LSD Substance Use and Ibogaine Treatment

Iboga for lsd addiction and substance use disorder

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LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, is a synthetic hallucinogenic drug that has garnered attention since the 1960s for its potent mind-altering properties. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of LSD substance use addiction, exploring its effects, origins, and associated risks.

What is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)?

LSD belongs to a group of hallucinogenic drugs, including peyote and psilocybin, known for inducing vivid sensory experiences during intoxication. It was first synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann in 1938 and, for a period, was used in psychiatry experiments under the brand name Delysid. However, its medical use ceased in 1970 when it was classified as a controlled substance.

Mechanism of Action

LSD affects the brain by interacting with serotonin receptors, particularly those that influence mood, perception, and cognition. The drug’s psychoactive effects result from its ability to disrupt the normal functioning of brain cells, leading to altered sensory experiences, emotional states, and thought processes. Users often experience visual hallucinations, distorted perception of time and space, and intense emotions during an LSD “trip.”

Legal Status

LSD is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S., indicating no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. This classification has made it difficult to conduct research and explore potential therapeutic applications. However, renewed interest in psychedelic research has led to some re-evaluation of its legal status for medical and therapeutic purposes in recent years.

Historical Use and Current Status

LSD was initially explored as a therapeutic agent to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, and psychosomatic diseases. However, during the 1960s, it became a symbol of the psychedelic movement and was used recreationally and spiritually. Concerns about its psychiatric complications led to its prohibition in 1967. Today, it’s classified as a Schedule I drug in the U.S., indicating no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Prevalence of LSD Use

A 2020 report revealed that approximately 2.6% of individuals aged 12 and older in the U.S. (roughly 7.1 million people) reported using hallucinogens like LSD in the past year.[AmericanAddictionCenters.org]

What Does LSD Look Like?

LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, comes in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and liquids. The tablets containing LSD resemble ordinary over-the-counter small pills that are intended for swallowing.

Liquid LSD is highly versatile, often added to absorbent paper squares uniquely decorated and perforated into doses. Commonly referred to as “blotter acid,” these squares are torn along the perforations and placed on the tongue to dissolve, providing the intended dose.

Additionally, liquid LSD is sometimes found in clear capsules that dissolve when ingested, similar to liquid gel medications found over the counter. Another method involves using an eye dropper to dispense liquid LSD under the tongue for rapid absorption.

Characteristics and Consumption

Lysergic acid, a fungus on grains like rye, serves as the basis for creating LSD, an odorless substance that usually appears clear or white. Manufacturers synthesize it into a colorless crystalline form. You can consume LSD in several forms, such as thin gelatin squares, tablets, or a liquid solution. People often call an episode of LSD use a “trip,” which can lead to unpredictable behavior and, occasionally, unpleasant experiences known as “bad trips.”

LSD Effects, Abuse, and Risks: A Comprehensive Guide

In this comprehensive guide, we unveil the highs and often underestimated lows of LSD, offering insights into its Wonderland-like journeys as well as its potential for risks and abuse.

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Effects of LSD

During an LSD “trip,” users undergo a remarkable range of effects that often include:

  • Visual and sensory distortions
  • Alterations in thought processes
  • Intense emotions
  • Surprising insights and life revelations

LSD’s effects generally endure for a span of 8-10 hours, notably peaking around 4-6 hours after ingestion. However, it’s important to note that LSD can also set off an array of side effects. Specifically, you may experience enhanced senses, delusions, and sweating. Additionally, you might encounter feelings of alienation, dry mouth, and visual hallucinations. Furthermore, tremors, anxiety, and synesthesia can occur, as well as dissociation and altered depth perception. Lastly, more severe issues like panic attacks, flashbacks, and depression can also arise.

Some users often build up tolerance swiftly, subsequently needing increasingly higher doses for the same level of intoxication. However, this approach is risky, as it amplifies the chances of experiencing “bad trips” and adverse psychological impacts. Furthermore, while the risk of overdose remains low, it’s crucial to understand that LSD is not entirely safe. Specifically, it can prompt risky behaviors and injuries. Additionally, the drug can have serious repercussions, particularly when mixed with other substances like antidepressants, such as Lithium.

LSD Abuse Statistics

While LSD does not cause physical dependence, its psychological allure can lead to patterns of repetitive use and compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Users often develop a tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect. This can result in risky behaviors and increased exposure to negative effects such as acute toxicity and HPPD.

LSD abuse is a concerning issue with notable statistics:

  • In a 2008 study, approximately 3.1 million individuals in the U.S. aged 12-25 reported experimenting with LSD.
  • According to a 2014 Monitoring the Future study, 3.7% of 12th graders admitted to using LSD at least once.
  • The 2014 Global Drug Survey revealed that 27.22% of Americans who used LSD experienced a “bad trip.”

    Increasing Hallucinogen Use: Trends and Implications

    A recent study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Irving Medical Center reveals an increase in hallucinogen use, particularly Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), since 2015. This rise is notable among adults aged 26 and older, while usage has declined among adolescents aged 12-17 years. The study estimates that over 5.5 million people in the U.S. used hallucinogens in 2019, marking an increase from 1.7 percent of the population aged 12 and older in 2002 to 2.2 percent in 2019.

    LSD and Other Hallucinogens: Trends Over Time

    From 2002 to 2019, LSD use rose across all age groups, with usage in the past 12 months increasing from 0.9 percent in 2002 to 4 percent in 2019 among individuals aged 18-25 years. During the same period, PCP use decreased, and Ecstasy usage also declined since 2015.

    This study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Addiction, is the first to provide formal statistical analyses of hallucinogen use trends by age groups over the last two decades. Researchers utilized data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2002 to 2019, focusing on participants aged 12 and older.

    Health Risks and Perceptions

    Hallucinogens, including classic psychedelics like LSD, are mostly classified as Schedule I controlled substances in the U.S. This classification indicates a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Potential adverse effects include panic attacks, confused states, acute delusional episodes, and a prolonged sense of fear. LSD, Ecstasy, and other hallucinogens can lead to an increased risk of autonomic, endocrine, cardiovascular, and neurological issues, including elevated blood pressure, heart rate, loss of appetite, tremors, and seizures. PCP is considered one of the most dangerous hallucinogens due to its association with hostile and violent behaviors, potentially resulting in physical harm.

    Changing Perceptions and Increasing Use

    From 2002 to 2019, the prevalence of 12-month LSD use increased significantly overall and among respondents aged 12-17 years. However, the perceived risk of regular LSD use decreased significantly during 2002-2014 across all age groups. “Our finding of an upward trend in 12-month LSD use, overall and by age, matches our finding of a downward trend in perception of LSD as risky,” said Deborah Hasin, PhD, senior author and professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

    The study’s lead author, Ofir Livne, MD, MPH, highlights that while recent research points to potential cognitive benefits from certain hallucinogenic drugs, there are still significant gaps in knowledge regarding their safe use. Even professionally supervised use can entail adverse effects that require attention.

     Patterns of Repetitive Use

    LSD users often engage in repetitive use due to the drug’s intense psychoactive effects. The desire to experience vivid sensory experiences and altered states of consciousness can lead to frequent use, despite the risks. This pattern of use can interfere with daily life, impacting mental health and increasing the likelihood of adverse events such as self-harm or accidents due to impaired depth perception.

    Psychological Dependence and Tolerance

    Psychological dependence on LSD arises from the drug’s ability to provide powerful and often profound experiences. As tolerance develops, users may take increasingly larger doses to recapture the initial intensity of their trips, which can amplify the risk of “bad trips” and other negative outcomes. This cycle of use highlights the need for effective addiction treatment strategies.

    Media Influence and Future Directions

    Given the increasing media coverage and positive reports on the benefits of “microdosing” hallucinogens, Livne suggests that these trends warrant a comprehensive examination of the motives and frequency of hallucinogen use. “Our findings merit a comprehensive examination of time trends and motives for hallucinogen frequency and quantity of use,” Livne states.

    Deborah Hasin adds, “In light of popular media reports of a forthcoming ‘psychedelic revolution’ with commercialization and marketing that may further reduce the public perception of any risk, researchers, clinicians, and policymakers should increase their attention to the rising rates of unsupervised hallucinogen use among the general public. Our results highlight such use as a growing public health concern and suggest that the increasing risk of potentially unsupervised hallucinogen use warrants preventive strategies.”

    Study Support and Contributors

    Co-authors of the study include Dvora Shmulewitz from the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and Claire Walsh from the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA031099).

These statistics highlight the prevalence of LSD use and the potential risks associated with its abuse.

LSD Side Effects and HPPD

Unlike many other illicit drugs, LSD users do not typically experience physical withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. However, long-term psychiatric effects may persist, leading to hallucinations and visual disturbances, a condition known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) or “flashbacks.” The exact causes of HPPD remain uncertain, and effective treatments are not widely recognized. Reports suggest that HPPD can last for several months to several years.

LSD Overdose Symptoms

While LSD overdose is rare, it can result in profoundly disorienting psychological symptoms and, in severe cases, dangerous physical symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Animal experiments have shown that extremely high doses of LSD can lead to fatal respiratory arrest (stopped breathing).

Understanding LSD Addiction and Exploring Ibogaine Treatment

LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, is a potent hallucinogen known for its profound effects on perception and consciousness. While it’s often considered non-addictive in the traditional sense, users can develop a psychological dependence on the mind-altering experiences it offers.

LSD Addiction: A Different Perspective

Unlike substances like opioids or alcohol, LSD doesn’t create a physical addiction with withdrawal symptoms. However, its psychological allure can lead to repetitive use, seeking the mesmerizing “trips” it provides. Users might develop a tolerance, requiring higher doses for the same effects, leading to risky behaviors and potential harm.

Ibogaine: A Glimpse into a Unique Treatment

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in the root bark of the Tabernanthe iboga plant, native to Central Africa. This compound has gained attention for its potential to treat various forms of addiction, including LSD.

How Ibogaine Works

Ibogaine is distinct in its mechanism of action. It interacts with neurotransmitter systems in the brain, particularly those associated with addiction. It’s believed to reset neural pathways and disrupt addictive patterns, providing individuals with a window of opportunity to break free from addiction.

Ibogaine and LSD Addiction

While there is limited scientific research specifically on the use of Ibogaine to treat LSD addiction, some anecdotal reports suggest its potential efficacy. Individuals who have undergone Ibogaine treatment often describe reduced cravings, increased self-awareness, and a profound shift in their relationship with substances.

Considerations and Precautions

It’s crucial to note that Ibogaine treatment is not without risk. It can induce intense and lengthy psychoactive experiences, commonly referred to as “Ibogaine trips.” These experiences can be challenging and physically demanding. Additionally, Ibogaine may not be suitable for everyone, particularly individuals with certain medical conditions or those taking specific medications.

LSD addiction is a complex issue that primarily revolves around psychological dependence. Ibogaine treatment offers a unique approach to addressing addiction, including potential applications for LSD addiction. However, it’s vital to approach Ibogaine treatment with caution, seeking guidance from qualified medical professionals who specialize in this area.

If you or someone you know is struggling with LSD addiction, exploring alternative treatments like Ibogaine under expert supervision might provide a pathway to recovery. Remember, addiction is a complex issue, and seeking professional help is always advisable.

What Are Other Treatments for LSD Misuse?

While LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) is not physically addictive, users can develop a psychological dependence on its effects, leading to significant mental health problems and compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

Currently, no specific medications are approved for treating LSD misuse. However, behavioral therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have shown effectiveness. CBT helps individuals identify the root causes of their LSD use, develop new coping skills, and change negative thinking patterns to avoid future substance abuse.

If you are facing addiction and want to learn more about treatment options for LSD misuse, contact a treatment provider today. Starting your journey toward a healthier, substance-free future is possible with the right support and guidance.

Historical Context and Background

History of LSD and Its Discovery

Discovery by Albert Hofmann

LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, was first synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938. Initially, Hofmann was investigating the medicinal potential of ergot alkaloids when he accidentally ingested a small amount of the substance, leading to the first documented LSD trip. This serendipitous discovery opened the door to the exploration of LSD’s potent hallucinogenic properties.

Initial Uses in Psychiatric Experiments

During the 1950s and 1960s, LSD gained traction in the field of psychiatry. Researchers and clinicians began to explore its potential as a treatment for various mental health conditions, including severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol dependence. Early studies suggested that LSD could facilitate profound psychological insights, making it a valuable tool in psychotherapy. However, the drug’s hallucinogenic effects and the risk of “bad trips” raised concerns about its safety and reliability as a therapeutic agent.

Cultural Impact in the 1960s

The 1960s saw LSD move from the confines of psychiatric experiments to the broader cultural landscape. It became a symbol of the counterculture movement, embraced for its ability to alter perception and consciousness. LSD use was popularized by influential figures such as Timothy Leary and became associated with recreational and spiritual purposes. However, its widespread use also led to increased reports of negative effects, including panic attacks, impaired depth perception, and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). These issues, coupled with growing societal concerns about drug abuse, led to LSD being classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, effectively ending its legal medical use.

Integrating Ibogaine into Broader Addiction Treatment Paradigms

Integrating ibogaine treatment with other therapeutic modalities, such as psychotherapy and medication, can enhance the overall effectiveness of addiction treatment. Psychotherapy can help address the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction, providing patients with coping strategies and support. Medications can assist in managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings, complementing the effects of ibogaine.

Holistic Approaches to Addiction Treatment

A holistic approach to addiction treatment considers the whole person, addressing not only the physical aspects of addiction but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions. This approach might include lifestyle changes, nutritional support, and alternative therapies such as acupuncture or yoga. By treating the person as a whole, holistic methods aim to promote long-term recovery and overall well-being.

Future Directions in Integrating Ibogaine

Understanding LSD Abuse

Ongoing research is essential to fully understand the potential of ibogaine in treating LSD and other substance abuse. Future studies should focus on the efficacy of ibogaine in reducing psychological dependence on LSD and its ability to reset neural pathways associated with addiction.

Expanding Access and Safety

Ensuring that ibogaine treatment is safe and accessible to those who need it involves addressing regulatory barriers and improving the safety profile of treatment protocols. This includes developing standardized dosing regimens and monitoring procedures to minimize risks and enhance patient outcomes.

Holistic and Integrated Treatment Models

Future treatment models should continue to integrate ibogaine with other therapeutic approaches, promoting a holistic view of addiction recovery. This integrated model can provide comprehensive support for individuals facing addiction, helping them to achieve sustainable recovery and improved quality of life.


This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional before making decisions about addiction treatment.

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April 14, 2024

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