Updated on March 25, 2024
6 min read

LSD – Effects, Addictiveness & Treatment

Key Takeaways

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a powerful hallucinogenic drug. It can profoundly change how you see, hear, feel, and think.

The effects of LSD can be intense and unpredictable, ranging from feelings of joy to overwhelming fear. While LSD doesn’t typically cause physical addiction, it can cause anxiety, flashbacks, or lasting mental health challenges.

Despite these risks, researchers are exploring the potential of LSD to help people with mental conditions like anxiety and depression. However, LSD therapy remains strictly controlled. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the effects, risks, and potential misuse of LSD, as well as explain treatment options for those who may be struggling with misuse and addiction.

Is LSD Addictive?

LSD can be a confusing drug when it comes to addiction. Unlike heroin or cocaine, it doesn’t cause physical dependence, so you won’t crave it the way you might crave other drugs. However, the psychological effects of LSD can be habit-forming.

You can become attached to the intense experiences it creates, like the vivid visuals and altered sense of reality. This can result in “behavioral addiction,” where you keep using LSD even if it’s causing problems in your life.

Using LSD for a long time can also lead to tolerance. The more you use it, the less intense the effects become. As a result, you might take larger and larger doses, which can be dangerous and increase the chance of a “bad trip.”


Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

What Are the Signs of LSD Use or Addiction?

While LSD may not cause the same kind of physical addiction as some other substances, it can still lead to a strong psychological dependence. If you’re concerned about your LSD use, we recommend talking to your healthcare provider.

They can give you a diagnosis if you have an addiction. They will also help you understand what’s happening and offer guidance and support for positive changes. 

If you’re concerned about LSD addiction, here are some signs you can take note of and discuss with your provider:

Physical Signs of LSD Use

People who use LSD will have dilated pupils and a dry mouth. They can also feel nauseous and experience a lack of coordination and balance.

Using LSD may also affect their vital signs. This can manifest as an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and a high body temperature.

These physical signs can mean LSD use, but they do not necessarily indicate an addiction, as LSD is not considered to lead to physical dependence. However, frequent use and the presence of these signs may mean a problematic pattern of use that might need attention or intervention.

Behavioral Signs of LSD Addiction

Some behavioral signs of LSD addiction include taking more significant amounts of LSD or using it over an extended period than initially intended. There may also be a continuous desire to cut down or control LSD use, often without success.

Addiction can also cause intense cravings and the compulsive use of LSD, despite its negative impact on a person’s life. They will eventually neglect their responsibilities at work, school, or home.

Other behavioral signs of addiction include:

  • Isolation and deterioration of relationships due to drug use
  • Recurrent LSD use in situations where it is physically hazardous
  • A need for markedly increased amounts of LSD to achieve intoxication
  • Poor judgment, concentration, and focus
  • Mood swings
  • Persistent hallucinations, delusions, and altered perceptions
  • Sudden, unpredictable re-experiences of LSD’s effects long after use
  • Ongoing visual disturbances, paranoia, and mood disorders
  • Financial issues from spending or borrowing money for drug use
  • Defensiveness when asked about substance use

This information is not a diagnosis. If you are concerned about LSD use, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional.

Get Professional Help

BetterHelp can connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Rehab Together

What Are Available Treatments for LSD Abuse?

LSD abuse can be challenging to identify since it doesn’t cause physical dependence but psychological dependence. If you’re feeling concerned about it, consult your healthcare provider.

They can help you move forward with proper and effective guidance. Some LSD abuse treatment options they may discuss with you include:

What Are the Side Effects of LSD?

LSD is a powerful psychedelic drug that can significantly impact your physical and mental well-being, especially with continued use. Addiction will only exacerbate these side effects.

The physical effects of LSD use include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating or chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness, blurred vision, and tremors
  • Weakness and tingling sensations

The psychological side effects of using LSD include:

  • Intense visual hallucinations and sensory distortions
  • Heightened anxiety and paranoia
  • Mood swings and impaired judgment
  • Difficulty with perception (time, depth, reality)
  • Depersonalization (feeling detached from yourself)
  • Out-of-body experiences

In some cases, you may experience long-term adverse effects from LSD if you use it frequently. There’s a higher risk of a “bad trip.” These are experiences filled with intense fear, panic, and delusional thoughts.

There may also be recurring moments where you re-experience the effects of the drug, even long after use. Other severe side effects include:

  • Drug-induced psychosis: A state of confusion and disconnection from reality that can sometimes linger well beyond the drug’s initial effects
  • Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD): Disturbing visual distortions that can become a long-term issue

Phone, Video, or Live-Chat Support

BetterHelp provides therapy in a way that works for YOU. Fill out the questionnaire, get matched, begin therapy.

Get Started

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

Are There Safer Alternatives to LSD?

LSD can be a powerful experience, but it comes with many risks. There are no direct safe alternatives for recreational use, but you can create a healthy plan under professional guidance.

If you’re seeking the therapeutic benefits that have been associated with psychedelic experiences or address underlying mental health issues, there are options available. These include:

  • Therapy: Talking to a therapist can be a significant first step. Techniques like CBT can address the root causes you might be trying to escape through LSD use.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Meditation practices can help you achieve altered states of consciousness, similar to what some people seek from LSD, but without the risks of drugs.
  • Natural Options: Some natural substances like psilocybin mushrooms have traditional and religious uses, and research is ongoing to see if they have therapeutic value.

Scientists are studying the potential of other psychedelics, like psilocybin (found in mushrooms) or MDMA, to treat conditions like anxiety and depression. These studies are carefully controlled, but they offer hope for the future.

Safe and healthy ways exist to explore altered states of consciousness and address underlying issues. If you’re interested in exploring the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like LSD, you should do so under the guidance of qualified professionals and within the bounds of the law. We recommend reaching out to a healthcare professional for more personalized advice.

If you’re worried about yourself or someone you know about LSD, there’s help available.

LSD might not be physically addictive, but its mental effects can be powerful and harmful. There are treatments available, like therapy to understand the reasons behind the use, healthy coping mechanisms for cravings, and support for any underlying mental health issues.

The first step is acknowledging there might be a problem, and there’s no shame in seeking help. Get immediate medical attention if you or someone close to you is abusing LSD. Early intervention is crucial in preventing the long-term effects of the drugs.

Get matched with an affordable mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Updated on March 25, 2024
14 sources cited
Updated on March 25, 2024
  1. U.S. Department of Justice. “Drugs of Abuse.” Drug Enforcement Administration, 2017.
  2. Orsolino et al. “The “Endless Trip” among the NPS Users: Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology in the Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder. A Systematic Review.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2017.
  3. Hwang, K.A.J., and Saadabadi, A. “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD).” StatPearls Publishing, 2023.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Psychedelic and Dissociative Drugs.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2023.
  5. Fuentes et al. “Therapeutic Use of LSD in Psychiatry: A Systematic Review of Randomized-Controlled Clinical Trials.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2019.
  6. Liechti, M. “Modern Clinical Research on LSD.” Neuropsychopharmacology, 2017.
  7. LSD as a therapeutic treatment.” Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018.
  8. Tamminga, C. “Substance-/Medication-Induced Psychotic Disorder.” MSD Manual, 2022.
  9. Fiorentini et al. “Substance-Induced Psychoses: An Updated Literature Review.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2021.
  10. Lysergide (LSD) drug profile.” European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  11. Fuentes et al. “Therapeutic Use of LSD in Psychiatry: A Systematic Review of Randomized-Controlled Clinical Trials.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2019.
  12. Lowe et al. “Psychedelics: Alternative and Potential Therapeutic Options for Treating Mood and Anxiety Disorders.” National Library of Medicine, 2022.
  13. Pilecki et al. “Ethical and Legal Issues in Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration Therapy.” Harm Reduction Journal, 2021.
  14. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide).” Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, National Library of Medicine, 2016.

Related Pages