Full chemical name D-lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD was first synthesised in 1938 and became popular as a street drug but when it was discovered to cause or aggravate personality disorders it became illegal. Also known as "Acid", LSD is often sold dotted on absorbent paper, known as tabs, but as it’s a clear liquid it can be consumed in or on nearly anything.
The drug causes hallucinations, colloquially known as ‘trips’, that can last between 6 to 12 hours during which users experience visions, sounds and sensations that feel 'real' but are not really happening. It can cause users to feel panic, terror and despair and can lead to psychotic episodes and flashbacks.
LSD is not physically addictive; however, regular recreational use of the drug can result in a behavioural addiction – a craving for the drug’s effects. Those who develop this type of psychological addiction are at a higher risk of suffering flashbacks and developing long term mental illness. People who use LSD over a longer period of time can also build up resistance, meaning larger amounts of the drug are required in order to feel the effects. This is very dangerous as it risks overdose or LSD toxicity and also increases the chances of users suffering injury as a result of their actions while under the influence of the drug.
As discussed above, use of LSD does not lead to physical addiction in the way that other drugs such as cocaine can, but use of LSD can lead to behavioural addiction and tolerance, causing a user to require more of the drug, much like a true addiction.
Regular use of LSD can lead to a tolerance for the drug, causing the user to take higher doses more frequently to get the same hallucinatory effects.
People who are susceptible to peer pressure may be more likely to develop an LSD addiction, alongside individuals who engage in risk-taking behaviour.
LSD abuse – and indeed drug abuse of any kind – is different to LSD addiction. Drug abuse is often the first step on the road to addiction. LSD abuse can lead to mental disorders, flashbacks and severely impacts on your ability to handle your usual responsibilities, for instance going to work. LSD ‘addiction’ develops when you seek the drug more frequently in order to experience the trip, and when you develop a tolerance to the drug causing you to increase the dose.