of mental health disorders, at least while the drug is working, making your experiences even less predictable if you have a mental health disorder. 

Now that you have that information let’s talk about the specific side effects and potential risks of using LSD. 

Side Effects

  • Altered sense of self
  • Not feeling real
  • Altered sense of time
  • Synesthesia (crossovers between different senses)
  • Intense feelings 
  • Intense sensations
  • Big mood swings
  • Feeling multiple emotions at once
  • Rapidly changing emotions
  • Unpredictable emotions
  • Dilated pupils
  • Flushed skin
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased body temperature
  • Decreased appetite
  • Bizarre behavior or statements


In addition to these common and benign side effects, there can be more dangerous responses to LSD. Including, but not limited to: 

  • Frightening hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis
  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Self-harm
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Inability to recognize what’s real 

There can be many different presentations of these problems and risks, and not everyone will experience them in the same way and at the same point in the high. 

Remember, LSD is a long-lasting drug, which means that anytime you use it, you might go through several different phases while on the drug, and you might run into the more dangerous symptoms at different points while on or after the drug. 

Other risks of LSD can include things like not realizing that you’re putting yourself in danger, not reacting properly to a potential risk, like oncoming traffic, or spending too much time outside on a cold night. 

Another risk we haven’t mentioned in this list is the risk of a flashback. We don’t know entirely why some people can have LSD flashbacks and other people never have one, but we do know that the potential risk of a flashback exists as soon as you’ve had a single dose of LSD and that there aren’t any good ways to predict whether or when you will have one. 

LSD flashbacks involve getting some or all of the side effects of taking LSD without having had to take LSD. That means that you might not be able to control when those effects happen or even notice when you’re starting to be affected by them. 

What is an LSD comedown?

What Is An LSD Comedown? 

Another danger of taking LSD, but one that isn’t as well known as flashbacks or some of the other side effects we’ve already talked about, is LSD comedowns. These are similar to the cocaine crashes you can get if you use cocaine and happen for the same reason. 

Using LSD can essentially overwhelm your serotonin system, even though it doesn’t make your body produce more serotonin than cocaine does. In both cases, your brain can respond to the drug use by producing less serotonin after using the drug, leading to a low, depressed feeling, sadness, and other unpleasant emotions. 

These feelings can last days after LSD use, though they don’t seem to have the risk of becoming a permanent change, unlike the risk with cocaine. 

That said, an LSD comedown can be intense and may contribute to feeling like you need to use LSD again, especially if you’re using LSD primarily to escape or turn around negative feelings. 

Like other drugs, LSD can sometimes be a way to deal with mental health problems and feel better for a while. But, using LSD this way doesn’t let you deal with the underlying causes of those feelings, which may worsen the problem. 

Need Help Overcoming LSD Use? 

If you feel like you’ve lost control of LSD use or want help stopping using LSD and finding new coping mechanisms to deal with your emotions without LSD, you aren’t alone. You don’t have to overcome this on your own, and some experts understand and know what techniques and treatments can help you build the coping skills you need and deserve. 

No matter how long you’ve been using LSD or why you started using LSD. If you’re committed to overcoming LSD use, you can, and we can help. 

Call Epiphany Wellness to learn more about our treatment programs, ask about how we can help, or find the right program for you. 

We can’t wait to get started and help you reclaim your life. 


  1. Hwang KAJ, Saadabadi A. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD). In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 26, 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482407/ on 2023, January 6
  2. Holland K. Healthline. (2022, May 19). How Long Does Acid Last? What to Expect. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-acid-last on 2023, January 6
  3. T B. Verywell Mind. (2022, March 5). What to know about LSD use. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-effects-of-lsd-on-the-brain-67496 on 2023, January 6


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