Regular LSD users who stop using the drug do not show any withdrawal symptoms. Some of the psychiatric effects that may be present are probably a result of the long term effects of LSD rather than being withdrawal symptoms. However, LSD users may also be abusing other narcotics simultaneously and could be prone to withdrawal symptoms related to these drugs.
Generally LSD users do not exhibit compulsive behavior in order to acquire the drug on a constant basis.
While there is no physical addiction of LSD, psychological dependence may vary among users. A combination of social factors and pre-existing psychological conditions could make a drug user dependent on any substance, including LSD. However, the unpredictable nature of LSD means that the ‘trip’ may vary significantly and could create undesirable effects (bad LSD trip). This may play a part in discouraging users from continuing with frequent use of the the drug.
A high degree of tolerance to LSD develops with time. This means that the user will need higher doses of LSD to achieve the same effect. This makes LSD users prone to abusing the drug and experiencing overdoses. However, the unpredictable nature of LSD does play a part in discouraging excessive use. A ‘bad acid trip’ can be frightening and emotionally disturbing. Nevertheless users with addictive tendencies may not stop abusing drugs and just switch over to other narcotics.
LSD has been associated with some cult groups, where members use the drug in different forms. The reasons for LSD use in these circumstances differ but the hallucinogenic effect is sometimes promoted as a spiritual or psychic experience to unsuspecting cult members. This may compel users to continue using LSD and with a high degree of tolerance, the drug may be used in ever increasing amounts – LSD abuse.
LSD overdoses may cause a prolonged or exacerbated ‘acid trip’. Apart from hallucinations and distorted sensory perceptions, the effects of overdose can be physical as well. This can be life threatening.
By stimulating the central nervous system, it strains the heart, increase water and electrolyte loss with sweating and frequent urination. It may also affect blood glucose levels. In a person with pre-existing cardiovascular and kidney disorders, or diabetes, this can cause serious effects. If left untreated or if the effects are severe, LSD can cause a myocardial infarction (heart attack), dehydration or a diabetic coma. Frightening or emotionally stressful hallucinations may also trigger the body’s ‘flight or fight’ response which can impact on users with pre-existing conditions.
LSD Side Effects
Long term psychosis is one of the most common side effects of LSD abuse. This does not occur in every LSD user and it may be short term or chronic. The long term psychosis that is possible with long term use should not be mistaken for substance-induced psychotic disorder. The latter is common during the use and withdrawal from any addictive substance including alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine.
In terms of chronic mental health problems associated with LSD abuse, this can vary from schizophrenia to severe depression. The user may have been prone to developing these conditions, even without using LSD, so it has not been ascertained if LSD is the sole cause or only a trigger.
Unsuspecting users may not be aware of the effects of LSD, both psychological and physical. These effects may be seen as side effects but the reality is that LSD impacts on the body in multiple ways which are part of its normal mechanism action. Like other narcotics, LSD does not only institute a sense of euphoria – it causes a range of adverse effects as well.
LSD side effects may be a result of overdose or a ‘bad acid trip’ due to the individual’s tolerance/susceptibility to the drug or the quality of the drug.
- Increased body temperature (hyperthermia) similar to that of a high fever leading to complications.
- Excessive sweating and urine output can lead to dehydration.
- Severe nausea may lead to vomiting, further exacerbating the dehydration.
- Loss of electrolytes and water can affect heart functioning.
- Palpitations as a result of rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure.
- Dizziness or lack of coordination may reach a point where the user is unable to walk.
- Fainting may occur.
- Disruptions in neural activity may lead to temporary paralysis.