LSD is a powerful synthetic hallucinogen. The psychedelic drug can cause visual hallucinations and change a person’s mood, emotions and perception. Because it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, LSD is illegal in the United States.
The drug is extremely dangerous. It can damage the body, alter the mind and cause volatile behavior that threatens the safety of the LSD user and others.
Chronic LSD use can cause long-term health problems such as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder. The disorder causes flashbacks to spontaneous visual distortions that may reoccur months to years after a person quits using LSD.
LSD, also called acid, is a white or clear crystal that is most commonly sold on the street as a tablet or capsule. The odorless drug can be crushed into a powder, dried on gelatin sheets, added to sugar cubes or dissolved in water.
In powder or liquid form, the drug can be inhaled or injected. Powdered LSD can also be compacted into small balls known as microdots.
In liquid form, the substance can be transferred onto an absorbent paper called blotter. The paper is usually divided into tabs, which are small single-dose squares. Acid tabs or pills contain 20 to 80 micrograms of LSD. They can be swallowed, licked or chewed.
Young adults abuse LSD more than any other age demographic, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The report found that about 209,000 people aged 18 to 25 were current LSD users in 2016.
Acid is common at dance clubs, music festivals and underground parties called raves. Teens also abuse the substance. According to the 2017 Monitoring the Future survey, about 3 percent of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders have used LSD in their lifetime. However, the number of teens using the drug has significantly declined since the 1990s.
People develop a tolerance to LSD with repeated use. This means that they need to use the drug more frequently or in higher doses to achieve the desired high. However, abusing acid does not lead to drug addiction because it does not cause physical cravings or compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
Although acid is not physically addictive, people can become psychologically dependent on the substance. While individuals may repeatedly use LSD to experience sensory hallucinations, most people wait extended periods before taking the drug again.
LSD use can cause unpredictable effects. Some people enjoy their high, but others endure terrifying fear and feelings of despair. The drug alters a person’s mood, personality and perception of time. The effects can last up to 12 hours, but LSD stays in your system for about five days.
The drug can cause a host of adverse reactions, and it affects judgment. Some people have experienced fatal accidents while high on acid.
An acid overdose occurs when a person takes a dangerous amount of the drug. Overdoses require immediate medical attention.
Excessively high doses of the drug aren’t fatal, but they can cause psychosis and a more intense psychedelic experience. Some people experience a “bad trip,” which can cause confusion, panic, anxiety or helplessness that lasts several minutes or hours.
Taking LSD can be dangerous, but combining it with other substances can lead to more severe health consequences. For example, mixing LSD with alcohol can exacerbate hallucinations and cause risky behavior that leads to injury or death.
Hallucinations can lead to violent behaviors. When assisting people who are high on LSD, it is best to keep them in a safe environment under direct supervision. This ensures that they do not harm themselves or others.
According to a 2006 report by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, a low dose of a short- or intermediate-acting benzodiazepine may control anxiety and increase sedation in LSD users. If they experience depressive symptoms, antidepressant therapy may be needed.
Individuals experiencing psychotic episodes may require treatment with antipsychotic medication.
People who are psychologically dependent on acid should seek treatment or self-help support. Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous encourage people to participate in supportive discussions that teach ways to overcome substance abuse.
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