He had so much promise, said his mother, who cannot imagine why her 16-year-old son, Grant, put a stamp-soaked with LSD on his tongue at a “texting party.” What she does know is that Grant’s decision went horribly wrong. Instead of sharing texts with other teens about his LSD experience, Grant had seizures, his heart stopped pumping, and he died.
Lysergic acid diethylamide – otherwise known as LSD – is an unpredictable drug that produces an array of hallucinogenic effects. An experience with LSD can turn devastating in a matter of seconds.
This type of intoxication is often referred to as a “bad trip,” and not much unlike the unexpected downer that befell a 15-year-old California high school student who jumped to his death from a third-floor hotel balcony after experimenting with LSD.
Although psychedelic advocates admit that overindulging in LSD is usually due to a rookie’s poor judgment, the potency among different batches of the drug can vary so widely that even the most polished substance abuser might eventually run into trouble.
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Produced in clandestine laboratories across the United States, LSD is a potent hallucinogen that boasts high potential for abuse. Called on the streets by the names Acid, Blotter, Dots, Mellow Yellow and Window Pane, LSD comes in tablets, capsules, and occasionally in liquid forms. The colorless substance has a slightly bitter taste and is often added to absorbent paper and divided into small decorative squares with each constituting a dose.
Taken orally, LSD is odorless, but it often produces visual and mood-altering experiences within the first hour of ingestion.
From then on, a user can expect to hallucinate and have impaired and distorted perceptions of time, depth, shapes and sizes, movements, colors, sound, and touch.
This departure from reality hinders an individual’s ability to make sound judgments and sense common threats, which, in turn, raises the risk of personal injury and to that of others.
Tripping on acid can be frightening, often contributing to severe anxiety and depression and, days and months after the last dose, even flashbacks.
Symptoms of LSD overdose are similar but are distinguished by more intense episodes, psychosis, and even death. While lethal overdoses are unlikely, the delayed onset of effects can encourage individuals to take more LSD and create further dangers to themselves.
Frequent or long-term abuse of LSD will increase an individual’s tolerance level for the drug. But because the hallucinogen produces such extreme outcomes, an individual is less likely to abuse LSD.
For this reason, even individuals who use LSD for any extended length of time will probably not develop physical withdrawal symptoms beyond a few days of cravings following the last dosage. However, that does not discount the probability of psychological dependence.
LSD acts quickly. Following ingestion, the drug advances to the brain and throughout the body, disrupting both the central and autonomic nervous systems along the way. Although the effects of LSD may go on for hours, all traces of the drug disappear from the brain within 20 minutes after intake.
A reaction to LSD is extremely subjective, variable, and difficult to predict. For example, one experience may be filled with brilliant hallucinogenic sights and sensations, mind expansion, and connectedness to the universe, while another may produce anxiety, panic, fear, depression, despair, and the solitude of disappointment.
The nature of LSD’s side effects, euphoric feelings as opposed to frightening encounters, will likely determine an individual’s willingness to stop habitual use of the drug.
Because LSD does not provoke uncontrollable cravings, most medical professionals do not consider LSD to be an addictive drug. However, repeated users will require higher dosages to achieve highs that are equivalent to earlier experiences with the drug. Given the unpredictability of LSD, this in and of itself is a dangerous practice.
About 5 percent of the people who’ve taken a psychedelic drug like LSD have, at some point, experienced flashbacks.
This disturbed perception, or distorted sensory experience may involve seeing trails or moving spots of light a day or two after use. Once these episodes pass, they often don’t happen again.
Another type of flashback is rare, affecting one in 50,0000 people who take LSD. This highly disturbing phenomenon is defined by constant, uncontrollable and potentially disturbing visuals.
Some individuals who regularly abuse the drug have complained of flashbacks years after they have stopped using LSD.
Like any other drug, coping with these alarming sights and overcoming a mental dependence on LSD may require professional treatment.
An individual enduring a bad LSD experience may encounter panic attacks, which can be treated with fast-acting benzodiazepines including diazepam and triazolam to alleviate discomfort. A medical professional may also choose to administer an antipsychotic tranquilizer, such as Thorazine. However, neither approach will terminate an LSD experience.
An LSD experience is a detachment from reality – it isn’t real. But the truth is that eliminating reliance on LSD, or any other drug, is a challenge that should not be taken on alone. If you find yourself having trouble from a bad trip and are looking for a safe and peaceful place to regain control of your senses, a detoxification program at a residential treatment facility can be your first step toward clearing your mind and getting sober.
Here, medical professionals, when appropriate, can administer medication to alleviate discomfort, monitor your progress and provide the emotional support to get you through the early stages of detox or until you are no longer a threat to yourself or anyone else. Detox is a highly recommended first step on a path toward recovery.
Detox is only one part of treating a mental dependency on LSD or any other hallucinogen. Following successful detox from LSD, any real chance at sustained sobriety and a life without psychedelics will require determination, commitment, and an extended stay at a residential treatment center.
Here, you will be fitted with a personalized recovery plan customized to address your issues and unique circumstances. To strengthen your resistance to relapse and to start feeling good about yourself, you will also be exposed to additional forms of treatment including group therapy, one-on-one counseling, educational lectures, and workshops as part of your recovery program.
If your last trip is not worth visiting again, the time has come to face reality: a mental addiction to LSD continues to put your life in jeopardy. The good news is that help is available. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to LSD and recognize the need to remove hallucinogens entirely from your life, you are in the right place.
Beginning with detox and on through our post-treatment alumni program, the highly trained medical professionals and substance abuse counselors at California Highlands Addiction Treatment are ready to help you gradually eliminate your dependency on psychedelics. Call (855) 907-0156 now to speak with one of our addiction specialists for more information.
U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. from https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/files/LSD_R.pdf
U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4910402/
National Drug Intelligence Center. from https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs4/4260/index.htm