10 Long-Term Effects Of LSD

We’ve all heard of the hippie revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. One major element of this culture was psychedelic drugs—the most well-known being LSD. LSD, also known as “acid,” although not as popular as once before, is still a prevalent illegal narcotic in today’s society. But what exactly is LSD? More importantly, what are some long term effects of LSD ? In this guide, we are going to explore everything there is to know about this popular psychedelic drug. We are also going to learn about 10 long term effects of LSD on the human body. Now, we’re ready to depart on our “trip” into the world of LSD.

What Is LSD?

History & Specifics

LSD, short for d-lysergic acid diethylamide, is an illegal narcotic classified in the hallucinogenic category. First synthesized in 1938 from ergot, a fungus that grows on grain, LSD was originally thought of as an accident. Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann thought he was creating a respiratory and circulatory system stimulant. Turns out, he was wrong.

After consuming the drug in 1947, Hofmann discovered that it caused long-lasting intense visual and auditory hallucinations. After being used in the 1950s and 1960s as a research drug for schizophrenia, LSD was eventually deemed a dangerous narcotic in the 1960s and was one of the first drugs classified as a Schedule 1 Drug on the Controlled Substances List.

LSD is commonly found in tablet, pill, liquid or paper form. Effective doses of LSD are extremely small, usually millionths of a gram, but last fairly long. On average, LSD “trips” can last up to 12 hours. The long term effects of LSD generally involve the brain, but can affect the body as well. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) holds the belief that LSD provides no medical value. However, some scientists outside the United States have begun experimenting with the hallucinogen once again.

Is There a Need to Bring Awareness to LSD Use?

“Tripping” on LSD may sound like an exciting, and maybe even fun, proposition for some rebellious individuals. But the truth of the matter is, the long term effects of LSD can have negative, and perhaps devastating, consequences for the mind and body. LSD seems to fly somewhat under the radar in the United States compared to other drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, and marijuana.

 Bringing awareness about the long term effects of LSD to the youth is imperative due to the potential dangerous consequences they can face if choosing to use the drug. Let’s take a look at 10 long term effects of LSD that might sway a potential user’s opinion of the hallucinogen.

The Long Term Effects of LSD

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, more commonly referred to as HPPD, is a disorder characterized by the individual suddenly re-living the visual and audible sensations and emotional feelings associated with the drug. HPPD, also referred to as “flashbacks,” is most notably associated with LSD but can be caused by other hallucinogens as well. The most common effects of HPPD are visual trails or halos around light sources.

However, in some cases, actual visual and auditory hallucinations can occur. For the most part, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is fairly harmless, but in rare cases these flashbacks can lead to severe emotional distress. Individuals with pre-existing mental conditions such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder who suffer from HPPD generally experience symptoms related to these pre-existing mental disorders.

Flashbacks are generally rare, but when they happen, they are often random and disturbing in nature. In other words, they tend to happen out of nowhere. Due to the rarity and general harmlessness of HPPD, there is no specific treatment for the disorder. In fact, most individuals who suffer from the disorder rarely seek any professional treatment for it.

However, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is known to cause anxiety in some individuals. These individuals are usually prescribed medication to ease this anxiety. HPPD is widely considered irreversible, although the effects tend to wear off after several years. Flashbacks can be chronic for some, but most who use LSD will probably never experience Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder.

Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin Syndrome occurs when a drug floods the brain with neurotransmitters, most notably dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin, mostly associated with feelings of happiness, are triggered by everyday events naturally in the brain. The brain naturally releases these neurotransmitters in regulated, small doses. A hallucinogen such as LSD sends too many of these neurotransmitters to the brain which can cause it to overload, leading to the following symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Seizures

While Serotonin Syndrome is relatively acute in nature, complications from severe side effects, such as high fever and seizures, can lead to some form of brain damage. It is possible to reverse some of this brain damage with proper medical care, but complications from brain damage, such as mood swings, learning disorders and memory trouble, can be permanent.

Drug-Induced Psychosis

LSD cannot cause psychosis itself, but individuals who suffer from psychosis and take LSD can experience the side effects of the disorder. You may think taking hallucinogens is a harmless thing to do, but you may unknowingly have a genetic pre-disposition to some form of mental psychosis. Hallucinogens, such as LSD, can cause these genetic pre-dispositions to emerge.

Remember, there is no such thing as safe substance abuse. This is especially true when dealing with a substance as volatile to the brain as LSD. Psychosis is a condition that will never fully go away.. It can only be managed with many years of medication and intensive mental therapy.

Risk of Tolerance

Although LSD is widely considered to be non-addictive, there is still a risk of developing some tolerance to the drug. This tolerance is generally physical in nature and occurs when larger doses of the drug are consumed. When taking large amounts of LSD in short periods of time, it is possible to develop a physical tolerance to other hallucinogens, such as DMT and mescaline. This tolerance usually decreases after a few days of sobriety. For the most part, the physical dependency caused by LSD is a relatively unknown science and is still being researched today.

Tolerance to LSD is not only physical in nature. In rare cases, with a very heavy user, a psychological dependency to hallucinogens such as LSD can happen. This psychological dependency leads to irritability, anxiety, and restlessness when the suffering individual is denied access to LSD after a few days and begins to withdraw.


While many recreational drugs are associated with dangerous, and sometimes deadly, overdoses, LSD is not a drug that is known for this. In fact, there is not a known case of a person dying from the physical side effects of LSD. However, if an individual takes a large enough dose of LSD, it can lead to enough paranoia to make a person lash out in suicide, be harmful to others, and get into accidents due to the individual not being able to distinguish fantasy from reality.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there were 4,819 visits to the emergency room caused by LSD. When compared to ER visits caused by other illicit drugs, this impact is fairly minimal. However, this data does confirm that there are individuals suffering from the mental and physical side effects of LSD use.    

Other Possible Long Term Effects of LSD

Listed below are five other possible long term and negative side effects of LSD use:

  • Sweating or chills AKA “goosebumps”
  • Impaired depth perception
  • Sleeplessness
  • Distortion of time and sensibility
  • Terrifying thoughts and ideas

What We’ve Learned About LSD

Remember, these are just the top 10 possible long term effects of LSD. Given the fact the drug is relatively underground in nature, it is possible some long term effects of the drug are still unknown. Outside of the United States, research and experimentation are still being done on the hallucinogen. Drugs that affect chemicals in the brain, distort reality, and cause hallucinations require intense study due to the intricacies of the sciences involved.

These types of hallucinogenic drugs can also have permanent effects on the brain, including brain damage. As previously noted, brain damage can be reversed with intense medical care, but most of the time brain damage is irreversible. Although most long term effects of LSD are non-fatal in nature, they can cause mental problems that can linger for a lifetime. These mental disorders can impede daily life and cause strain on family and friends. Not to mention, the medications for these mental disorders have side effects of their own.

Even though LSD is widely considered a harmless “trip,” not all experiences with the drug are pleasant. More awareness needs to be raised due to the reason that the drug has a cult following and is mostly ignored by the media and health officials. Hopefully, in the future, more research and breakthroughs are made in the study of this mysterious hallucinogen.

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