Lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly known as LSD or acid, is a powerful hallucinogen with unpredictable effects that vary from person to person. LSD is synthesized from a fungus that grows on grains. Originally designed to stimulate respiratory function, it was also used in clinical trials to treat schizophrenia and other mental health disorders.
Now, LSD is known for its mind-altering effects and is often attached to the counterculture of the 60s. Though not as popular as it was then, LSD is still widely available today and recreationally used by teens and young adults. LSD also goes by street names such as yellow sunshine, boomers, Superman, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, microdots, loony tunes, and zen.
LSD is a strong hallucinogen – when ingested, it gives users a euphoric altering of perceptions. The drug can cause visual hallucinations, amplified senses, and distortion of time. When someone is “tripping,” which is often how the experience of being under the influence of LSD is described, the effects typically last from six to 10 hours.
Due to LSD’s unpredictability and variance from person to person, one of the immediate risks is having a “bad trip”, which can happen on a first attempt or to someone who uses it frequently. This occurs when its strong effects trigger intense emotional reactions, potentially causing severe anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, aggressive behavior, and even suicidal thoughts.
This type of experience can be traumatic and have a lasting impact on mental health. Visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia, and long-term mood disturbances have all been linked to LSD abuse.
Although it does not neurologically create an addiction, users develop a tolerance to LSD quickly. As this tolerance increases, so must the amount of LSD being ingested in order to obtain the desired effects. This increase puts the user at a significantly higher risk of experiencing a “bad trip” and developing persistent psychosis.
The most common way to ingest acid is by using “blotter paper” – liquid LSD is dropped onto small, square pieces of paper for distribution and sale, then placed on the tongue of the user. This substance is commonly used at parties, raves, and music concerts. Males are at a disproportionately higher risk for LSD use. In a recent National Institute of Drug Abuse survey, of 5000 emergency room visits linked to LSD, 84 percent were male and 70 percent were between the ages of 18-24.
The neurochemical effect that LSD has on the brain doesn’t tend to cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms. However, what you might notice is someone acting spacy or detached from reality. If your child has had a traumatic experience while taking LSD, you may see a dramatic shift in their behavior. They may be acting more cautiously, frightened, or mentioning sights or sounds that others aren’t experiencing.
If you or your teen or young adult experiences adverse effects of LSD abuse, the first step is to stop using. Professional psychological treatment, either inpatient or outpatient, has been shown to help alleviate the long-term effects of LSD abuse.
If you think your child is abusing LSD and you’re unsure of what to do, reach out to an addiction professional for advice and support as soon as possible. Sandstone Care is available to answer your questions every day – give us a call at 888-850-1890.