The Longevity of LSD Effects

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), or acid, as it is more frequently known as, is an incredibly powerful hallucinogenic and psychedelic drug that was developed in the 1940’s as a tool to help with mental health disorders. Today, it is popularly used by many subcultures in the United States as a recreational substance. New research from a study published in Cell have delved into why LSD is able to have such a long lasting effect on individuals. Here is some information about the longevity of LSD’s effects…

Small amounts of LSD go a long way

The first thing that must be noted is that LSD is incredibly potent. A small amount of LSD is able to have a tremendous psychedelic effect on its user. Taking more than a single dose is known to cause extreme hallucinogenic side effects, which can distort the user’s vision of reality in disruptive ways that can cause permanent brain damage.

How LSD affects the mind

The study in Cell examined the molecular structure of LSD and how it would react to brain chemical receptors. LSD is very similar in its chemical makeup to serotonin, which produces pleasure in the brain. Because of this similarity, the brain allows LSD to infiltrate its receptors without much resistance, which is why it is able to have such a powerful effect with such a small amount. This is also what allows the effects of LSD to last so long, as it is able to stay on the serotonin receptors for between 8 to 12 hours at a time. Interestingly enough, this realization might actually have implications for mental health research, as it shows how medications with a similar molecular structure to serotonin have the capacity to be better implemented into the brain.

Perception of time is thrown off

On top of LSD effects lasting a relatively long time, compared to other types of substances, the effect of the drug itself can make this 8 to 12 hours seem like even longer. This is due to the fact that users of LSD often lose their perception of time, which means that an hour can feel like a day, since they lose the capacity to recognize the relative nature of time.


Due to the longevity that LSD has in the brain, there is a phenomenon known as flashbacks that happens when an individual takes a regular amount of acid, over time. A flashback occurs when a person isn’t currently on LSD, and hasn’t been for a little while, but suddenly is thrown back into a psychedelic trip. Flashbacks can occur as far as years down the road.

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