Long-Term Effects of LSD

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Even though LSD isn’t highly addictive like some drugs, it can still be risky. The impact of LSD can linger long after the initial experience, sometimes causing unexpected episodes or flashbacks months or even years later. 

People started using LSD for fun in the 1960s, but it became illegal in 1970. Now, it’s a Schedule I drug, meaning that is considered to have no medical use and a high risk of abuse. Read on to learn more about the effects of LSD long-term.

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What Are the Long-Term Effects of LSD?

LSD is a type of drug known as a hallucinogen that makes you see, hear, or feel things that aren’t there. Otherwise known as acid, LSD is usually swallowed. It comes in different forms like pills, liquid, or paper soaked in the drug. An LSD experience – a trip – can last for up to 12 hours. You only need a tiny amount of LSD for it to work. While it mainly affects your mind and what you see or feel, it can still be indirectly dangerous because it might make you do risky things. 

LSD can have lasting psychological effects, especially when used frequently or in large doses. Some people may experience persistent changes in their thought patterns, emotional responses, and perception of reality. These changes can range from subtle shifts in perspective to more significant alterations in mental health, potentially exacerbating underlying psychological conditions. These are some of the most common long-term effects of LSD use.

HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder)

HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder) is a condition where individuals continue to experience sensory disturbances similar to hallucinations, long after the drug has left their system. These can include visual disturbances like seeing halos or trails attached to moving objects, or more complex changes like altered sensory perception. HPPD can be temporary or persist for years, and its intensity can vary from mild to severely debilitating.

Impact on mental health disorders

Regular use of LSD can impact pre-existing mental health conditions. For some, it can exacerbate issues like anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia. The unpredictability of the psychological long term side effects of LSD means that it can potentially trigger a mental health crisis or lead to the development of new psychiatric symptoms.

Potential for flashbacks

Flashbacks are sudden, unanticipated recurrences of aspects of an LSD experience, which can happen weeks, months, or even years after using the drug. These episodes are usually brief but can be disturbing, disorienting, and disruptive to functioning.

Altered perception and cognitive changes

Long-term LSD effects may include changes in perception and cognitive function. This can include altered thinking processes, difficulties with abstract thinking, and an impaired ability to process emotions and social cues. These changes can affect personal relationships and day-to-day functioning.

Potential for substance misuse

While LSD is not considered addictive in the traditional sense, some people may develop a pattern of misuse. This can lead to a preoccupation with the drug’s effects and a neglect of responsibilities and relationships. Any patterns of substance misuse should be addressed to prevent long-term consequences.

image of man representing lsd long term effects

Are Long-Term Effects of LSD Reversible?

The long-term effects on LSD can vary greatly from person to person, and so does their potential for reversibility. Some LSD effects long term, especially those related to mental health, may be treatable.

Professional mental health treatment helps in addressing the long-term effects of LSD. This may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Talk therapies like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) can help people reframe and manage changes in thought patterns and perceptions, leading to effective behavioral change.

HPPD can sometimes be managed with medication and therapy. While the visual disturbances might not disappear completely, treatment can help reduce their frequency and intensity, making them more manageable.

If LSD use has triggered or inflamed mental health issues, recovery can be possible with proper psychiatric care. That said, the extent of recovery may depend on the person’s overall mental health and the nature and severity of the disorder.

Treatment for Long-Term Effects of LSD

The first step in treating the long-term effects of LSD is a comprehensive assessment by mental health professionals. This assessment will evaluate the extent of the drug’s impact on the individual’s mental, emotional, and cognitive health, setting the foundation for a tailored treatment plan.

Psychotherapy, especially individualized therapy, is a cornerstone in treating the psychological effects of LSD. Techniques like CBT can help individuals understand and change negative thought patterns. Other therapeutic approaches, such as psychodynamic therapy, may help in addressing underlying issues related to substance use.

Group therapy and support groups offer a platform for shared experiences and mutual support. These settings allow people to learn from others who have faced similar challenges, promoting a sense of community and understanding.

If necessary, medication may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms related to LSD use, such as anxiety or depression. Medications should be managed by a healthcare professional to ensure that they’re used safely and effectively.

Involving family members in the treatment process can be beneficial. Family therapy helps educate family members about the effects of LSD and how they can support their loved one’s recovery. It also addresses family dynamics that may have contributed to or been affected by the individual’s substance use.

Holistic therapies such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and art therapy can complement traditional treatments. These practices can help individuals develop coping skills, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being.

Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is an integral part of treatment. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management can significantly impact recovery and overall health.

Long-term recovery often requires ongoing support and strategies for relapse prevention. This may include regular therapy sessions, participation in support groups, and continuous monitoring of mental health. Developing a strong relapse prevention plan is crucial to maintaining the progress made in treatment.

luxury bedroom at california detox representing effects of lsd long term

Get Treatment for Drug & Alcohol Addiction at California Detox

If you or a loved one needs LSD addiction treatment, we can help you at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA. We treat all types of addictions and mental health conditions at our beachside facility.

Those who require assistance withdrawing from club drugs can take advantage of our supervised detoxification program. With access to medications and clinical care, the withdrawal process is streamlined, and cravings for LSD are mitigated.

You will unpack the psychological aspect of addiction during ongoing inpatient treatment. Here, you will engage with a blend of the following treatments:

Call 949.694.8305 today and begin your recovery in California tomorrow.


While LSD is generally considered non-toxic and not physically addictive, some individuals may experience persistent psychological effects such as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) or exacerbation of underlying mental health conditions after using LSD, especially in high doses or with frequent use.
Research suggests that while acute LSD intoxication can temporarily impair cognitive functions like memory and attention, there’s limited evidence to suggest significant long-term cognitive impairments in otherwise healthy individuals after controlled LSD use. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential long-term cognitive effects of LSD.


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