Psychedelic drugs have remained popular in the United States since first achieving widespread recognition in the 1960’s with the counterculture movement. In 2017, for example, hallucinogens as a class were reported the third most common drugs used by those aged 12 and older- surpassed by only marijuana and alcohol (1).
The idea that hallucinogens such as LSD can actually cause mental illnesses has long been debated. Here we take a look at the relationship between LSD and schizophrenia.
What is LSD?
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), commonly referred to as acid, was one of the first psychedelic drugs to be commonly used.
LSD causes the user to have strong alterations in perception, including thoughts, vision, and hearing. LSD is typically taken orally, in the form of blotter tabs or drops.
The effects typically last around 12-hours, and can be quite intense. (2)
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that causes drastic changes in how an individual thinks, feels, and behaves. Schizophrenia is a chronic illness. Overall, schizophrenia causes the individual to lose touch with reality. Schizophrenia typically develops between the ages of 16 and 30 years of age.
The following signs and symptoms are common with schizophrenia (3):
- Dysfunctional thoughts
- Reduced expression of emotions
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Difficulty in day-to-day tasks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Working memory deficiencies
What is the connection between LSD and Schizophrenia?
Researchers have noted that the symptoms of someone who has ingested LSD are remarkably similar to the symptoms of someone suffering from schizophrenia. One study noted, “LSD-induced psychosis could not be significantly differentiated from control schizophrenics”. (4)
So does this mean LSD can cause schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is likely caused by a genetic predisposition, rather than from drug intake. While LSD may not directly cause schizophrenia, it should be noted that that does not mean it will not cause mental health issues.
One study found that use of psychedelic drugs was directly correlated with an increased risk of mental health issues. The study determined that subjects had three times higher odds of being admitted to a mental health hospital than those who had not abused psychedelic drugs. (5)
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