LSD Withdrawal: What Are The Symptoms And Timeline?
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Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, or “LSD,” is a famous hallucinogen predominantly used as a club drug. LSD is a popular-yet-dangerous narcotic that induces visual hallucinations, euphoria, and mood swings.
Furthermore, LSD can induce feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Regular users are prone to developing a tolerance to LSD, as well as tolerances to other hallucinogens such as DMT. This results in increasing dosages that can eventually lead to LSD overdose.
LSD is made from ergot fungus and can be found as a white powder or a clear liquid. LSD is not a physically addictive drug; but research has shown that it does, in fact, belong to a group of highly psychologically addictive substances.
LSD may not produce any signs of physical dependence, but can trigger psychological dependence.
Nonetheless, there have been a few recorded exceptions in which users reportedly showed similar signs to alcohol or cocaine withdrawal when they stopped using the substance. In such rare cases, it is highly possible that the patient may have to face problems linked to dissociation; however, treatment for LSD withdrawal symptoms is necessary.
If psychological dependence occurs, users can develop the following unusual withdrawal symptoms.
What are signs of addiction to LSD?
Signs of LSD addiction include:
- Flashbacks or HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder)
- Panic attacks
- Memory problems
- Attention problems
- Problems related to abstract thinking
- Fear of going crazy (related to flashbacks)
- Suicidal thoughts
Flashbacks are the one symptom that most characterizes the withdrawal period. They can occur days, months, or even years after one’s last LSD dose. During flashbacks, the user can experience hallucinations, fear, and even psychosis, known as a “bad trip.” The treatment for these unusual and unexpected withdrawal episodes is based on a benzodiazepine or antipsychotic medication.
Unfortunately, these remedies cannot eliminate the psychological side effects of LSD withdrawal, but they can alleviate some of the symptoms and provide a sense of calmness to prevent the LSD relapse.
What factors affect LSD withdrawal symptoms?
Factors that determine the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms:
- How long was the person taking LSD?
- How often was the person taking LSD?
- How much LSD was (s)he taking?
- His or hers state of mind.
What is the LSD timeline?
- The first effects of the drug are noticeable 10 minutes after the ingestion. This stage is characterized by euphoria and happiness.
- The second stage begins approximately 45 minutes after the LSD consumption. In this stage, the person begins to feel physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and high heart rate.
- Sixty minutes after the ingestion the user experience visual hallucinations in the form of a pixel and colorful dots.
- Ninety minutes after consumption, LSD effects are more intense.
- Three hours after the user took LSD, (s)he will feel the peak of the hallucinations.
- Five hours after the ingestion, the person will slowly start to feel the reality again.
- Ten hours after (s)he took the LSD effects fade away.
- Sixteen hours after the ingestion there should be no signs of the drug effects.
- Flashbacks are not easy to predict. They can occur days, months, or years after the person took the last dose of LSD.
Some experts claim that withdrawal symptoms of the LSD do not exist—at least not in their typical form. In most cases, there are no signs of physical addiction to the drug, but there are many symptoms related to psychological addiction. Some symptoms can be very dangerous and may induce suicidal thoughts.
Rehabilitation and treatment of LSD users are based on behavioral therapy, counseling, family support, and rebuilding relationships with friends.
- Das S., Barnwal P., Ramasamy A., Sen S., Mondal S. Lysergic acid diethylamide: a drug of ‘use’?. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. 2016; 6(3): 214–228. doi:10.1177/2045125316640440. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4910402/.
- Malleson A. G., Rathod N. H., Bruggen P., Salter C. E. Withdrawal of L.S.D. Br Med J. 1966; 1(5501): 1483. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1844658/.
- Health Direct. LSD (acid) and mental health. 2017. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/lsd-acid-and-mental-health.
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