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LSD Addiction in Young Adults

You may have some familiarity with LSD, a psychedelic drug that became highly popular among the young adult counterculture of the 1960s and 70s. It is true that, back then, LSD was undoubtedly the drug of choice for youth. But has much changed? In 2013, over 24.8 million people aged 12 or older reported they had used LSD in their lifetime according to NSDUH. The amount of users continues to increase with each year.

LSD, commonly known by teens and young adults as “acid,” “lucy,” or “doses,” is still one of the most potent types of hallucinogens in the underground market today. Classified as a psychedelic, LSD alters a user’s mood and disorients their sensory perception. Those who abuse LSD, therefore, are known to experience extended highs, or “trips,” that last about twelve hours.

The danger of LSD abuse, similar to other designer drugs, is largely in its production. LSD is synthetically made in illegal home laboratories and composed of lysergic acid, along with various other strong mood-changing chemicals. It is manufactured in crystalline form, and later converted into liquid or capsule form for sale. Teens abusing LSD usually administer it orally, either by the capsule or by adding the liquid to absorbent paper known as “tabs” and letting them dissolve on the tongue. LSD is usually odorless, colorless, and bitter to taste.

Signs and Symptoms of LSD Abuse

No matter its form, LSD brings about powerful effects that lead users to abuse it over and over again. The hallucinogen, upon entering the body, directly takes a hold of a user’s brain and causes him to disconnect completely from reality. An individual abusing the drug will experience an intense bliss at first, along with heightened senses and what some believe is true “enlightenment.” The immediate effects caused by an LSD “trip” are much more emotional than physical. Users feel a wave of many emotions, and swing rapidly from one to the other. When a higher dose is taken, LSD users may experience delusions and visual hallucinations. They also may experience a “cross-over” of senses; in which one may hear colors and see sounds. Because of these emotional and mental effects, LSD at one time used traditionally in spiritual and religious rituals. But these same effects that led it to be a high drug of abuse.

LSD abuse is a roll of the dice—its effects are completely unpredictable, and will vary person to person. Because it is a man-made drug, LSD poses the risk of containing toxic chemicals that can harm different people in different ways. LSD varies in the amount and structure of active compounds, meaning a user never really knows what he is going to get. As a result, many users experience “bad trips”—ones that result in immediate panic, despair, and fear. Once a bad trip starts, the only way to stop it is with medication or time. There have been many news stories of young adults on LSD physically harming others and/or themselves as a result of intense terrors.

Other Side Effects of LSD Parents Can Look Include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Profuse sweating and/or chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeplessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Long-term psychosis or depression

Taking LSD at a young age is not always just a “one time thing.” Young LSD users tend to experience flashbacks long after the drug has been taken—years after they tried it. Flashbacks, in which certain parts of the drug experience come alive again, come without warning and impair a person from normal functioning. This is known as hallucinogen-induced persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD). 

LSD Addiction Treatment

While LSD abuse rarely leads to addiction, early users are still largely susceptible to developing a tolerance that may require young adult drug rehab. Because LSD disassociates a user from his day-to-day life and pressures, he may desire to continue to take more of the drug in order to re-experience that sensation. LSD accumulates in the body with every dose, which is why it can lead to recurring flashbacks over time. Because of its accumulation, though, the remnants of LSD will stay in a user and demand that he increase his dosage to obtain the same high. This is extremely dangerous for young adults, given that the effects of LSD are always unpredictable and usually dangerous in high amounts.

Treatment of LSD tolerance or addiction, therefore, primarily requires a psychological drug treatment approach. The effects and symptoms of LSD abuse lie in the Central Nervous System, meaning that an addicted person can be of great danger to others or himself. As a result, Turning Point recommends that young adults and others dealing with an LSD tolerance be supervised and tended to for an extended period of time. Medical and professional overseers can assure that your son is safe and sound as he recovers from his LSD addiction. At Turning Point, treatment for young men with an LSD addiction means carefully monitoring the mental and physical state of each and every client until we are sure the effects of the drug have worn off and been ridden of the body. By replacing drug-using activities with healthy, active alternatives, we also make sure that adolescents and young adults truly learn to live a life without the accompaniment of LSD.