Six Reasons LSD Causes Depersonalization
....and the ONE reason you can recover
While weed is the drug most commonly associated with triggering depersonalization disorder, LSD is a close second.
Relative to weed, acid is a much less used drug. But I regularly hear of and from people who have developed DP from just one bad LSD trip. It can be a really scary experience, and because of the intensely psychedelic and often introspective nature of the drug, it can cause people to believe that they’ve really messed up their minds, maybe permanently.
But in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
There has been no permanent damage, and I’m about to explain why.
But first, let’s look at WHY LSD causes depersonalization.
Drugs like hash, ketamine etc are very obviously dependent on the physically amount that you’ve ingested. Acid can be more of a lottery in terms of blotter strength, especially if you’re not 100% sure of the source. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of coming up hard on acid, and not knowing when it’s going to stop intensifying.
Especially for people who might not have a lot of experience in using psychedelics, it can be a really frightening experience.
2.The Type of Tripping
As Terence McKenna said about Ketamine -- “The first thing that happens on Ketamine is you cease to be concerned that you’ve done Ketamine.” Acid is different -- you are very much aware that you’ve taken a drug, that it’s affecting you in various ways. This can be wonderful and euphoric -- but if it goes badly, it can be incredibly intense and brutally introspective.
Again, for people experienced with psychedelic drugs, they can rely on their past experience, recognize the patterns of thought and remember that they are safe and the effects of the drug will inevitably pass. There’s a phrase in psychedelia -- ‘The only way out is through’ -- that is to say that no matter how hard you want it to stop, there is no stopping it. Fighting against it can be frightening and even traumatic.
With weed, the peak high can last for 20-30 minutes so even with a bad experience at least you know that you’ll soon be down. With LSD, it can last 10-12 hours, so a bad trip can be a bit of a marathon. This can be a very scary prospect, especially if the trip starts to go bad in the first hour or two. The more experienced user will know that panicking will only make things worse, and that ‘the only way out is through’. But others will find themselves fighting hard against the mental effects of the drug, trying to hold on to reality and rational thought through waves of psychedelia. This can of course cause all sorts of trauma and irrational fears, like that of going mad, loss of reality etc.
4. It’s Already a Dissociative Drug
One of the typical effects of LSD are feelings of unreality and distance from your body. Normally this is quite a pleasant experience and passes naturally as the drug leaves your system. But if you’re suffering through a bad trip, you may feel that this is some sort of permanent and frightening dissociation. This, combined with the anxiety-based feeling of DP can create a negative thought spiral that can persist and make you feel -- incorrectly -- that you’re still tripping even after the drug has left your system.
5. Lack of Sleep
Since acid lasts 12 hours or more and people usually take it in the evening / nighttime, it can really disrupt your normal sleeping patterns and intensity feelings of DP. Think of it this way: If you stayed up all night without having taken any drugs (like with jetlag) you’d feel quite woozy and out of it for the entire day, and probably even for a few days afterwards too. Right? Now, couple that with the mental and physical exhaustion of an intense (and possibly bad) trip and you can see why feelings of depersonalization can take hold.
6. Fear That It Won't Stop
It’s an incredibly common worry with acid, especially when you’re coming down slowly: that for some reason you won’t be able to stop tripping, ever, and you’ll be stuck like this (and end up in a padded room somewhere for the rest of your life). Of course, that’s impossible -- LSD, just like any drug, is just a temporary chemical in your system and it will dissipate. It's a scientific certainty!
Because of the above reasons, feelings of depersonalization which occur naturally with LSD can persist after a bad trip because they turn into anxiety-based depersonalization (an extremely common but typically very brief experience).
In the same way with any traumatic experience (a car crash, loss of a loved one etc), depersonalization can kick in as a temporary defence mechanism to get you through the bad trip. But when the feeling itself is focused upon (fear of going crazy, tripping forever etc) it can turn into a thought loop, driven by anxiety, that can persist for days, weeks and months after the drug experience.
This is known as Depersonalization Disorder and when left untreated, can persist for days, weeks, months, and as it did for me, years.
The good news is that it only lasts that long when it’s not addressed properly, but when you do so you can recover from it completely.
For now, if you’ve developed DP from LSD (or any other drug) -- the main thing to remember is that it’s NOT the drug that’s causing the feeling anymore.
That’s physiologically impossible -- once the drug is gone from your system, it’s gone. And no, there hasn’t been any switch flipped in your brain where you’re now stuck like this indefinitely.
I know it can feel physical and tangible but the reality is it’s nothing more than a negative thought habit that’s driven by anxiety.
When you take all of the above into account, including the intensely psychological and self-reflexive nature of the drug, you can see why people are so quick to jump to frightening conclusions.
But the bottom line is that the drug itself didn’t cause you to develop anxiety or DP -- what caused it was your reaction to the drug.
In the exact same way that if you’d developed DP from any traumatic experience; a house fire, a car crash etc.
It wasn’t the event that caused it -- it was your reaction to it, which is essentially a defence mechanism of the brain that’s designed to last only minutes, but when focused on can become a persistent thought-habit.
The fact that it’s been triggered by LSD (or any other drug) makes no difference.
The fact that it's such an inward-focused and psychedelic event can make it seems like an intensely scary experience, but really what you’re feeling is no different from people who have developed DP from panic attacks, car crashes etc.
It’s the trauma that caused it, not the drug.
Understanding that is the first and most important step towards recovery from drug-induced Depersonalization.
Once you’ve done that you can quickly overwrite the negative thought habits, turn off the anxiety and DP -- and move towards full recovery.