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How Long Does LSD Last? Your Guide to This Notorious Hallucinogen

how long does lsd last

Psychedelic substances may seem tied to a particular time and place. But from wondering whether LSD is still relevant to more practical questions like 'How long does LSD last,' this drug retains a big presence in the modern imagination.

Moreover, it’s still important to recognize the signs of this once-prolific hallucinogen. Understanding the symptoms, side effects, and duration of LSD can be crucial for those considering its use, for medical professionals treating patients, and for individuals who may be supporting someone after use.

What Is LSD?

Lysergic acid diethylamide, known widely as LSD, is a powerful hallucinogenic drug. Discovered in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, LSD is known for its ability to alter thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of reality. It’s synthesized from ergot, a fungus that grows on certain grains.

How LSD Affects Your Brain

LSD works by interacting with the serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, cognition, and perception. LSD's interaction with these receptors leads to increased neuronal activity and communication in the brain, which manifests as altered visual and auditory perceptions, emotional shifts, and an altered sense of time and self.

LSD’s Reputation in Pop Culture

While the drug was discovered in the 1930s, LSD rose to outright notoriety in the mid-20th century, becoming entwined with counterculture movements and prized for its mind-altering effects.

Perhaps the most iconic association of LSD is with the psychedelic rock music of the 1960s and ‘70s. Bands like The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, and Pink Floyd used LSD as a catalyst for creative expression, producing music that aimed to replicate and convey the psychedelic experience. The Beatles’ album 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' is a notable example, with its experimental sound and vivid album cover becoming emblematic of the era's acid-influenced aesthetic.

The literary world also felt the effects of LSD. Authors such as Ken Kesey, with his novel 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' and Hunter S. Thompson, in 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,' incorporated their experiences with LSD into their writing, shaping the narrative style of a generation. In the visual arts, LSD inspired a whole movement characterized by vivid colors, swirling patterns, and non-linear imagery, reflecting the drug’s hallucinogenic effects.

Do People Still Take LSD?

LSD usage has certainly not vanished over the years. While its popularity may have peaked with hippies in the 1960s and ‘70s, LSD still maintains a presence in various circles today. It is used recreationally, often associated with the exploration of consciousness, and has also been the subject of recent scientific research exploring its potential therapeutic benefits for conditions like depression and PTSD.

Does LSD Have Any Therapeutic Value?

In the 1950s and ‘60s, before LSD was classified as a Schedule 1 substance, psychiatrists and researchers explored its use in psychotherapy. Now, as noted in a review in The Canadian Medical Association Journal, modern research is revisiting the concept of LSD as a therapeutic tool. Here are some of the areas being explored:

  • Treatment-Resistant Depression: Recent studies suggest that LSD, in combination with psychotherapy, may help alleviate symptoms of depression in individuals who have not responded to standard treatments.
  • Anxiety and End-of-Life Distress: Some research indicates that LSD can help reduce anxiety, particularly in terminally ill patients, helping them come to terms with their mortality and improving their quality of life.
  • Substance Abuse and Addiction: Echoing earlier studies, contemporary research is also investigating LSD's efficacy in treating various addictions, with some findings indicating potential benefits in reducing substance dependence.
  • PTSD and Trauma: There is growing interest in using psychedelics like LSD to treat PTSD and trauma-related disorders, as they may help patients process traumatic memories during therapy.

Side Effects of LSD

Whether used recreationally or for experimental therapies, LSD can produce unpredictable side effects. The side effects of LSD can vary widely from person to person and can involve both physiological and psychological responses. These may include:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapidly shifting emotions
  • Visual hallucinations
  • A distorted sense of time

Sometimes, users may experience additional negative psychological effects like paranoia, anxiety, and panic attacks, commonly referred to as a bad trip.

Signs Someone Is on LSD

Several signs might indicate that someone is under the influence of LSD. These can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Erratic behavior
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations

Someone currently on LSD may also have difficulty discerning reality from the hallucinations induced by the drug. As such, it’s important to handle them with care until the effects have lessened.

How Long Does LSD Last?

Typically, the effects of LSD can be felt within 20 to 90 minutes of ingestion and can last up to 12 hours, with peak effects occurring 3 to 5 hours after ingestion. The duration can be influenced by various factors, including the user’s metabolism, the dose taken, and individual sensitivity to the drug.

How Long Does LSD Stay in Your System?

LSD is metabolized and excreted relatively quickly, with the half-life estimated at around 3.6 hours. This means that LSD is typically cleared from the bloodstream within 22 hours after ingestion. However, it can be detected in urine for up to 1 to 3 days, depending on the testing methods used and the individual’s metabolism. Trace amounts may remain in the hair for longer periods.

Does LSD Show Up on a Drug Test?

LSD can be detected by drug tests, but it requires specific types of testing due to its low concentration in bodily fluids and its relatively quick elimination from the body. Standard drug tests, such as those used by employers, often do not test for LSD.

Address Drug Use with Countrywide Testing

Understanding the duration of LSD’s effects, as well as its potential side effects and signs of use, is important for users, healthcare providers, and those who may be around individuals using LSD — especially since it is difficult to confirm LSD use through drug testing.

But many other substances aren’t as elusive. If you think someone you know may be abusing recreational drugs or prescription medications, Countrywide Testing has the answers you need. We offer discreet, at-home drug testing kits that will help you get confirmation and help your loved one on the road to recovery.

Countrywide offers an array of drug testing products for workplace testing, healthcare emergencies, law enforcement purposes, and individuals trying to stay clean after rehab.

Our test kits are convenient, affordable, and ship to you quickly. Plus, our lab is accredited by SAMHSA, so you can rest assured your test results are handled in accordance with the highest industry standards.

Want more information on how Countrywide can support a clean, drug-free lifestyle? Just contact our team today.