LSD Misuse: Effects, Risks & Addiction

Hallucinogen use, including use of LSD, reached an all-time high in 2021 among people between the ages of 19 to 30.1 4.2% of young adults surveyed reporting past year use of LSD, compared to just 3% in 2016.1

This article will explain what LSD is, where it originated, and the effects of LSD use, including risks and dangers, overdose risk, withdrawal symptoms, and potential for addiction.

What Is LSD?

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a potent hallucinogenic drug derived from lysergic acid, a fungus that grows on grain products.2 It is commonly distributed on small squares of blotter paper, and also comes in tablet, liquid, and capsule form and is typically ingested orally.3

This drug is categorized as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act due to its high potential for abuse and lack of approved medical use in the United States.4 Classified among other hallucinogens, LSD is a psychedelic that can alter a person’s perceptions of themselves and the world around them, causing a person to experience vivid sensations and a distorted sense of reality.5

LSD Effects

sought out for its hallucinogenic properties, LSD is most used by teens and young adults attending concerts, raves, and visiting nightclubs.3 People also use LSD recreationally for its mind- and mood-altering effects, and for the purpose of experiencing emotional or spiritual revelation or breakthrough.5 However, LSD effects are unpredictable and can be influenced by the dosage taken.5 Effects vary due to factors  as well, such as a person’s age, sex, personality, mood, and more.5

Side effects of LSD may include:2

  • Elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature.
  • Dizziness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Tremor.
  • Enlarged pupils.
  • Sweating.
  • Weakness.

Risks & Dangers of LSD

While many people report positive experiences of elevated mood and euphoria from LSD use, others have experienced unpleasant visions and feelings when using LSD, often referred to as a “bad trip,” which can lead to unsettling feelings and even traumatic experiences with the drug.Serious adverse events from LSD use are relatively rare, but use of this drug is not without risk and can lead to the following dangers:5

  • Unpleasant physical side effects. Headache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and diarrhea can occur.
  • Dangerous behavior resulting in injury. Altered perceptions that occur while under the influence of LSD can result in unusual behavior that leads to injury.


Another potential risk from LSD use is   hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).5 More commonly referred to as “flashbacks,” HPPD is extraordinarily rare, but some people who use LSD report experiencing similar moods and visual disturbances they had when under the influence of LSD when they are no longer intoxicated, sometimes even years after they last took the drug.5 HPPD can occur regardless of the number of occasions that someone has used LSD.6

Can You Overdose on LSD?

Overdose is rarely associated with psychedelics like LSD.5 A few fatal overdoses have been linked to LSD use but are typically associated with very high levels of use in combination with other substances, like alcohol.5

Is LSD Addictive?

LSD is not considered addictive; it does not typically lead to compulsive drug-seeking, and does not induce dependence (i.e., there is no withdrawal syndrome).However, uncontrollable, chronic LSD use is possible, and this type of addiction is clinically referred to as a hallucinogen use disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Addition (DSM-V).6 Some of the criteria used to diagnose a hallucinogen addiction include:6

  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control hallucinogen use.
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the hallucinogen, use the hallucinogen, or recover from its effects.
  • The experience of cravings or a strong desire or urge to use the hallucinogen.
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced be­cause of hallucinogen use.
  • Recurrent hallucinogen use in situations in which it is physically hazardous, such as driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by the hallucinogen.

Does LSD Have Withdrawal Symptoms?

There is no recognized withdrawal syndrome included in the DSM-5 for LSD or any other classic hallucinogen.2 However, some hallucinogen users report experiencing fatigue, anxiety, or depression for 12 to 24 hours following use.6

Treating Hallucinogen Use Disorder in Nevada

If you or someone you know is experiencing compulsive or uncontrollable use of LSD or other substances, treatment for addiction is available at Desert Hope.

Admissions navigators are available at and can help you learn more about your treatment options. They can discuss different  levels of addiction treatment, including inpatient rehab in Las Vegas. Learn the types of rehab available, how to start treatment, and ways to pay for rehab, including insurance coverage.

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