Is Acid Addictive? – LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) also known as acid, is not considered to be chemically addictive. However, regular users can develop a tolerance and psychological dependence and may therefore benefit from professional substance abuse treatment.
Treatment programs are designed to help people stop using LSD and other drugs or alcohol. The most appropriate mode of treatment depends on how much the person is using the drug, if they abuse other drugs or alcohol, and whether they suffer from co-existing mental health conditions.
Is Acid Addictive?
LSD (Acid) is in a class of drugs known as hallucinogens, and alter a person’s perceptions of reality, causing auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations for up to 12 hours. LSD is technically not an addictive drug. Most traditionally addictive drugs encourage compulsive drug-seeking behaviors, but LSD rarely does, and also does not result in physical cravings for more.
However, people who frequently use acid often develop a tolerance – meaning that, over time, they need to increase their dose to achieve the desired effects. And although LSD does not cause chemical dependence, it can be psychologically addictive. Moreover, those who enjoy the sensory changes produced by LSD may want to keep using the drug to continue these experiences.
In addition, many acid users are also poly-substance abusers, meaning that they routinely use more than one substance. One study discovered that the drugs most often used concurrently with LSD are alcohol and marijuana.
How to Recognize LSD Abuse
Hallucinogen use disorder is typically diagnosed in people under the age of 30, and recovery rates are very high. Most who struggle with substance abuse will continue to compulsively use drugs even when that use leads to adverse consequences. It is believed that specific changes in brain circuitry may occur as a result of continued drug abuse, which may reduce the ability of a person addicted to drugs to resist the compulsion to keep using them.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), a person who experiences at least two of the following symptoms within a 12-month period may meet the diagnostic criteria for a hallucinogen use disorder:
- Using more of the drugs than planned.
- Having difficulty controlling drug use.
- Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, and recovering from drug use.
- Experiencing cravings for hallucinogenic drugs.
- Failing to carry out essential life responsibilities in areas such as work, school, or home because of drug use.
- Continuing to use LSD despite consequences that result from use.
- You neglect other activities that were previously important, such as work, friendships, social engagements, etc.
- Using LSD under hazardous conditions, such as when driving.
- Continuing to use LSD even though it causes or exacerbates a psychological or physical condition.
- Developing a tolerance to the drug, so that increasingly higher doses are needed to achieve the desired effects.
- Experiencing physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued.
An LSD high or “trip” can result in a number of short-term effects. Most users experience the effects of LSD within about 30 minutes of administration, and trips can last several hours.
Time may seem to lag or accelerate, and users usually see, hear, and feel things that are not apparent to others. Users frequently report synesthesia, which is a sort of overlapping of senses, such as “hearing” color or “seeing” sounds.
Using LSD typically results in some of the following effects:
- Increased heart rate and body temperature
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Lack of physical coordination
Good and Bad “Trips”
Positive experiences while using LSD are also known as “good trips,” and some report that the distortions of time and sensation feel good or that the high was a religious or mystical experience. However, sometimes, a person who has taken LSD will have a “bad trip” and encounter terrifying hallucinations, feel as if they do not exist, or experience feelings of panic and anxiety and wish for the experience to end.
It’s difficult to predict what type of experience a person will have while high on LSD, but repeated use increases the risk of having a bad trip.
A person who uses LSD regularly for a prolonged period will quickly develop tolerance, and it will take more and more of the drug for them to experience the coveted effects.
In addition to the development of tolerance, some who use LSD over a prolonged period may encounter some mental health problems.
When a person uses LSD, it can cause persistent distortions in a person’s perception of reality. These distortions can occur even when the person has not recently used LSD and can include difficulty distinguishing reality from false perceptions and impaired social interaction.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptual Disorder
Some LSD users report “flashbacks” or unexpected disturbances in visual observations or other perceptions of the environment, even when they have not used LSD for a long time. These flashbacks can range from mild to intense experiences and can last for variable periods of time.
Treatment for Acid Addiction
Seldom is acid addictive in the same way as other drugs like alcohol and opioids – and rarely is it as problematic. Nevertheless, LSD addiction can impair the lives of those who abuse it and may exacerbate other conditions, such as mental illness and polydrug addiction.
Persons who are addicted to acid are encouraged to participate in a long-term addiction treatment program that includes psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. Most people with hallucinogen use disorder can expect a full recovery.
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