LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) is a powerful hallucinogenic drug that alters awareness, thoughts, and feelings. Although LSD is not typically addictive, it is an illicit substance and detectable on drug screening tests.
When someone takes LSD, it generally takes about 18 hours for the body to fully metabolize the drug. However, it can still be detected in blood for up to 12 hours, in urine for up to 4 days, and in hair for up to 90 days.
How Is LSD Metabolized?
LSD is sold illegally as tablets, capsules, and a liquid solution. The drug is commonly added to an absorbent paper, known as blotter paper, that is divided into squares. Each square represents a dose of LSD.
LSD is taken orally and absorbed into the digestive tract before being sent to the bloodstream, brain, and other organs. The liver rapidly breaks down LSD into several byproducts, known as metabolites. Two of these metabolites include 2-oxy-LSD and 2-oxo-3-hydroxy-LSD.
Once LSD reaches the brain, it interrupts the communication of serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical responsible for mood, sensory perception, sleep, hunger, and other bodily functions.
This causes the mind-altering effects of LSD, including hallucinations that are often referred to as “trips.” A “bad trip” is an unpleasant hallucinogenic experience that may consist of fear, panic, and paranoia.
The onset of effects for LSD usually occurs within 20-90 minutes after ingestion. These effects usually peak within 1.5-2.5 hours and can last up to 12 hours.
Along with hallucinations, effects of the drug also include:
- increased blood pressure, breathing, and body temperature
- decreased appetite
- dry mouth
- uncoordinated movements
- strange behavior
Heavy use of hallucinogens can result in long-term effects such as psychosis and flashbacks. Psychosis may include visual disturbances, disorganized thoughts, paranoia, and mood changes. Flashbacks are recurrences of hallucinations that often happen spontaneously.
Drugs can be measured by their half-life, which is the amount of time it takes the drug to reduce to half the amount in your system. Most drugs take about five half-lives to be completely eliminated.
LSD has a short half-life of about 3.6 hours, which means it takes about 18 hours to completely eliminate the active components of the drug. However, your body turns LSD into inactive metabolites that can last longer in your system.
LSD can be difficult to detect on drug tests because it is taken in small quantities (micrograms) and broken down quickly in your system. LSD is not found on most standard drug tests but it can be specifically tested for through blood, urine, and hair.
Factors that can affect how long LSD stays in your system include:
- type of test being used
- amount of LSD ingested
- how often LSD is taken
Blood tests can usually detect LSD in the blood within minutes after ingestion, depending on the dose. Blood samples are not the most reliable tests and may only detect LSD for up to 6-12 hours after ingestion.
Urine screens are the most common method of drug testing but most standard tests don’t detect LSD. However, specific tests can detect LSD for up to 2-4 days after the last dose.
Urine tests can also test for the metabolites created after your body breaks down LSD. These metabolites are usually found in higher concentrations than the active drug.
Hair follicle tests are non-invasive compared to blood and urine tests and offer a wide window of detection. Generally, 3 centimeters of hair is collected and can offer up to 90 days of detection after last LSD use.
Is LSD Addictive?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), hallucinogens can sometimes become addictive. Although it may not cause compulsive drug-seeking behavior, people can quickly develop a tolerance.
Tolerance to LSD increases the risk the person will repeatedly take higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effect. This increases the risk of adverse reactions like psychosis and paranoia.
Treating LSD Abuse
Although there are no FDA-approved medications to treat LSD abuse, behavioral therapy may be beneficial. Most inpatient programs offer behavioral therapy along with 24/7 supervision from trained healthcare professionals.
Addiction treatment can help you overcome drug addiction and improve your quality of life.
If you think you or a loved one may be addicted to LSD, please contact Ark Behavioral Health today for treatment options.
Family And Community Medicine - Biological Tests
Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) - The Pharmacology Of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide - A Review
National Center For Biotechnology Information (NCBI) - Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) - Hallucinogens DrugFacts
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