Mixing LSD & Alcohol: Effects, Dangers, and Treatment
LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide) is a mind-altering hallucinogen that can profoundly alter a person’s mood, perception, and awareness of the world around them.1 Though their precise mechanism of action isn’t fully understood, many classic hallucinogens such as LSD are thought to disrupt certain types of brain communication through their influence on serotonin neurotransmission.1
Some people who use LSD drink alcohol, a central nervous system depressant, at the same time. Separately, LSD and alcohol have several adverse effects; together, the interaction between the substances is potentially unpredictable.2
Why People Mix LSD and Alcohol
Polysubstance use (also referred to as concurrent substance use, co-occurring substance use, simultaneous substance use, and polydrug use) refers to when 2 or more drugs are used simultaneously, either intentionally or unintentionally.2, 3
People may use LSD and alcohol together for various reasons, such as to combat or enhance the effects of 1 or both substances and to escape from stress.3, 4 Often, polysubstance use such as this takes place merely because a person wants to experience the novel effects of the particular substance combination.2
The Short and Long-Term Effects of LSD and Alcohol
A hallmark effect of LSD is hallucinations, which involve a person feeling sensations, hearing sounds, and seeing images that do not exist.1 The effects of the drug are typically felt between 20-90 minutes after someone takes LSD and can last up to 12 hours.1 People who use hallucinogens often refer to the experiences brought on by LSD and other drugs as “trips.”1
In addition to hallucinations, LSD and other classic hallucinogens may have other short-term effects including:1
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased breathing and heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Decreased coordination
- Altered sense of time.
- Sensory distortions (such as seeing brighter colors than normal)
- Spiritual experiences
- Bizarre behavior
- Temporary psychotic features, such as paranoid delusions
Alcohol is a commonly used intoxicating substance that has a variety of potential short- and long-term effects. The short-term effects of alcohol vary depending on several factors including a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), alcohol tolerance, gender, weight, and more.5, 6
The short-term effects of alcohol can differ as a person’s BAC rises and may include:5, 6
- Feelings of relaxation
- Slurred speech
- Impaired balance, coordination, and motor skills
- Increased risk of injury (e.g., from a car accident or fall)
- Poor judgment
- Increased risk of dangerous behaviors (e.g., driving while intoxicated and unprotected sex)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Memory blackouts
- Decreased levels of alertness
- Loss of consciousness
Research on the long-term effects of LSD is limited. However, while rare, hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) and persistent psychosis have been associated with the use of certain hallucinogens.1 A person with a history of mental illness may be more likely to develop HPPD or persistent psychosis, although they can occur in anyone, even if a person uses LSD or another hallucinogen just once, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.1
Alcohol can lead to the development of several serious long-term health issues including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, mental health conditions including anxiety and depression, and an increased risk of developing various cancers.7
Dangers of Mixing LSD and Alcohol
Separately, LSD and alcohol can have several adverse effects. When 2 substances are used together, the combined effects can be dangerous and unpredictable.2 For example, LSD could alter the perceived effects of alcohol, making a person more likely to drink heavily and ultimately increasing a person’s risk of dangerous levels of alcohol intoxication or alcohol overdose, which can be fatal.1, 8
LSD, Alcohol, and Addiction
Though its use can become problematic for some people, LSD is not considered addictive in the same way that some other substances, such as opioids, are. With LSD use, people do not typically develop the compulsive, drug-seeking behaviors that characterize addiction.1
Unlike LSD, chronic use of alcohol can lead to addiction, a condition commonly diagnosed as an alcohol use disorder (AUD). An AUD is a chronic but treatable medical condition characterized by ongoing, compulsive drinking despite alcohol’s negative consequences.11, 12 If someone is struggling with alcohol use, professional alcohol addiction treatment can help.
Mixing substances like LSD and alcohol is never safe because the effects of combining drugs can be wildly unpredictable and could even increase the likelihood of certain life-threatening situations.2
If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance misuse, help may be available at a rehab center near you or out of state. You can learn more about treatment options by contacting your primary care physician (PHP) or a mental health practitioner.
You can also contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) when you call . AAC has treatment facilities across the U.S. and is a leading provider of evidence-based addiction treatment. Our admissions navigators can answer questions you may have about treatment options, verify your insurance, and help you with the admissions process once you’re ready.
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