Drug and Alcohol

Acid Trip: What Is an Acid Trip, and How Long Does One Last?

What is an Acid Trip?

What is an acid trip? LSD can create incredibly powerful experiences...but they can also be frightening. Learn more about acid trips in our blog.

An acid trip is associated with lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD, a potent hallucinogen that is known to cause short-term but significant changes in a person's mental state. Also called acid, LSD can create hallucinations and out-of-body experiences that are disassociated with reality.

These LSD-induced experiences are referred to as an acid trip. Under the influence of acid, a person experiences one-of-a-kind highs, primarily emotionally. Many people also experience vivid hallucinations. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the use of LSD.

Over the last few decades, the abuse levels of LSD have gone up and down, but they have never ceased to exist.

Classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), LSD is no longer recommended for medicinal use though, at some point, it did create some buzz for helping the chronically ill. Today, LSD is illicit in every sense and presents a significant potential for abuse. Across the United States, acid usage and possession are illegal. 

Acid by the Numbers:

According to the Controlled Substances Act, the U.S. government has classified LSD as a Schedule I substance. These drugs have a very high potential to cause harm. In 2021, around 24% of 12th graders in the US stated it was fairly easy to obtain LSD.

Also, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the organization that conducts the biggest annual national survey across the US for drug use, reports that LSD is counted among one of the most well-documented psychedelics

Acid Trip: What Is an Acid Trip Like?

Most acid users divide their acid trips into good trips and bad trips.

A good acid trip occurs when the acid user experiences a profound state of well-being. This translates into euphoria; some people even have experiences they consider spiritual.

Occasionally, some drug abusers might have a bad trip. This is when an acid trip invokes anxiety and fear, like a nightmare that feels all too real.

It is hard to define how long or short a trip will last for—the effects of acid on a person vary widely with every user. A good trip creates an emotional state of extreme happiness, and some people can develop a reliance on acid. Obviously, the acid trip here is sans the worries that would otherwise bother someone. A good acid trip can make a user return to using LSD, repeatedly seeking the same feeling of heightened enjoyment that is often also called entering a state of extreme insight. A good acid trip can be even spiritual for some.

Alternatively, a bad LSD trip can quickly upset a person, overwhelm the user with unpleasant notions of reality, and bring about the worst reactions. If you are wondering how to stop an acid trip, please note that there is no way to control, moderate, or stop it entirely. LSD takes time to wear off. Its effects cannot be pre-determined or predicted.

Similarly, maintaining a timeline on the effects of LSD can be really difficult. It might take days or days for the drug to wear off. To summarize, there is no clear way to describe an acid trip, as everyone has slightly different experiences to share.

How Long Does an Acid Trip Last?

Most mental health experts familiar with addiction treatment will agree that the acid trip occurs nearly 20 to 90 minutes after consuming the acid. The onset of the LSD action might take up to 90 minutes. The slightly delayed aftereffects can linger for up to 12 hours.

The duration of the trip cannot be defined. It varies from person to person and is also influenced by the state of mind and other substances the person might have consumed, like alcohol or opioid painkillers. Numerous side effects of the acid emerge and get stronger due to the acid's interference with the brain's chemistry. A person might feel symptoms ranging from drowsiness to the onset of hallucinations, anywhere from 20 minutes to 90 minutes after taking the acid.

For some, an acid trip can last for as long as 12 hours.

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Acid Trip: A Rough Timeline of What Happens During an Acid Trip

LSD, or acid, is like any other drug: everyone experiences it a little differently. While there are no strict guidelines on how an acid trip progresses, there are some general phases everyone seems to go through while using this hallucinogenic drug.

Here’s a very rough timeline of what to expect during an acid trip:

Acid Trip: 10 Minutes

In just about 10 minutes of consuming the drug, many feel a sense of euphoria.

Acid Trip: 45 to 90 Minutes

Around 45 to 90 minutes after consuming the acid, physical symptoms start getting stronger.

Acid Trip: After One Hour

Nearly one hour after ingesting the drug, visual hallucinations start.

Acid Trip: 90 Minutes

In about 90 minutes, a rapid heart rate can set in. Plus, colorful dots and visuals intensify.

Acid Trip: After 3 Hours

The hallucinations tend to peak about 3 hours after taking LSD

Acid Trip: After 5 Hours

The user might regain some sense of reality about 5 hours, as the LSD effects start wearing off

Acid Trip: 16 Hours

After nearly 16 hours, the drug's effects should have primarily gone, but this isn't a surety; even then, the person might have visual flashbacks.

What Does an Acid Trip Really Feel Like?

The feelings encountered because of the trip, and the entire experience have a lot of variables. However, over the years, some common acid trip symptoms have been noted, such as:

Psychological Hallucinations

This is perhaps the most spoken-about aspect of LSD highs. The person might see, feel, taste, or hear things that don't exist. The difference between an illusion and reality ceases to exist, and the hallucinations could be traumatic or enjoyable. 

Severe Mood Swings

The person might turn hostile or a bit too friendly. There might be bouts of sudden affection for the most invaluable things. This can quickly turn into paranoia and bursts of anger. All these moods might repeatedly interchange, bringing about intense mood swings.

Visual Distortions

Some people have shared seeing many colors, and the shades seem unusually bright. Another common feedback is seeing swirling patterns or halos. Nearby objects might appear far away, and small things might look magnanimous. The person might see innate things talking back or floating in the air. 

Physical Changes

The LSD trip can induce sweating, palpitations, increased heart rate, and elevated blood pressure. Through the acid trip, the person might not have any hunger at all.

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What Are Some Short-Term Effects of an Acid Trip?

Some effects of the acid trip can continue even as the effect of LSD weakens and even when the trip nears its end:

  • Experiencing vivid audio and visual hallucinations

  • Sudden euphoria 

  • Muscle cramps

  • Difficulty moving

  • Feeling of weakness

  • Tremors

  • Memory problems

  • Problems with mental focus

  • Dry mouth

  • Higher body temperature

  • Losing appetite

Acid Trip: How Does LSD Work?

LSD is a heavy-duty hallucinogenic substance. Its initial research and origins have been traced to a fungus called ergot. Ergot usually grows on foods like rye and common cereals. The ability of LSD to create a feel-good high is because its molecular structure is highly similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is known to induce a feeling of goodness.

The effects of acid are very similar to how other psychedelics work. Drugs like DMT also work in a similar fashion. To understand why this is important, understand the role of serotonin in a person's mental health, affecting social behavior, mood, sleep, emotions, feelings, perceptions, hunger, sexual desire, and even body temperature.

While serotonin is naturally produced in the body, LSD is a synthetically manufactured drug. The highly controversial bodily and mental effects of LSD usually manifest in the form of strong hallucinations. Its use creates distorted perceptions of everything around the person, from color and shape to objects—put together, this is referred to as a psychedelic experience, which constitutes the acid trip.

The trip's intensity is defined by the drug's strength, which affects how much acid is consumed at one time. The trip's onset and intensity are also affected by the user's body weight. If someone is using other prescription medications that might boost the effect of LSD, the trip might get extreme beyond expectations.

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Acid Trip: What Forms Does LSD Come In?

Each batch of LSD comes with a different strength. LSD is most likely to be sold illegally on the street as It’s usually sold as blotter paper, which is soaked in LSD. The absorbent paper sheets carry the drug and come in colorful designs. Some users cut the sheets into small dosage units. Each small section acts like one dose of acid. Some people prefer LSD in the form of thin squares of gelatin. This is also called panes or windowpanes.

Other available forms of acid include tablets. These dots or capsules are small. Others prefer squeezing the acid liquid on sugar cubes, but it is perhaps the liquid form that remains exceptionally potent. LSD comes in a crystal form. To transform it into a more ingestible form, LSD needs to be liquified or absorbed in different mediums. On its own, LSD comes without any unique flavor or color.

If you are thinking that LSD-induced abuse is a thing of the past, it might be surprising to know that LSD is making a comeback, especially among younger people. By some estimates, the market for LSD is now anticipated to grow from about $2 billion in 2020 to nearly $10 billion in 2027.

What Does LSD Taste Like?

When available on the street, LSD comes in a variety of forms, mostly taken orally. The mildly bitter aftertaste might be detectable for some people. The potent liquid form is clear and comes with almost no real odor. One LSD paper tab or tablet is good enough to give the user a high.

Whether it is LSD on sugar cubes, the acid in capsules, or acid pills, the substance can be very toxic if used repeatedly and in high doses. The prefrontal cortex, which plays an integral role in regulating emotions, cognition, and reactions, is vulnerable to the effects of acid. LSD binds not only to serotonin receptors but also to dopamine (the primary neurotransmitter for emotional responses) and adrenergic receptors.

While serotonin is the feel-good neurotransmitter, by altering the normal function of the dopamine and adrenergic receptors, acid starts affecting many basic bodily functions ranging from respiratory and circulatory systems to the metabolic rate. 

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Acid Trip: How Long Does Acid Show Up in a Drug Test?

Acid, also known as LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide, is a powerful hallucinogenic drug with unpredictable effects. But how long does LSD stay in your system? How can you know if an upcoming drug test will detect it? Let's explore the science behind acid trips and see how long these psychedelic substances remain detectable in urine tests.

First, it's important to understand that LSD has an incredibly short half-life of just 3-5 hours. This means that after ingesting acid, only about half the amount taken remains in your system within a few hours. However, this doesn't necessarily mean you'll pass a drug test: acid metabolites can be detected for up to five days after ingestion.

Urine tests are the most common type of drug test, and they typically detect LSD in your system for up to seven days after ingestion. Tests that use hair specimens can detect acid and its metabolites for several months. Saliva tests may also be used, but these don't tend to be as reliable when it comes to detecting hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD.

Acid Trip: Is There an Acid Comedown?

When the high of an acid trip begins to wear off, it is called the comedown. The user might not be experiencing hallucinations and strong mood swings by this time. Still, the normal state of mind might not have been restored. After a long trip, most LSD users get dehydrated and physically exhausted. They tend to have elevated heart rates and high perspiration—both are a risk when driving or working with heavy machinery. At this time, the user should abstain from stimulants like caffeine and alcoholic beverages.

Acid Trip: What Is the Afterglow?

A few users have reported feeling a type of afterglow after the crash that is inevitable when using strong drugs that deliver a high. Even though the user may no longer be experiencing hallucinations or mood swings, there can be a sense of unusual optimism and happiness. This is an unusually uplifted state of mind that might sustain for weeks. This can be highlighted as a slightly positive effect of using psychedelics like LSD, and it is referred to as the afterglow. Not every user experiences an afterglow, however

Acid Trip: What Is a Bad Acid Trip Like?

When someone uses acid expecting a feel-good trip but ends up getting a horrible experience that leaves the user agitated and anxious, the acid trip has gone bad. This is when the hallucinations create a state of extreme emotional distress, as extreme as suicidal thoughts or imagining the death of family and friends.

The bad trip is essentially the mental trauma brought about by the acid trip. There is a strong chance of paranoia and developing unfounded hostility.

Getting Help for LSD Abuse

Long-term or repeated LSD usage can make people feel like they’re outside of reality, filled with despair or even paranoia. Considering these challenges, some people might choose to undergo medical detox and LSD treatment. Detoxing from LSD can be done safely with the help of a team of professionals at a professionally managed detox center.

Since LSD has different effects on different people, the detox process needs to be very personalized. Individual sessions, group psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help.

Think the Acid Trip Is Taking Over Your Life? The Edge Treatment Center Will Help

We’ll tell you upfront that the debate over whether acid is addictive or not is still going on. However, it’s possible to develop a dependence on any substance. If you feel like acid trips are making you miss out on life, it’s time for a change.

The Edge Treatment Center provides expert treatment for substance abuse and addiction. Our qualified team of treatment experts can give you the tools and support you need to live a life without LSD. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you free yourself from LSD and other drugs, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today.

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Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

August 25, 2023