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Overview of LSD detox

Some drugs, though very powerful, are not physically addicting. A traditional detox is not common because the body has no need for the drug to be in the body. Because a drug is not physically addictive does not mean it is not addictive at all. Psychological addiction can be very strong, and powerful drugs like LSD can cause adverse psychological effects that may need medical attention. Though not physically addictive, one may find they cannot bring themselves to function normally without LSD or be able to stop using LSD altogether. LSD does build tolerance, and this leads to larger than normal dosages, which have a higher rate of adverse psychological effects. A person’s mind can be permanently altered if they take LSD too often and they may need to be physically isolated from the drug, which calls for specialized LSD detox.

LSD, commonly known as acid, “blotter”, or “tabs”, is a powerful psychedelic drug. It is characterized by intense visuals or hallucinations, euphoria, spiritual experiences, and altered thinking, and sometimes experiences called “bad trips” which include hyper-intense paranoia and anxiety. LSD is dripped on pieces of paper to dissolve in the mouth or absorbed through the skin. LSD has been known to trigger underlying mental illness like chronic depression, paranoia, schizophrenia or anxiety disorders. Phenomena called “flashbacks” are also common while in a sober state; the event is characterized by a person experiencing visuals, altered thinking or paranoia weeks, months, or years after using LSD.

LSD was first made by Albert Hofmann in 1938. It was synthesized from the fungus ergot. It was not until 1943 when Hofmann unintentionally ingested the substance that he discovered its psychedelic properties. It was introduced as a psychiatric drug in 1947 but was soon banned. The United States Central Intelligence Agency conducted extensive research on the drug for its use in mind control and chemical warfare. It was tested on military personnel, criminals and mentally ill patients throughout the 1950s and possibly longer. The drug was made illegal in 1968, and the last FDA approved medical studied ended in 1980.

Albert Hofmann and the author Aldous Huxley heavily advocated the use of LSD. It became the focal point of the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The drug was extensively popular in California and throughout the music and art scene. Bands like The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane advocated LSD use and attributed some of their works to LSD. This triggered a wave of LSD use, especially in youth and “hippies”.

Though LSD is commonly called a love drug and considered non-addictive, serious effects have been reported. Schizophrenia is commonly triggered by psychedelic drug use. Many cases of depression and permanently altered thinking are reported. Because LSD is so euphoric, some people cannot find themselves able to stop taking LSD. When they continue to take LSD over a long period of time their perception of reality becomes altered and they may find it hard to function in society. One may need psychotherapy, medication and/or a detox program to assist with stopping their drug use. Some may try to self medicate and then become addicted to another drug. It is important to get medical help if you cannot limit or stop your use of LSD.

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How Detoxing From LSD works

Typically in detox a taper is used to slowly bring an individual off of the drug slowly. Because LSD is not physically addicting, a taper cannot be used. This makes LSD detox slightly more difficult. With LSD detox, comfort medications can be used in conjunction with therapy. Comfort meds help reduce anxiety, depression, restlessness and insomnia. Therapy will be useful in detox because a person will somewhat disconnected from reality after long-term psychedelic drug use.

Because of its unique nature, LSD detox will require psychological monitoring and testing. LSD can trigger underlying mental illness, and in detox this can be looked for and treated effectively.

The most valuable use of medical detox with LSD is the physical isolation from drugs. In detox, a person cannot change their mind on a whim and decide to take LSD. In medical detox, one must go through the process of signing out against medical advice. In this time they may decide to stay, or talk to a therapist or doctor and be comforted with whatever craving or anxiety they are having. At home, one has nothing stopping them from taking LSD; in detox, medical staff works to break this cycle of drug abuse when anxiety or cravings come up.

WHAT DOES THE LSD DETOX PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

In medical detox, one will be evaluated by doctors to determine the most effective treatment. They will then be given a room and a bed where they will stay 3-10 days. Medical staff checks vitals around the clock and doctors and nurses are on site 24/7. Comfort medications are used to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

In detox one will be prescribed drugs like benzodiazepines or barbiturates to reduce anxiety and induce sleep in the first few days. These will soon be limited and non-narcotic drugs like clonidine are used. Trazodone is another popular drug in detox to induce sleep. Often while on LSD people will stay up for long periods of time and may be sleep deprived, so it is crucial to sleep while detoxing.
Antidepressants can be prescribed as well to assist in long term recovery. Depression is a common symptom when quitting LSD because of the deprivation of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. If a person is having symptoms of paranoia, antipsychotics can also be prescribed.

One will also have a therapist they can talk with to discuss symptoms and healthy coping skills they can use after detox. After a long period of substance abuse, one has learned to use drugs to cope; in detox one can start to learn new skills to use to cope with anxiety, depression and fear.

As mentioned previously, LSD is not physically addictive. This means physical withdrawals will not be felt, though some symptoms may seem physical in nature. Psychological withdrawal can cause lack of sleep, problems concentrating and anxiety. These can be severe and uncomfortable. Every person is different and may feel an array of symptoms and severity. It mostly depends on the frequency of LSD use.

A person may also experience depersonalization, which is a general disconnect from reality and one’s self. Paranoia and flashbacks while coming off of LSD are also common. This can trigger severe anxiety or confusion. Problems with concentration and motivation are also very common.

Another common withdrawal symptom is suicidal thoughts, which can be dangerous if not in a medical detox facility. Suicidal thoughts, in addition to lack of sleep and depression, can be very dangerous and may lead one to act on these thoughts.

LSD Detox Withdrawals

Pill Bottle Icon It often either comes dripped on blotter, or on sugar cubes or candy, but also is used as liquid
Pill Icon LSD doses are extremely small, and are measured in micrograms
Syringe Icon LSD is often considered a club drug, and many times used simultaneously as other drugs like MDMA, Meth, Cocaine, or Alcohol

As mentioned previously, LSD is not physically addictive. This means physical withdrawals will not be felt, though some symptoms may seem physical in nature. Psychological withdrawal can cause lack of sleep, problems concentrating and anxiety. These can be severe and uncomfortable. Every person is different and may feel an array of symptoms and severity. It mostly depends on the frequency of LSD use.

A person may also experience depersonalization, which is a general disconnect from reality and one’s self. Paranoia and flashbacks while coming off of LSD are also common. This can trigger severe anxiety or confusion. Problems with concentration and motivation are also very common.

Another common withdrawal symptom is suicidal thoughts, which can be dangerous if not in a medical detox facility. Suicidal thoughts, in addition to lack of sleep and depression, can be very dangerous and may lead one to act on these thoughts.

List of LSD Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Problem concentrating
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fear
  • Paranoia
  • Depersonalization
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder/Flashbacks
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Psychosis

Can you detox from LSD at home?

Because LSD is not physically addictive, in theory one could detox from LSD at home. This is not recommended because some of the symptoms associated with LSD detox can cause a person to put themselves or loved ones in danger. These include irrational thinking, delusions, paranoia, severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts. It is best to be under medical care when coming off of psychedelic drugs in case these symptoms arise.

Psychosis is also a possibility with prolonged LSD abuse; with medical help this can be treated effectively to ensure a happy and long term recovery. In detox, therapists are on site to assist patients and help them develop coping skills. Therapists can also spot other mental health issues like depression and anxiety disorders. At home one does not have any access to help that can assist during and after detox.

Because LSD is so euphoric, one may be extremely depressed and unmotivated while detoxing. This can lead to relapse or a lack of desire to stay sober. In detox it is much harder to change one’s mind about getting sober. At home, one can decide instantaneously to relapse, which can make getting sober very difficult.

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How long does it take to detox from LSD

Length of detox has many factors and is different for every person. Some people will have no symptoms at all, while others can be psychotic or severely depressed. It mostly depends on the length and consistency of LSD use, but also depends on age, weight and height. The initial detox phase will be 3-10 days, but symptoms can be long lasting. HPPD, or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, is characterized by a persisting sense of altered thinking and perception similar to the state caused by an LSD trip. This can last days, weeks or months. Another symptom is flashbacks, which can cause visuals or altered thinking weeks, months or years after last LSD use. These usually come to an end.

Depression can also be chronic and may take years to overcome, but can be assisted with therapy and medication. Most commonly, symptoms dissipate in a week or two. Unless LSD use was extremely severe, most symptoms will only be felt in the initial detox phase. If symptoms persist, talk therapy and coping skills can be highly beneficial. There is a risk of post acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS, which can also be ongoing. This includes trouble concentrating and generalized anxiety.

  • Was originally prescribed for treatment of circulatory and respiratory conditions.
  • In 2008 nearly 1 million people reported trying LSD at least once
  • An estimated 12% of people ages 18-25 have tried LSD
  • Since the synthesis and rise of MDMA, LSD use has declined consistently