First developed in 1938, LSD exists as the most powerful hallucinogenic drug in existence. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, LSD contains lysergic acid, a fungus-type substance found in rye and grains.
While hallucinogens as a group encompass a wide range of different drug types, LSD most exemplifies the effects of this drug group. LSD carries a low risk of physical dependence, though the risk of LSD addiction runs considerably higher than most other hallucinogen drugs.
LSD’s low physical dependence potential coupled with its high addiction potential can easily deceive regular users of the drug. This drug produces ongoing effects which alter certain key brain chemical processes in harmful ways. For this reason, LSD addiction treatment places a heavy emphasis on helping addicts overcome the psychological aftereffects of the drug rather than its physical effects.
LSD Effects in the Brain
LSD exerts its greatest effects on the brain’s serotonin system. Serotonin, one of a handful of primary neurotransmitter chemicals, plays a central role in regulating most every central nervous system function, including:
- Mood states
- Pain sensitivity
- Impulse control
According to Bryn Mawr College, LSD essentially commandeers the body’s central nervous system, which accounts for its ability to produce hallucinations. In addition to LSD’s direct interactions, changes in serotonin levels also work to offset other essential neurotransmitter chemical processes.
Tolerance Level Effects
In spite of LSD’s low risk for physical dependence, a person can still develop a tolerance for the drug’s effects within a short period of time. In general, the body becomes physically dependent on a drug at the point when withdrawal effects start to develop. LSD doesn’t produce withdrawal effects, but the brain’s chemical system quickly adapts to the drug’s presence. As this happens, users must ingest increasingly larger doses of the drug to experience its “high” effects.
Levels of Treatment for LSD Addiction
More than anything else, LSD addiction develops out of the brain’s growing psychological dependence on the drug. Someone who’s psychologically dependent on LSD comes to rely on the drug’s effects to cope with daily life stressors.
As changes in serotonin output can greatly offset a person’s psychological stability, the ongoing use of LSD will eventually compromise a person’s psychological stability over time. Levels of treatment for LSD addiction vary depending on the severity of a person’s addiction in terms of the degree to which the drug disrupts his or her daily life.
Since LSD produces no discernable withdrawal effects, LSD addiction treatment focuses on treating the psychological aftereffects of the drug. Levels of treatment used include:
- Inpatient outpatient programs
- Outpatient treatment
- Support groups
Inpatient outpatient programs offer the most intensive level of treatment followed by outpatient programs and support group attendance. Each program level offers behavioral treatment interventions, which make up the bulk of treatment overall.
Behavioral therapies used in LSD addiction treatment work to address the underlying emotional issues that drive a person to become psychologically dependent on the drug’s effects. Behavioral therapies commonly used include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – identifies faulty thinking patterns and belief systems while helping patients develop a healthy mindset towards self and others
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) – combines CBT interventions with stress management and mindfulness or self-awareness practices
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) – helps patients work through ambivalence issues regarding the need to stop abusing LSD; helps patients become more engaged in the treatment process
In the absence of uncomfortable withdrawal effects, it’s easy to disregard the harmful of effects of LSD on the mind. Once the effects of the drug start to interfere with a person’s ability to manage the affairs of daily life, it’s time to consider getting needed treatment help.
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