What is lsd (lysergic acid diethylamide)?

LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)
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LSD: Overview

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a hallucinogenic drug. This type of drug causes a person to hallucinate, or see vivid images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but aren't. LSD is also called acid, blotter, or dots. It has no odor or color and has a slightly bitter taste. It may come as a colored tablet, clear liquid, or thin squares of gelatin (window panes) or paper. Most often, LSD is taken by mouth. But some forms can be put in the eyes.

The effects of LSD can't be predicted. They depend on the amount taken and the situation in which the drug is used. They may also depend on the person's personality, mood, and expectation. Effects are usually felt within 30 to 40 minutes after taking the drug. The LSD experience is often called a "trip." It can last up to 12 hours.

LSD causes:

  • Enlarged (dilated) pupils, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and dry mouth.
  • Changes in sensations and feelings. The person may feel several different emotions at the same time. Or they may quickly swing from one emotion to another. Also, the person may confuse sensations and feelings, such as "hearing" colors or "seeing" sounds.
  • Loss of time. The person may feel that time is standing still.
  • Delusions and visual hallucinations, if taken in large doses. Delusions are false beliefs. Hallucinations are seeing and hearing things that aren't there.

A "bad trip" may cause very scary thoughts, feelings, and fears. Also, LSD can later cause flashbacks, in which the person suddenly relives certain aspects of the experience without having taken the drug. Flashbacks may occur a few days or more than a year after use of LSD.

In rare cases, LSD use may lead to serious mental health conditions. These include:

  • Substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder. The person can no longer recognize reality, think rationally, or communicate with others. They may have dramatic mood swings. These can range from being extremely overactive (mania) to severe depression.
  • Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD). The person has flashbacks, a return of the sensory distortions that they had while using the drug. The person may have the same flashback for years after stopping use of LSD.

LSD is not thought of as an addicting drug. But it can lead to tolerance, which means you have to take higher and higher amounts to get the same effect.

LSD is typically out of a person's system within 24 hours. Standard drug screens (toxicology tests) can't detect it. But there are special lab tests that can find LSD in the blood.

Signs of use

It's hard to detect LSD use. Signs of LSD use may include:

  • Symptoms such as large (dilated) pupils, sweating, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping.
  • Having small squares of paper or other forms of the drug.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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