LSD, or acid, is a manmade psychedelic that creates powerful auditory and visual hallucinations. Because it has low toxicity and doesn’t invoke the same addictive qualities as other mainstream drugs, its use as a recreational drug has been increasing in popularity. However, it has a significant half-life, meaning it stays in your system for quite some time. And as with most drugs, it can be detected in your system for days and weeks beyond your last use. So how long does LSD stay in your system?

bottom half of a person's face, painted multiple colors, with their tongue sticking out and an acid tab on the tip of their tongue.

How Long LSD Stays in Your System is Dependent on Several Factors

What is Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)?

Lysergic acid diethylamide, known commonly as LSD or acid, is a synthetic psychedelic that enhances emotion and mood and changes one’s perception of time and space. It was first created in 1938 by Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, and was studied for decades before being banned.

Psychiatrists once used LSD as a treatment option in psychosomatic and behavioral therapies to help people overcome depression and anxiety. On the other hand, the CIA used LSD in the 50s and 60s in mind-control experiments, and as a psychological weapon during the Cold War.

Grouped with other psychedelics like ketamine, MDMA, DMT, and Psylocibin, LSD is known as one of the most potent mind-altering dissociative drugs on today’s substance abuse market. Today, LSD use has little to do with professional medical use and is primarily used recreationally.

Typically taken orally, LSD comes in the form of tabs, pellets (microdots), or liquid. In liquid form it can be applied to the tongue or dropped onto food or drinks; intravenous injection is rare. When taken by mouth, it is absorbed by the gastrointestinal system, travels into the bloodstream, and then into the brain and other organs.

Therapeutic Potential

Considered a dissociative drug,  LSD is potent and can have serious side effects. But its potential for treating mood disorders has re-gained popularity over the last decade. Though it is considered a Schedule I drug by the FDA, private companies continue to study LSD and have begun pre-clinical and clinical trials for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Cluster headaches
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • ADHD
bright colored swirls and dots.

Acid Can Be a Harmful and Addictive Distortionary Drug

Is LSD an Addictive Substance?

We know that LSD interacts with serotonin receptors on the surface of the brain. We even found the particular receptor that it acts through. But specifics on how and why LSD works the way it does within our brain continue to be a mystery.

Nonetheless, it is known that LSD is not considered an addictive substance. Yet, it can cause psychological dependence.

People can become addicted to the sights and feelings they experience when on an acid trip. Moreover, LSD does produce tolerance so as individuals use it more frequently, they need more of the substance to achieve the same effects. Unfortunately, acid is an unpredictable substance and one never really knows if they’ll be experiencing a “good LSD trip” or a “bad trip.”

Withdrawal Symptoms

Fortunately, most individuals who stop LSD will not experience any physical withdrawal symptoms. However, psychological symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • psychosis
  • and suicidal thoughts

Though acid itself is not addictive, many individuals who abuse psychedelics are also struggling with a mental health disorder, other drug addictions, and alcohol abuse, all of which can exacerbate psychological dependence and symptoms of withdrawal.

girl standing and screaming in a red-tone light.

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and Other Drugs are Worsening American Mental Health Disorders

Is Taking LSD Considered Drug Abuse?

So if LSD is not really an addictive substance, is taking it considered drug abuse?

The short answer? Yes, taking LSD is considered substance abuse.

Initially developed and studied to evaluate personality and behavioral changes, LSD has no medical use today. Due to this fact along with its wide range of potent, hallucinogenic side effects, it was banned and deemed a Schedule I drug for its high potential for misuse. As such, when it comes to taking acid, it is always considered substance abuse.

Still, the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported over 372,000 habitual hallucinogen users in 2020 alone.

How Long Does Acid Stay in Your System: Influencing Factors

Like other drugs, LSD can stay in your system actively anywhere from a few hours after use to a few days.

The duration of acid’s effects depends on several factors, including:

  • The LSD dosage used
  • How often a person takes acid
  • Past and/or concurrent drug use
  • The individual’s age
  • Their individual body composition and body fat index
  • And, their overall physical and mental health.

Depending on the size and form of the dose taken, acid’s effects can begin as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion, with peak effects occurring within about an hour, and lasting up to 9 to 12 hours. However, individuals who engage in frequent LSD use or partake in micro-dosing can feel the effects of the drug in their system for much longer.

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Can a Drug Test Detect LSD?

Today, drug tests for detecting past drug use are no new concept. However, LSD, mushrooms, synthetic cannabinoids, and ecstasy are not detectable by typical drug tests. Drugs like LSD are more difficult to detect because people typically ingest small amounts and it’s quickly broken down in the liver.

As the need for reliable and efficient testing methods becomes more pronounced, manufacturers have had to adapt to growing demands. Employers, medical professionals, and those in the justice system can utilize a variety of tests like urine tests, hair tests, and blood tests to detect LSD in a person’s system.

How long LSD can be detected depends on the type of test used, the type of sample fluid, the amount of LSD ingested, and the individual themself.

But yes, today a drug test can detect LSD in a person’s system. And there are a few ways in which this test can be conducted.

LSD/Acid Testing Methods

Even though LSD detection tests need to be done using specialty methods, they are remarkably accurate at detecting the drug and determining how long it has been in an individual’s system. However, different types of tests have varying detection windows and their own pros and cons.

Every drug test is different. And thus, each drug testing sample will be able to identify different results to help clinicians and other medical professionals determine how long LSD has been in a person’s system.

Some of the most standard testing methods include the following:

Due to the variety of influencing elements, the information below is not definitive and is based on reported averages.

SJRP chart showing how long LSD is detectable on common drug tests.

How Long Does LSD Stay Detectable on a Drug Test

Blood Testing

Depending on how much LSD was consumed, it can remain detectable in blood for up to 16 hours. Even though blood samples are good for detecting LSD use quickly, they have a short detection window, require trained personnel to administer, are invasive and more expensive.

As a result, blood testing is used more often in emergency situations, but it’s not the most common form of LSD drug test an individual may encounter.

Urine Testing

Today, most drug screenings are done on urine samples. But when a person takes LSD orally, the human liver quickly transforms it into inactive compounds leaving only about 1% of it excreted through urine. Unless administered within 4 hours after use, a routine urine test does not detect LSD.

However, specialized processes such as liquid-liquid extraction are used for detecting LSD in urine. Though not as readily available, these types of urine tests can detect LSD 1.5-5 days after use.

Hair Testing

LSD metabolites can remain in a hair sample from 30 to 90 days after an individual’s last use. Though hair samples are easiest to collect, hair testing is costly and results can be difficult to interpret and biased by hair color and contamination of environmental factors.

As a result, hair samples are not often used in LSD drug screenings.

Saliva Testing

Though saliva testing can easily be used for screening common drugs, it is not used for LSD detection. Because LSD is taken in small doses and quickly metabolizes in our system, specialty screening methods are required and saliva testing is not a viable option.

Sweat Testing

Sweat tests, commonly used in drug-related court cases, are less common but actually very effective and economical. Sweat patches are worn on the skin and can detect LSD use within 14 days.

Compared to routine urine testing, which can only detect metabolites, sweat patches detect metabolites and the parent drug, making them far more effective at detecting drugs like LSD.

Seeking Addiction Treatment at St. John’s Recovery Place

Though it may not be considered “addictive” per see, LSD use is commonly found concurring with other addictions and mental health issues. The best way to stop using LSD is with professional help guiding you on the path toward healing.

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Substance Abuse Freedom is Possible with Quality Addiction Treatment

Addiction affects millions of Americans each year. But with the help of SJRP, seeking treatment and healing has never been so accessible. Here at St. John’s, we utilize traditional and innovative treatment practices to make the most holistic healing experience possible. As a result, we help people like you heal in mind, body, and spirit.

If you or a loved one struggles with substance use disorders or addiction, St. John’s Recovery Place (SJRP) can help! Call today at 833-397-3422 to find out more about your treatment options.