September 5th, 2023
LSD has been portrayed in various ways throughout popular culture and media. From the psychedelic experiences described in the book and film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” to the recent resurgence of interest in “micro-dosing” for productivity, creativity and mental health, it’s clear that the drug has captured the public’s imagination. Proponents of LSD argue that it can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and even a potential treatment for mental health disorders. However, despite these claims and common misconceptions, it is essential to understand that LSD addiction is real and can have serious consequences on every aspect of your life.
What is LSD?
Lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly known as LSD or “acid,” is a powerful hallucinogenic drug derived from the ergot fungus. It was first synthesised in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who only discovered its psychedelic effects in 1943 by accident.
The discovery of LSD and its effects initially played a significant role in the development of neuroscience, leading to a greater understanding of the brain’s serotonin system and its influence on mood, perception and cognition. However, its use in psychiatric research and therapy was effectively halted in the 1970s due to legal restrictions.
LSD 101: Did you know…?
- Unlike other drugs, LSD is not considered physically addictive, and users do not experience withdrawal symptoms. However, psychological dependence and the potential for compulsive use can occur.
- Microdosing involves taking sub-perceptual doses of LSD to enhance focus, creativity, and emotional well-being without inducing the full psychedelic experience, but it may lead to dependence on LSD.
- In the 1960s, due to the rise of its recreational use and association with counterculture movements, LSD was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in many countries, making it illegal to manufacture, possess, or distribute.
- LSD is a potent hallucinogenic drug; even small doses can produce profound changes in perception, cognition, and emotions. Users often report vivid sensory experiences, altered sense of time, and enhanced introspection.
What is LSD addiction?
While LSD is not considered physically addictive, developing a psychological dependence on the drug is possible. This is similar to other drug addictions in that it involves a compulsive need to use the substance, despite the negative consequences it may cause. However, it differs from other forms of addiction, such as those involving opioids or stimulants, in that it does not involve the same physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms.
How is LSD addictive?
LSD addiction can develop as a result of repeated use, leading users to crave the intense experiences and insights it provides. Over time, users may become psychologically dependent on LSD, feeling that they cannot function or find meaning in life without it. This can be exacerbated by the belief that LSD is not addictive, leading users to underestimate its potential risks and consequences.
Do I have an LSD addiction?
Recognising an LSD addiction is crucial for seeking help and overcoming the problem. This can be challenging, as the idea that LSD is not addictive may lead users to deny or minimise their dependence, while the psychological nature of the addiction can make it difficult to recognise the signs.
To help determine if you have an LSD addiction, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I use LSD more frequently or in larger amounts than intended?
- Have I tried to cut down or control my LSD use without success?
- Do I spend a significant amount of time obtaining, using or recovering from the effects of LSD?
- Do I continue to use LSD despite the negative impact it has on my relationships, work or other important areas of life?
- Have I given up or reduced involvement in activities that I once enjoyed in favour of using LSD?
- Do I experience cravings or a strong desire to use LSD?
- Have I taken risks, such as driving or engaging in unsafe sexual practices, while under the influence of LSD?
- Do I continue to use LSD even though it has led to or worsened a mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression or psychosis?
What risk factors can increase potential LSD addictiveness?
Several risk factors can increase an individual’s vulnerability to LSD addiction. These include:
- Genetic predisposition: Research suggests that genetics play a role in a person’s susceptibility to addiction, including psychological dependence on substances like LSD.
- Mental health issues: People with pre-existing mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, may be more likely to develop an addiction to LSD as they seek relief from their symptoms.
- Traumatic experiences: Those who have experienced trauma may be more susceptible to LSD addiction, as they may use the drug to cope with or escape from their emotional pain.
- Peer pressure and social influence: Being surrounded by others who use LSD or endorse its use can increase the likelihood of developing an addiction.
- Early exposure: Using LSD at a young age, particularly during adolescence, can increase the risk of addiction due to the ongoing development of the brain’s reward system.
- High frequency of use: Using LSD frequently or in large amounts can increase the likelihood of developing a psychological dependence on the drug.
What are the effects of LSD abuse and addiction?
Some of the health-related effects of prolonged LSD use and addiction include:
- Cognitive impairments: Chronic LSD use may lead to difficulties with memory, concentration and problem-solving, which can interfere with daily functioning and overall quality of life.
- Increased risk of accidents or injuries while under the influence: The altered perceptions and impaired judgement associated with LSD use can result in dangerous situations, such as falls, accidents or engaging in risky behaviours that could lead to physical harm.
- The potential for negative mental health effects: Prolonged LSD use and addiction can exacerbate or trigger mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression or psychosis, particularly in people with a predisposition to these conditions.
- The development of hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD): This rare condition is characterised by recurring flashbacks or visual disturbances, such as seeing halos, trails or patterns even after the drug has worn off. The exact cause of HPPD is not well understood, but it can be very distressing and significantly impact an individual’s quality of life.
- Serotonin syndrome: While rare, the use of LSD in combination with other serotonergic substances, such as antidepressants or certain illicit drugs, can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. Symptoms include agitation, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure and muscle rigidity.
As well as these health risks, the effects of LSD abuse and addiction can be wide-ranging and can cause:
- Impaired relationships with friends and family
- Financial difficulties due to the cost of obtaining the drug
- Legal problems related to the possession or distribution of LSD
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities once enjoyed
- Decreased performance at work or school
Can you overdose on LSD?
While it is extremely rare to overdose on LSD due to its low toxicity, taking excessive amounts can result in dangerous and unpredictable effects, including extreme agitation, paranoia and hallucinations. In some cases, these effects can lead to self-harm or harm to others, necessitating immediate medical attention.
What does professional help for LSD addiction involve?
Treatment for LSD addiction typically involves a combination of detoxification and rehabilitation.
During LSD detox, you will be supported in abstaining from LSD and any other substances you may be using. This process helps to stabilise the individual both physically and mentally, preparing them for the next phase of treatment.
LSD rehab involves a variety of therapeutic interventions, such as individual and group therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy and aftercare, aimed at addressing the psychological aspects of the addiction and providing the skills and resources necessary for long-term recovery.
How to get help for LSD addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with LSD addiction, it’s essential to seek professional help as soon as possible. Oasis Runcorn offers a comprehensive treatment led by a dedicated team of professionals committed to supporting you every step. Reach out to Oasis Runcorn today and take the first step towards a healthier, more fulfilling life free from LSD addiction.