Expert advice

Dr Caroline West: GP

Dr Caroline West combines her role in a busy inner-city general medical practice with presenting, producing and writing for a number of Australian television shows and magazines. ASK ME A QUESTION

Long-term effects of LSD

Thursday, November 29, 2001
Hallucinogens such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) are extremely powerful drugs.

Question:
I took LSD and have not been the same ever since. What are the long-term effects of the drug? Am I permanently [going to be] high?

Answer:
Hallucinogens such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) are extremely powerful drugs. They affect the senses, distorting how a person perceives the world, even causing hallucinations. Thought processes, sense of time and emotions can also be affected. It is no surprise, therefore, that effects can last beyond the immediate effects (the trip), which can last up to 12 hours.

While around 10 percent of Australians try drugs like LSD at some time, most users are in their late teens or early 20s. One reason people often stop using it is the experience of a bad trip, when unpleasant and disturbing effects are dominant, including paranoia, anxiety, panic, fear, hallucinations and the person feeling that their grasp on reality has slipped. These short-term effects are comparable to the symptoms of psychosis.

While the effects of taking LSD usually pass within hours, it is not uncommon for some effects to persist for days, weeks or — more rarely — for longer. In a minority of people, use may also trigger an episode of a psychotic illness. If you are at all concerned about the longer-term effects of LSD, it is important you discuss these frankly with a doctor such as your local GP. It would also be wise to avoid taking recreational drugs in future. After all — thankfully — there are lots of other, safer ways to have fun. For more information about drugs and their effects, you could check out the Australian Drug Foundation website at www.adf.org.au.

Find out more about mental illness, and how SANE can assist. Visit their website at www.sane.org.


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