What Are The Side Effects And Risks Of Using LSD?

Side Effects And Risks Of Using LSD
LSD is one of those drugs that people often hear about but don’t often understand very well. People are often familiar with the testing of LSD and some human trials to see if it would be a useful drug for psychotherapy while it was still legal in the 60s, but that history has been largely mythologized. 

People need to understand the real side effects and risks of LSD, not least to counteract the idea that the drug was too much fun, which was why it was made illegal. 

While there is still some interest in using very small doses of LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs for therapies and other treatments, there are a lot of very real risks and problems with using LSD and other hallucinogens. 

The better people understand the risks, the easier it will be to make informed choices about the use and the easier it will be to identify addiction and other serious problems associated with LSD use, especially chronic use. 

While we’re going to talk about the side effects of LSD and answer some common questions about LSD, we’re also going to assume that you already know at least a little about this drug so that we can concentrate on just the side effects and risks. So, while we will provide a short explanation of what LSD is, if you’re looking for more general information about this drug, you might want to look at one of our other articles. 

What Is LSD?

LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide and is a long-lasting and powerful hallucinogen known for producing an altered sense of self, heightened senses, synesthesia, euphoria, and sometimes paranoia and anxiety in users. 

The psychoactive effects of LSD were discovered by Dr. Albert Hofmann, who accidentally absorbed some of the drugs through his skin while working with it in a lab in 1943. 

Since then, the drug has been studied for psychological use and was legal for a time. However, it wasn’t shown to be consistently effective for therapy or psychological use. It was made illegal due to growing and widespread misuse of the drug during and after its potential medical use was disproven. 

Today, LSD is still a relatively common party drug and is widely available on the black market, but it is not legal. A few states are considering decriminalizing or legalizing, largely to make the drug available for more testing and for limited psychological use after it was found to be more potentially effective in very small doses. 

However, the drug is currently federally illegal and is still mostly used recreationally without any therapeutic intent. 

Unfortunately, like many illegal drugs that are still used recreationally, there are a lot of side effects and risks that come with using LSD. 

Before you consider taking LSD, it’s important to understand the side effects of the drug

Common Side Effects And Risks Of Using LSD

Before you consider taking LSD, it’s important to understand the side effects of the drug, the risks, and the potential to become addicted to it. 

Even if you aren’t considering taking LSD, it’s still a good idea to have some information about it, including the side effects of LSD, because knowledge can help you identify when other people are using it and can help you keep them safe and intervene if necessary. 

Let’s dig in. 

LSD Side Effects

For the purposes of this article, everything LSD potentially does will be considered a side effect, including the drug’s intended effects. 

Because LSD is not legal and isn’t considered a therapeutic medication, we aren’t going to highlight which effects are the reason people often take LSD, compared with the side effects that are incidental or potentially dangerous. 

Common side effects of LSD include: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Intense emotions
  • Synesthesia
  • Bizarre behavior or comments
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Intense energy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fevers
  • Flushed skin
  • Hot flashes
  • Altered sense of self
  • Altered sense of time
  • Tremors
  • Seizures 
  • Feeling multiple intense emotions at once

Not everyone will get all of these side effects or experience all of these side effects the same way. The more LSD you take, the more intense the side effects are likely to become, and the more side effects you’re likely to have. 

Seizures, which can be a common side effect of the drug, especially at high doses or when combined with other drugs or medications, always need medical attention, even if the seizure passes quickly and without seeming to cause problems. It’s important to get checked out to make sure there isn’t an underlying issue or complications after the seizure that you need to know about. 

Some of these side effects may be serious and need medical intervention, even if they start mild. For instance, reduced appetite and nausea may make you more likely to get dehydrated, which can be dangerous because LSD often raises your body temperature. 

Risks Of Using LSD

There are a lot of risks to using LSD. Let’s break them down into a few categories: 

  1. Physical risks/side effects
  2. Behavior risks
  3. Social and Ongoing risks

There are a few reasons we broke it up this way. For one thing, physical risks aren’t the only risks of drug use, and too often, we mostly think about them instead of considering the whole picture. For another, the behavioral and ongoing risks of LSD use are often more impactful and problematic than the immediate physical risks, and they can be much harder to manage. 

You deserve to be informed about all three before you decide to use LSD, so that’s what we’re going to do. 

Physical Risks And Side Effects Of LSD

The most pressing risk for most people with LSD is that the drug has a small chance of causing seizures. Depending on the kind of seizure you have, the intensity, and how long it lasts, you might not even realize you have one, or your friends and anyone with you might immediately see what’s happening and take you to a hospital. 

One of the problems is that with any seizure, even mild ones, there is a chance for ongoing consequences and side effects. It’s important to get medical care after any seizure, especially if you don’t have a history of them and don’t know how to monitor yourself for side effects. 

Another common physical risk is dehydration, which we’ve already discussed before, so we won’t go into it again. 

Insomnia can also be a big problem for people who use LSD. It’s common not to be able to sleep at all while LSD is active, and many people who use it end up not getting enough sleep in general and living with the effects of sleep deprivation even when they aren’t recovering from taking the drug. 

That can have a range of effects, but it also means that you’re more likely to have a negative mood and lower performance than you would if you were well-rested. 

The last physical side effect we want to mention, which we’ll discuss more in the ongoing section, is flashbacks. LSD is a drug that is always detectable after use in your spinal cord and spinal fluids. It’s also a drug that can cause flashbacks, where you feel like you’re high on LSD even though you haven’t taken it, even years after you stop using. 

We don’t know why this happens or how to predict it, but there is a small chance of getting flashbacks for anyone who has used LSD. 

Behavior Risks

People who are taking LSD don’t think or behave the way they normally would, and the drug can cause seriously altered behavior in some people. 

Generally, while taking LSD, you aren’t a good judge of risk and are more likely to do things you wouldn’t normally do, like engage in unsafe sex, drive under the influence, or wander around the woods without a light, map, or compass. 

Controlling your situation and having someone sober to keep an eye on things can minimize risks, but nothing can make taking LSD safe from a behavioral perspective. 

It can also be hard to explain why you were acting the way you were after the LSD wears off, which can be a serious problem if you accidentally contact your boss or a friend who doesn’t know about your drug use. 

Social And Ongoing Risks Of LSD

One of the biggest risks of using LSD is that it can isolate you, and the ongoing risk of flashbacks or having LSD appear on certain drug tests doesn’t go away. 

If you get caught using LSD, you’re also likely to end up with criminal charges that can make it harder to get a job or pass background checks. 

Lastly, the risk of flashbacks is indiscriminate, which means that you could get a flashback while driving on the highway or in the middle of an important business meeting or presentation. Since flashbacks are unpredictable, it’s hard to be prepared for them, hard to recognize what’s happening, and it can be hard to get somewhere safe to wait for the symptoms to fade. 

LSD can cause seriously altered behavior in some people

Ready To Stop Using LSD?: Here’s How

If you’re already using LSD and are ready to stop, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone and that many resources can help you. 

Your primary care doctor is a good first stop. Talk to them about your use and tell them you want to stop and are looking for resources. They may be able to make recommendations or may refer you to another provider that knows more.  

It’s also a good idea to talk with friends and family about what’s going on, ask for their support, and find out if it’s okay to call when you need help or to ask for other kinds of assistance, like help getting through flashbacks, or staying safe if you slip and take LSD again. 

It’s also a good idea to consider attending a treatment center and enrolling in a drug rehab program. These programs aren’t just about detoxing. They can also help you identify triggers for using LSD, why you decided to use it in the first place, and what you can do to make it, so you don’t need LSD to live a happy life. 

If you’re considering working with a treatment center to stop using LSD, contact Epiphany Wellness. We can help you find the right program fit for your needs and are more than happy to answer questions or go over the treatments we offer to ensure we’re the right fit for you. 

Addiction is tough, but it doesn’t have to be forever. You can overcome addiction and live life the way you want to. 

Sources: 

  1. Hartney E. Do You Know the History of Acid or LSD? Verywell Mind. Published September 17, 2020. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-acid-22089
  2. Substance use – LSD: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000795.htm
  3. T B. What to Know About LSD Use. Verywell Mind. Published March 5, 2022. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-effects-of-lsd-on-the-brain-67496

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