LSD Addiction: Side Effects, Detox and Withdrawal
D-lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD, is a hallucinogen drug that severely alters the perception, thoughts, and feelings of those who take it. Although there are a variety of hallucinogenic drugs out there, LSD is one of the most powerful, producing “trips” or hallucinations that can last up to 12 hours.
LSD is made from lysergic acid, which is a substance found in a fungus that grows on grains. It’s usually a clear or white, odorless substance, but it’s sometimes also made in liquid form. It is typically sold on the street in small tablets, capsules, or gelatin squares.
To use LSD, most individuals swallow the tablets or capsules, drink the liquid form, or absorb it through the lining of the mouth using drug-soaked paper pieces. Regardless of what form it comes in, LSD interferes with serotonin in the brain, which regulates a number of things throughout the body, including:
- Sensory perception
- Muscle control
- Body temperature
The immediate side effects of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD can range from moderate to severe and long-term use carries many different physical and psychological risks.
The following terms are street names or slang for LSD:
- Yellow Sunshine
- Big D
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4.9 million people (or 1.8 percent of the population) abused hallucinogen drugs such as LSD over the past year. LSD is a widely abused drug, but that doesn’t lessen the danger of it or its unpredictable effects.
Although research shows that some hallucinogenic drugs are addictive, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, LSD is not considered addictive. However, it does produce a tolerance, which drives users to take larger or more frequent doses to achieve the desired effect.
Overcoming LSD addiction is possible.
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Immediate short-term effects of LSD typically begin within 20 to 90 minutes of ingestion and can last up to 12 hours. These effects include:
- Intensified feelings and sensory experiences
- Increased body temperature
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Increased blood pressure
- Rapid mood swings
- Impulsive behavior
- Increased heart rate
Scientists know very little about the long-term effects of LSD abuse, although a few rare ones may include:
Since LSD is not considered an addictive drug, it may be difficult to tell when a person is abusing it and there may not be any physical signs. One major sign of a problem is when a person develops a tolerance to LSD. This typically happens very quickly with repeated use, but a tolerance to LSD can also be very dangerous, as the drug’s effects are highly unpredictable.
Additionally, LSD tolerance is short-lived. If a user stops taking LSD for 48 to 72 hours, he or she will lose any tolerance they previously had. Unlike many other illegal substances, suddenly stopping all LSD use typically does not result in any withdrawal symptoms.
Although LSD is not physically addictive, chronic abusers may develop a strong psychological addiction to the drug. Signs of psychological dependence may include:
- Panic attacks
- Cognitive problems (memory and attention)
- Suicidal thoughts
Medically assisted detox treatment for LSD is not typically necessary, as there are generally no physical withdrawal symptoms.
Although medical detox is not typically necessary for LSD addiction, long-term rehab may help individuals learn how to live a lifestyle that doesn’t involve chronic drug abuse. Depending on the person’s needs, an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab program may be more suitable.
Inpatient drug rehab requires that the client lives in a rehab center for several weeks while they complete their rehab program. During this time, clients work with counselors, clinical therapists, and sober peers to develop the life skills and tools they will need to maintain a sober lifestyle.
An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides more flexibility for individuals who cannot commit to living in a rehab center for weeks. These programs allow them to remain actively engaged in their drug rehab program without compromising other commitments like child care, school, or work. IOP groups meet several times a week at a convenient and clinical location.
Long-term drug rehab of either kind involves group and individual therapy, 12-Step Program work, educational lectures, behavioral therapy, relapse prevention, and other specialized therapies, such as pet therapy, creative arts therapy, and psychodrama, among many others.
The cost for drug rehab programs will vary depending on the location and the type of program (IOP or inpatient). Regardless of cost, there are several different ways clients can pay for treatment, including:
- Medical insurance benefits
- Private loans
- Employee Assistance Programs
- Out-of-pocket payment
Sober living homes provide safe, sober, and structured living environments for men and women in recovery and are a great continued care option for those who have completed a drug rehab program but do not have a sober home environment to return to or who need additional support in their sobriety.
As a resident of a transitional living home, clients must adhere to the rules set forth by the community and submit to regular drug and alcohol tests. Residents must also abide by the strict substance-free policy at all times. This structured lifestyle helps prepare each resident for an independent life of sobriety after rehab.
Sober living homes vary in cost, which often depends on the type of transitional housing, additional recovery services offered, the addition of IOP, and the location of the sober living home. Payment is collected on a monthly basis, similar to rent.
Aftercare programs are another continued care option for individuals who are recovering from a substance use disorder. These programs are designed for alumni who have already completed a drug rehab program and are currently enrolled in a sober living program or have completed one.
Aftercare meetings serve as regular sobriety check-ins and provide clients with an opportunity to discuss current issues they are facing and develop relationships with other recovering addicts.
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