Campuses nationwide experience problems with LSD use among students. In fact, the average age many people start using LSD is around 20, putting college-age individuals in the prime risk group for hallucinogen use.

Risks Associated with LSD Abuse

Although the number of people who abuse LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) today is far less than in the 1960s and 1970s, it’s still important to understand the risks associated with the drug. LSD affects serotonin levels in the brain. This neurochemical control’s a person’s mood, senses, memories and perception of pain. It also brings on physical changes to body temperature and heart rate. Someone who takes LSD is under the drug’s influence from six to 12 hours and experiences a wide variety of emotions. While some drug “trips” are benign, others bring on anxiety, panic, anger and paranoia. Under LSD’s influence, it’s possible for a person to do something extremely dangerous or violent due to visions or feelings brought on by a hallucination.Since LSD last for an extended period of time, it’s challenging for a person to function normally or meet school obligations.[1]

In addition to the unpredictable nature of LSD, a person who takes the drug is at risk of experiencing ongoing visions, known as flashbacks, even after the drug leaves his system. These sudden hallucinations and mood disturbances occur days, months or more than a year after using the drug. Another risk of using LSD is the possibility of developing hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which disrupts someone’s senses and thinking after he stops taking the drug. It’s also possible to develop persistent psychosis while using LSD; this disorder causes disorganized thinking, paranoia and troubling mood shifts.2

LSD and Drug Experimentation on College Campuses

On average, a person tries LSD for the first time around age 20. In fact, 482,000 people used LSD for the first time in 2013, a higher number than in many years since 2002.[2] One factor limiting higher LSD use is a lack of availability. LSD use among young people reached its height in the 1960s and 1970s, but then use declined after the Drug Enforcement Administration placed it on Schedule 1 (illegal drugs with no accepted medical use) and more people saw the negative consequences brought by the drug. Use rose again in the late 1980s and early 1990s as more young people began trying the drug. Experts believe some people thought the drug was safe because accurate messages about the drug weren’t as widely available as in previous decades.[3]

Historically, LSD has a complicated relationship with college campuses. In the 1960s, Harvard University professors Richard Alpert (now known as Ram Dass) and Timothy Leary gave psychology students LSD, psilocybin and other hallucinogens as part of the Harvard Psilocybin Project. Psychologists and researchers knew little about LSD, which was created in a Swiss lab in 1938 and later distributed in the 1940s and 1950s. Ethical concerns about the LSD research and an association with the counterculture movement of the 1960s led to LSD becoming illegal and less widely available.[4]

Because of its well-known history, some college students may experiment with LSD and be curious about it. Peer pressure to conform and find a social group can influence students to try the drug. When compared to other age groups, students are under large amounts of stress, both mentally and financially.

Students may turn to LSD use for the following reasons:

  • Distraction
  • Peer pressure
  • Desire for an altered reality

Students who are vulnerable to the psychological changes brought by the drug may need emergency psychiatric treatment, while others may benefit from an addiction treatment program.

LSD Treatment Options

LSD abuse affects several aspects of a college student’s life, making it difficult to organize time and complete assignments. In addition to impacting a person’s school performance and social life, LSD carries the risk of ongoing psychological symptoms. Fortunately, help is available. The following are some examples of LSD treatment options:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Recreational therapy

Inpatient treatment is a useful tool that gives patients a safe, drug-free environment to learn skills for living a sober life. Once inpatient treatment is completed, people in recovery may continue with outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment is a therapeutic approach that involves both individual and group therapy to help recovering drug users work through their struggles without the use of drugs. Recreational therapy also is a great therapy approach for adventurous and athletic individuals. It takes individuals out of their normal element and forces them to rely on others in the group.[5]

LSD Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to LSD, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your addiction questions and help you find the best treatment available. One call can change your life, so call us today.

[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What are hallucinogens? Drug Facts. Retrieved Oct. 3, 2016 from

[2] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. Retrieved Oct. 3, 2016 from

[3] Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E. & Miech, R. A. (2016). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975– 2015: Volume 2, College students and adults ages 19–55. Retrieved Oct. 3, 2016 from

[4] Kansra, Nikita and Shih, Cynthia W. (2012). Harvard LSD Research Draws National Attention. The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved Oct. 3, 2016 from

[5]Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved Oct. 3, 2016 from