Compared to stimulant and opiate drugs, psychedelics carry a low potential for addiction. When used on a regular basis, the potential for addiction is there, though full-blown addiction takes considerably longer than with other drug types. The same conditions apply in cases where LSD abuse becomes a regular practice.
LSD, a long-time psychedelic, pretty much sets the standard for all drugs in its class. Hallucinations, and a distinct disconnect from reality best characterizes an LSD “high.” Even though psychedelics carry a low addiction risk, LSD abuse can bring on long-term health risks long before addiction takes hold.
Psychedelic drugs are best known for their ability to distort reality and bring on hallucinations. As part of a larger class of drugs known as hallucinogens, two main characteristics apply for all psychedelic drugs:
- All affect the brain’s cognitive and perception functions
- Each drug has a cross-tolerance effect
When ingested, psychedelics cause the brain to secrete massive amounts of dopamine and serotonin, which are both essential neurotransmitter chemicals. These chemical effects alter the areas of the brain responsible for cognition and perception, which accounts for why users “disconnect” from reality when using the drug. The cross-tolerance effect has to do with the addictive potential of psychedelics as a group, meaning regular use of any one drug will increase a person’s tolerance level for any other type of psychedelic.
LSD, also known as lysergic acid diethylamide, is a synthetic drug that’s known to produce unpredictable effects from dose to dose. According to Brown University Health Education, the cross-tolerance effects of LSD make a person less sensitive to the effects of the drug. In the process, users must take increasingly higher doses to experience the same desired drug effect. This tolerance effect accounts for many of the long-term health risks caused by LSD abuse.
Long-Term Effects of LSD Abuse
On average, the initial effects from LSD gradually wear off within a 12-hour period. During this 12-hour period, the brain continues to secrete high levels of neurotransmitter chemicals.
Ongoing LSD abuse can cause a person to experience sudden flashbacks for days or even months after the last dose. Flashbacks may be from childhood or from hallucinations had when using.
Other long-term effects from LSD abuse include:
- Persistent feelings of anxiety
- Depression symptoms
- Distorted sense of time
- Violent behavior displays
- Mood swings
Indirect Long-Term Effects
The indirect long-term effects of LSD abuse closely resemble those caused by drug abuse in general, some of which include:
- Drug-induced violence that results in harm to self or others
- Relationship problems
- Inability to cope with everyday life
- Risk of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases
Dangerous effects associated with LSD abuse have more to do with the types of behaviors users engage in when “tripping.” Users have been known to feel as if they could fly, leading to actual attempts to fly. Similar dissociative effects from LSD can place a person in any number of dangerous situations as well as endangering those around him or her.