What Is LSD?: Addiction Risk, Withdrawal, And Recovery

what is lsd
Many people have heard of LSD, but it can be hard to separate what’s real and what’s rumor when you’re talking about LSD and other drugs that are as popular and widespread.

The problem with all of the myths about LSD is that they can leave people without the information they need to make informed decisions or cause problems when people use LSD, thinking they understand the risks that come with the drug when they don’t.

Since our job is to help people dealing with addiction and to help people find ways to live happier and healthier lives free from addiction, we want to talk frankly about what LSD is, the addiction risk from using LSD, what withdrawal looks like, and your options to get into recovery if you want to see what life is like without LSD.

Even if you don’t use and don’t want to use LSD, it’s still a good idea to learn more about it because LSD use is common. If you don’t use LSD, you probably know someone who does or who will use LSD in their lives.

What Is LSD?

LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide and is considered one of the most powerful hallucinogenic drugs and one of the most long-lasting drugs.

LSD might also be called paper or candy because of how it’s often taken and because it’s commonly used as a party drug, where people will frequently disguise their drug use using street names and nicknames for the drugs.

Paper is a common name because one way to take LSD is to eat a piece of paper coated with LSD crystals. The papers are often gridded to tell users how much to take, with each grid piece being an approximate amount. Papers are often also decorative and in fun styles and designs, which hints that this is a hallucinogenic drug.

The other nickname, candy, is because liquid LSD, which is sometimes more potent than paper versions of the drug, is difficult to take with any precision, is also light sensitive, and breaks down quickly when exposed to light.

To avoid those problems, people who use liquid LSD may use a dropper bottle to add a small amount of the drug to sugar candies that absorb the liquid and can then be eaten whenever the person wants to take a dose.

Because LSD is such a strong hallucinogen, it takes incredibly small doses to affect the people who use it profoundly. LSD is also a strong upper, which means that people who take LSD often stay up for long hours, and it can be seen as a party aid because it can keep people on their feet, dancing, and having a good time a lot longer than they normally would.

Other nicknames for LSD include:

  • ACID
  • Windowpane
  • Mellow Yellow
  • Blotter
  • Dots

No matter what nickname is used or how small the dose is, the symptoms and side effects of LSD use are the same. The only difference is how long the drugs last and how intense the sensation of the high, or trip, is.

Let’s take a closer look at the common side effects and symptoms of LSD use.

people who take LSD often stay up for long hours

Common Side Effects And Symptoms Of LSD Use

Everyone reacts a little differently to LSD, and it’s common for people to only experience some common symptoms and side effects of LSD use.

Here are some common side effects of LSD use:

  • Altered sense of time
  • Altered sense of self
  • Hallucinations
  • Synesthesia (crossed senses, like seeing colors when you hear a certain sound or tasting something when you see a specific color)
  • Rapid emotional changes
  • Feeling multiple emotions at once
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling energetic
  • Heightened senses, especially sight, hearing, and touch
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Dry mouth
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Increased body temperature (fever)
  • Odd behavior

People who take LSD may feel the effects of the drug longer than many other drugs. A single dose may last 8-12 hours, sometimes longer, and larger doses often last longer.

How Long Is LSD Detectable?

Using normal drug tests, like a urine test, LSD is generally detectable for 2-4 days, up to a week. However, unlike most other drugs, LSD is always detectable in your spinal fluid after you’ve taken the drug. So some drug tests will be able to detect LSD use even years after you’ve stopped taking the drug.

What Is An LSD Flashback

One of the true rumors about LSD is that you can have an LSD flashback for months and years after taking the drug.

Flashbacks are when you get a sudden return of the symptoms of LSD use without having used LSD. In some cases, LSD may be detectable again in your urine after getting a flashback.

We don’t entirely know what causes flashbacks and can’t predict who will get one or when the flashback will occur.

However, once you’ve had one LSD flashback, you are more likely to have another LSD flashback.

You may be at greater risk for LSD flashback if you use other drugs, lose a lot of weight suddenly, or have any major changes or stressors in your life that affect your body.

Suppose you use LSD or have ever used LSD. In that case, it’s important to disclose that to your doctor so that they can treat you accordingly, including potentially changing the medications you use or adjusting the dose of your medications to account for LSD use.

LSD Addiction And The Risks Of LSD Use

Like any drug, it’s possible to become addicted to LSD. In this case, the cause of addiction is more likely to be behavioral and psychological, though, because LSD isn’t a drug that usually causes a physical dependence or withdrawal period.

People might have a bit of a hungover feeling or depression after using LSD, but that’s largely because their body is returning to normal function and has probably been awake and active for much longer than usual.

Most people cannot sleep while LSD is active in their system, which means that people who use LSD may stay up for 24 hours or longer depending on when they take LSD and whether they get some sleep immediately before taking their dose.

However, just because you aren’t likely to develop a physical dependence doesn’t mean you won’t develop an addiction.

And, because of the risk of flashbacks when you’ve taken LSD, it can be difficult for people with an addiction to stay in recovery once they stop. A flashback can be a trigger for you to start taking LSD again.

Can You Overdose On LSD?

Yes, though LSD poisoning, where someone takes enough LSD for the drug to be toxic, is very rare. When people overdose on LSD, they get symptoms like intense depression, paranoia, anxiety or panic attacks, and many other mental health symptoms.

Common side effects of LSD include Depression, Insomnia, Anxiety, etc

How Long Does LSD Last?

LSD is a long-lasting drug; doses can easily last 8-12 hours. Some people may take more than one dose to extend their high length, generally called a trip.

One of the risks of LSD use is that you can become severely dehydrated and sleep-deprived if you keep taking LSD because many people can’t sleep while taking LSD.

Signs Of LSD Addiction

There are a few signs of LSD addiction that you should know about. Remember, because there usually isn’t a physical side of LSD. So you might psychologically want LSD, but most people won’t have a physical craving for the drug.

Here are some of the signs you should watch for:

  • You get distracted thinking about the next time you can take LSD
  • You’ve had an LSD flashback
  • You’ve had an LSD flashback and don’t want to stop using the drug
  • You feel like you need to take LSD to be your best self
  • Your work or school performance is beginning to suffer
  • You’re starting to use LSD more and more often
  • You need to take a larger dose of LSD to get the same effect
  • You have had a bad trip and still want to continue taking LSD
  • You have considered taking LSD more than once a week
  • You want to take LSD even when you’re alone
  • You feel like you need to hide your LSD use
  • You use LSD to deal with negative feelings or to escape your life for a time.

If you feel any of these are accurate for you or a friend or family member, you could likely be dealing with an LSD addiction.

Ready To Overcome LSD Addiction?

There is hope if you’re worried that you or a family member might be dealing with an addiction. Treatment centers and local resources can help you overcome addiction and go on to live normal, happy, healthy lives.

Going to a residential treatment center is often one of the best options because the risk of relapsing is much lower in a treatment center, and there are a lot of resources, including targeted therapies, to help you overcome your addiction.

If you think that a treatment center might be the best option for you, Epiphany Wellness can help. Contact us to learn more about our programs, schedule intake, and get started.

You deserve expert help targeted at your specific needs and professionals who understand your situation and are ready, willing, and able to help you develop the skills you need to overcome addiction and live a happy and healthier life.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Hallucinogens DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published November 2021. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens
  2. LSD. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/lsd
  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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