Signs and Symptoms of LSD Addiction

Addicted person crouching in corner

LSD or D-lysergic acid diethylamide is a highly potent hallucinogenic drug. That means that this drug causes dramatic mental, emotional and perceptional changes, including visual and auditory hallucinations. Its effects are notoriously unpredictable, providing uneventful experiences for some people and psychotic episodes for others.

Widespread use of LSD in the U.S. began in the 1960s.1 The drug has gone into and out of favor at various times over the next few decades. Since 2003, use has been climbing again. Between that year and 2020, use has increased five-fold. While an increase like this is never a good sign, the total number of individuals taking this drug is still relatively low. 2

In addition to causing strong and risky mental effects, some people can suffer serious physical effects as well.

Physical Signs of LSD Addiction

Man in pain

LSD is a powerful hallucinogen that creates the most dangerous and dramatic effects on the mind of the user. Still, there are several physical symptoms of use and addiction to this drug.

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature
  • Higher heart rate and blood pressure
  • No appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth or salivation
  • Shakiness
  • Dizziness
  • Inactivity

Behavioral and Mental Signs of LSD Addiction

Artists rendition of strange perceptions

Some of the changes created by LSD are perceptional, for example:

  • Geometric shapes or patterns causing visual disturbances
  • Seeing flashes of color that are not there
  • Objects may seem to melt or move
  • Perceiving sound as color or other perceptive shifts
  • Slowed perception of time

Other changes have to do with emotional reactions and responses.3 Many of these changes are entirely unpredictable and will vary from one person to the next.4

  • Unusual levels of relaxation or sociability
  • Heightened concentration on lights, colors or objects
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Distortion of one’s impression of body or identity
  • Fear of going insane
  • Hallucinations that contain danger
  • Feeling out of control of one’s own body
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Combativeness
  • Euphoria
  • Terror
  • Psychosis

Understandably, some of these mental reactions can be so severe that they put a person in danger of death. There can also be severe aftereffects of using LSD. A user may suffer from fatigue, anxiety and depression for a full day or longer after the drug wears off.

The Long-Term Physical Damage of LSD Addiction

While many hallucinogens are known for only causing psychological dependence, a person using LSD repeatedly can develop a tolerance, meaning that higher doses must be taken to get any effect from them. As doses get larger, physical and mental dangers get higher.4

LSD has been reported to cause severe muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) and kidney failure.5 While LSD use is rarely identified as a possible cause of death, there is always a risk that a person completely out of touch with reality can suffer serious injuries by encountering law enforcement, being assaulted or having an accident.

The Long-Term Emotional and Mental Damage of LSD Addiction

Depressed woman

For some people, the terrifying or disconcerting experiences of taking LSD have lasting emotional repercussions. These terrifying experiences can stay with them long after their drug use ends. They may suffer paranoia, disorganized thinking, mood swings and depression for a prolonged time.

One of the unpleasant aftereffects of using LSD is the flashback, a recurrence of LSD symptoms even though the person has not taken the drug recently. Flashbacks can occur months or even years later and in a few cases, have been disabling.3

LSD can also create psychological dependence, causing a person to take the drug repeatedly to try to cope with life or in an attempt to generate good sensations.

LSD Overdoses

In general, an overdose of LSD comes in the form of a high dosage that creates severely adverse effects. A person taking a high dose of LSD could attempt suicide or have an accident because of reckless and irrational behavior.

Withdrawal from LSD

It is not known with certainty if LSD causes physical withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking it. But it is renowned for its mental effects that can stay with a person for days, months or indefinitely.

LSD Use Statistics

Use has been increasing the most quickly among those aged 18 to 25. In 2003, only 1.1% of this age group used LSD. By 2020, this number had increased to 3.7%. Also concerning is the fact that nearly 1% of American youth aged 12 to 17 have taken this drug in the past year.2

Recovery from LSD Addiction

Trying to recover from an extended period of LSD use and dependence can be a frightening endeavor. It may take a long time for a person to regain their emotional, mental and perceptional balance again. While the overall number of Americans using LSD is low, it can have lasting mental and emotional repercussions.

Families supporting a person in recovery from LSD addiction would be smart to look for a long-term drug rehab that can assist the drug user during their recovery.

The much smarter move is to steer clear of this unpredictable drug and its hazardous mental and emotional effects.


  1. DEA. “D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide.” DEA. 2019. DEA Publication ↩︎

  2. SAMHSA. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health, 2021. SAMHSA Publication ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. DEA. “LSD.” DEA, 2020. DEA Publication ↩︎ ↩︎

  4. MedlinePlus. “Substance use—LSD.” MedlinePlus, 2020. MedlinePlus Article ↩︎ ↩︎

  5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.” Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets.” NHTSA, 2014. NHTSA Publication ↩︎