LSD Tolerance: How Long It Takes To Develop & What To Do If An Addiction Sets In

LSD Tolerance
One of the things that can make managing drug use and avoiding using drugs especially complicated is that your body will generally build up a tolerance to any drugs you try. 

Tolerance can be tricky when it comes to medications prescribed by your doctor sometimes too, which is why it’s relatively common to increase your dose of certain medications the longer you take them. 

But, when it comes to recreational drugs like LSD or any drug or medication you take without doctor supervision, tolerance gets a lot more complicated and dangerous. 

Taking too much medication, even if you need to take that much to get the intended effect, can have a lot of negative consequences and be detrimental to your health. The same is true for recreational drugs. Only there isn’t a benefit to taking them in the first place. 

So, do you develop a tolerance to LSD? If you do, what does that mean for the people who use the drug? Can the tolerance be managed, and is it dangerous? 

Let’s take a closer look at this common recreational drug to learn more. 

Do You Develop A Tolerance To LSD With Use? 

LSD is a little different from most recreational drugs for several reasons. The first is that LSD is a hallucinogen, and hallucinogens don’t generally create a dependence in the people that use them. 

All that means is that your body won’t typically start to depend on or crave the drug, though you can still be psychologically dependent in some cases. 

That lack of dependence is important when developing a tolerance to specific drugs or medications because tolerance, once developed, typically goes down the longer you go between taking the drug. 

So if you were to drink every day, for example, your body would start to develop a tolerance to alcohol, and you wouldn’t get as much of an effect from a single drink as when you first started drinking. 

But, if you were to stop drinking for a few months and then have a drink again, your tolerance would have gone down, and you’d have more of an effect from that single drink again. 

LSD does also have a tolerance, or rather, your body develops a tolerance to LSD after as little as a single dose. However, LSD tolerance is slightly different from other drug tolerance. 

For one thing, LSD tolerance does generalize to other kinds of similar drugs to some extent. LSD will be the most impacted by having a tolerance, but it won’t be the only drug you’re tolerant to. 

More importantly, LSD tolerance is rapid in onset and rapidly decreases. Specifically, LSD tolerance gets stronger roughly 24 hours after you take the drug and continues getting stronger for 4 days after using LSD. But, if you don’t take LSD for 5 days, your tolerance to the drug mostly resets. 

Some people who have used LSD repeatedly for a long time report that their tolerance doesn’t entirely go away between uses. The more often you’ve used LSD, the more you will need to take to get the same effects. However, this kind of long-term tolerance is generally slower to develop than tolerance to other drugs. It isn’t as well understood because of the difficulty of studying LSD in general and long-term LSD tolerance in particular. 

Not being able to sleep

How Does LSD Tolerance Change How You React To LSD 

LSD tolerance can significantly impact reaction to LSD in the short term and have a slightly more minimal impact on LSD use over the long term. 

In study settings, once an LSD tolerance was established, it was virtually impossible to overcome that tolerance. That means if you were to take LSD several days in a row, you would get progressively less and less response from the drug and might not notice any changes, and your tolerance would continue increasing. 

That kind of tolerance also changes how the people who use LSD are likely to use it. Since LSD tolerance starts almost immediately after the drug wears off, and there can be serious health effects from staying on the drug too long, including not being able to get sleep or not being able to sleep deeply, people generally don’t take LSD more than every once in a while. 

Taking LSD less frequently than other drugs isn’t necessarily unique. Most hallucinogenic drugs of abuse are used this way, and some other drugs, like cocaine, are considered binge drugs rather than chronic use drugs. 

The longer time between uses also means that people dealing with problems related to their use of LSD or other drugs show different signs of their substance use disorder and may not have the classic symptoms of addiction that we associate with alcoholism, opioid use, or other chronic forms of drug use. 

Does LSD Tolerance Go Down Over Time? 

The main LSD tolerance, which makes it so that you won’t get much effect if you take LSD too close together, generally goes away after about 5 days, making it a quickly diminishing tolerance. 

The longer-term tolerance reported by users isn’t as well understood. Additionally, it might not go away, or might not go away as rapidly, as other kinds of drug tolerance. 

That said, longer-term LSD tolerance is usually pretty mild, and users report only having to very gradually and very minimally increase their doses to get the same or similar impact as they had previously. 

That said, someone who stopped taking LSD for a long time should probably still reduce their dose if they start taking the drug again to reduce their overall risk. 

Can You Predict Your LSD Tolerance? 

One of the dangers of drug tolerance is that it can be easy to take more of the drug than is safe or to overestimate your tolerance and overdose on the drug. 

This is one of the primary problems with the opioid crisis and fentanyl because users have such a slim margin of error before reaching the level of an overdose but may also get diminishing returns on the dose of opioid they normally use, leading to people increasing their doses over time, increasing their risk of an overdose. 

LSD is a little different for a few reasons. For one thing, LSD is typically used on its own, and tolerance functions a little differently in LSD than in other drugs. 

That said, aside from being able to predict that you will have a tolerance to LSD for at least 4 days after taking the drug and that that tolerance will go away, usually around 5 days after taking LSD, it’s harder to gauge your tolerance or to predict your tolerance ahead of time. 

The only good news regarding LSD tolerance is that LSD overdoses are rare, and it would take a massive amount of the drug to cause one, far more than people typically take for recreational use. 

Side Effects And Symptoms Of LSD Use

It’s important to talk about the side effects and symptoms of LSD use any time we discuss LSD, in part because this drug is sometimes used to dose people without their knowledge. The better you understand the signs and symptoms of LSD, the easier it will be for you to recognize that that has happened. 

Here are some of the common side effects and symptoms of LSD use: 

  • Euphoria
  • Altered senses
  • Altered sense of self
  • Altered sense of time
  • Altered sense of space
  • Intense feelings
  • Feelings and emotions that change rapidly
  • Different emotions than you would normally expect with certain stimuli
  • Crossover between sensations (tasting color, smelling sounds, etc.) 
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Unusual behavior

There are also plenty of other potential symptoms of LSD use since this drug affects everyone differently, but this is a good synopsis of the possible signs and symptoms. 

Addicted to LSD

Can You Get Addicted To LSD? 

LSD doesn’t create a dependence, which means that the mechanisms that cause a more traditional kind of addiction aren’t present here. Instead, people are more likely to feel like they need to take LSD to manage other things in their life, escape reality, or experience euphoria to reduce stress. 

Unfortunately, one of the problems with using LSD this way is that negative reactions can be very distressing and cause ongoing distress in the people who have them. 

What To Do If You Are Struggling To Stop Using LSD

If you are trying to stop using LSD but are having a hard time or keep slipping just when you think you might have kicked the habit, it might be time to consider going to a residential treatment center. 

Residential treatment centers can help you get to the root of the problem and are a safe and controlled environment to recover in that can help you figure out the next steps and coping mechanisms that work for you. 

If you’re serious about stopping LSD, contact Epiphany Wellness. We can help. 

 

Sources:

  1. Buchborn T, Grecksch G, Dieterich DC, Höllt V. Chapter 79 – Tolerance to Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: Overview, Correlates, and Clinical Implications. In: Preedy VR, ed. Neuropathology of Drug Addictions and Substance Misuse. Academic Press; 2016:846-858. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-800212-4.00079-0
  2. Kay DC, Martin WR. LSD and tryptamine effects on sleep/wakefulness and electrocorticogram patterns in intact cats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1978;58(3):223-228. doi:10.1007/BF00427383
  3. T B. LSD: Everything You’ve Been Afraid to Ask. Verywell Mind. Published March 5, 2022. Accessed January 6, 2023. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-effects-of-lsd-on-the-brain-67496

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