LSD (Acid) Use: Effects & Dangers

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a man-made chemical typically misused for its mind- and mood-altering effects.1,2 In 2021, an estimated 2.6% of people aged 12 or older reported using a hallucinogen such as LSD in the past year.2

This page will cover what LSD is, the effects of LSD, and how to find treatment for problematic LSD use.

What Is LSD (Acid)?

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a synthetic hallucinogen made from the lysergic acid found in ergot—a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.1 Although LSD was first manufactured by accident during scientific experiments, it has become a widely recognized psychedelic drug.3

LSD comes in a variety of forms such as:1

  • Tablets.
  • Capsules.
  • Clear liquid.
  • Small squares of absorbent paper with liquid added to it.

Common names for LSD include:4

  • Acid.
  • Dots.
  • Mellow yellow.
  • Window pane.

The Controlled Substances Act classifies LSD as a Schedule I drug meaning it has no accepted medical uses and a high potential for misuse.5

Effects of Taking LSD (Acid)

When a person takes LSD, it is commonly described as tripping or being on a trip. LSD trips involve experiencing perceptual distortions, intensified emotions, dramatic mood swings, and impaired concentration, attention, and motivation.6

Effects associated with LSD use can be unpredictable and depend on several factors, such as the:2

  • Potency of the LSD.
  • Amount of LSD taken.
  • History of drug use.
  • Person’s age, sex, biology, and personality.
  • Surroundings during LSD use, along with a person’s expectations and mood.

The effects of LSD can start to occur within 30 to 60 minutes of use and may last 10 to 12 hours.6

In addition to the subjective psychological effects described above, LSD use is associated with the following physical signs and symptoms:1

  • Raised blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Enlarged pupils

LSD Health Risks & Dangers

Other health risks and dangers that may occur with LSD use include:1,2

  • Paranoia.
  • Disorganized thinking.
  • Ongoing visual disturbances.
  • Impaired thought processes and perception leading to injuries or other safety issues.
  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).


While rare, hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) may occur following the use of hallucinogens like LSD, when a person is sober and after an experience with LSD is over. HPPD is described as frightening flashbacks or the re-experiencing of perceptual disturbances even when sober from hallucinogen intoxication.7

Perceptual disturbances may include:7

  • False perceptions of movement in peripheral visual fields.
  • Flashes of color.
  • Intensified colors.
  • Geometric hallucinations.
  • Seeing entire objects that are not really there.
  • Trails of moving objects.
  • Afterimages (shadows of objects remaining after the object has been removed).
  • Halos around objects.
  • A misperception of the size of images.

The disturbances must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. These perceptual disturbances may last for weeks, months, or even years.7

HPPD is primarily associated with LSD use. It can occur in people with minimal exposure to hallucinogens as well as people who have taken hallucinogens multiple times. Prevalence estimates of HPPD among those who use hallucinogens is about 4.2%.7

Can You Overdose on Acid?

An overdose happens when a person uses enough of a drug to produce uncomfortable feelings, life-threatening symptoms, or death. Overdosing on LSD is typically referred to as a “bad trip.”4 These “bad trips” are typically longer and more intense episodes that occur when a person uses larger doses of LSD.4

Symptoms of an LSD overdose can include:2,6

  • Fear.
  • Intense anxiety.
  • Panic.
  • Confusion.

Fatalities from LSD use are rare.2 However, since LSD is illicitly processed, it may be contaminated with fentanyl or other dangerous substances that can increase a person’s risk of overdose or death.2

Is LSD Addictive?

LSD is not considered to be addictive.2,9 Regardless, it is possible for LSD use to become problematic, where a person may be unable to stop using LSD despite the adverse consequences they experience, and a healthcare professional may diagnose them as having a hallucinogen use disorder.7

Can You Withdraw From LSD?

LSD is not known to be associated with withdrawal symptoms.1 However, some people have reported the following feelings for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after stopping LSD use:6

  • Fatigue.
  • Acute anxiety.
  • Depression.

Treating Hallucinogen Use Disorder in Florida

If you or someone you care about is struggling with hallucinogen use, help is available. River Oaks Treatment Center, a drug rehab near Tampa, FL, provides substance use treatment that addresses each person’s individual needs.

In addition to inpatient rehab, River Oaks offers other levels of addiction treatment, such as medical detox and outpatient treatment. To learn more about how the team of treatment professionals at our rehab facility can help you or your loved one, call .

A compassionate admissions navigator will walk you through the rehab admissions process, answer your questions about addiction treatment, and explain your various rehab payment options.

River Oaks Treatment Center is in-network with most major insurance providers. Find out how to use health insurance coverage for rehab or now.

Please know that treatment for problematic LSD use is available. We are here to help you start your recovery.


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