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Are LSD Stimulants

Are LSD Stimulants?

Giordano Novak

Giordano Novak

Medically reviewed by Giordano Novak, University of São Paulo on April 3rd 2022

Key Takeaways:

  • LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) is a psychoactive drug made from lysergic acid, which has powerful hallucinogenic properties. 
  • People who take LSD may experience increased heart rate, sweating, and changes in their emotional state.
  • LSD is not considered a stimulant and does not typically produce stimulating effects.
  We often hear about the effects of drugs, but few people know what LSD really is and whether it can be classified as a stimulant. LSD is classed as a hallucinogen rather than a stimulant. It does not work on the same nervous system pathways as other drugs, such as amphetamines or caffeine, which are considered to be stimulants. In this article, we will look at the science behind LSD and explore whether or not it should be considered a stimulant. We will also discuss its potential side effects and how it works in the brain to produce its unique effects. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of what LSD is and why it might not be considered a stimulant.  

Stimulants VS Hallucinogens

Stimulants and hallucinogens are two DISTINCT classes of drugs that have different effects on the human body.  Stimulants are drugs that activate the body’s sympathetic nervous system, increasing alertness and energy levels and heart rate and other physical activities [1]. While hallucinogens, such as LSD, do not directly stimulate the nervous system but cause CHANGES in perception, mood, and thought. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a drug that changes how you think, feel and see things. It does NOT work like stimulants, like caffeine or amphetamine, which make you more alert. When people take LSD, they often see bright colors and can mix up their senses (like seeing sound). The effects of LSD usually start after 30 minutes and last for 8-12 hours [2].  

What Is A Stimulant?

A stimulant is a drug that INCREASES activity in the central nervous system and can create feelings of alertness, energy, focus, and confidence. Stimulants increase the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which are two neurotransmitters ESSENTIAL for proper cognitive functioning.  This can lead to increased concentration, better focus, and improved reaction times. Collin M. Reiff LSD Quote (White) Common stimulants include:
  • caffeine
  • amphetamines
  • cocaine
  • some prescription medications like Adderall

What is Hallucinogenic?

Hallucinogens are drugs that cause hallucinations, which are SENSORY experiences that are distorted or completely different from reality [3]. There are TWO TYPES of hallucinogens: classic and dissociative drugs. Classic hallucinogens, such as LSD and mushrooms, are known for their mind-altering effects and can cause changes in perception, mood, thought processes, and behavior. Dissociative drugs, such as PCP and ketamine, can create a sense of DETACHMENT from reality and cause confusion, amnesia, and even paralysis. Cannabis and ecstasy can also cause MILD hallucinogenic properties and changes in perception, though they are not considered both classic hallucinogens or dissociative. Hallucinogens work by INTERRUPTING the way the brain processes information, resulting in changes to perception and cognition. They can make people see, smell, taste, or hear things that aren’t there. Common hallucinogens include:
  • LSD
  • Cannabis
  • Peyote

What Is LSD?

LSD (D Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) is a synthetic drug derived from the ergot fungus found in rye or wheat.  It is considered to be one of the most POWERFUL hallucinogens and has been used for its psychoactive properties since the 1950s [4]. Often called acid, sugar cubes, dose, or blotter LSD produces a RANGE of effects that can be pleasant or unpleasant depending on the person and their environment. When taken in large doses, LSD affects can produce profound CHANGES in perception, mood, thinking and behavior. It can cause altered states of consciousness, INTENSELY visual and auditory hallucinations, changes in perception of time and space, and increased levels of creativity (classed as a bad trip). According to the National Institute on drug abuse [5], the effects of LSD usually start to appear within 30 minutes and can last up to 12 hours.  

Short-Term Effects of LSD:

  • Altered states of consciousness/altered perceptions
  • Intensely visual and auditory hallucinations
  • LSD affects the perception of time and space
  • Increased creativity, feelings of euphoria, decreased anxiety and depression
  • Nausea, increased heart rate and insomnia or drowsiness 
  • Irregular blood pressure and increased blood pressure
  • Tremors or weakness, sweating or chills, dilated pupils

Long-Term Effects of LSD:

  • Flashbacks—where a person experiences the drug’s effects again after it has worn off 
  • Psychosis—paranoia, delusions, and disorganized thinking lasting for days to months after taking the drug 
  • Depression—which can be long-lasting if someone abuses large doses over prolonged periods of time 
  • Loss of appetite – leading to weight loss may also occur with repeated use
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)—visual hallucinations which interfere with daily life even years after taking illicit drugs.
  Pro Tip: Although LSD is not classed as an additive drug – LSD addiction support resources are available for people who struggle with its use.  


So is LSD a stimulant? The answer is no. While LSD does produce many effects similar to those associated with stimulants, it does not work on the same pathways as stimulants and should not be considered a stimulant. It is important to note that LSD can be dangerous if taken in large doses or misused, so it is essential to take caution when using this drug. Furthermore, it should only be used under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.  


  1. Stimulants – Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Published 2022. Accessed January 15, 2023.
  2. Holland K. How Long Does Acid Last? What to Expect. Healthline. Published May 19, 2022. Accessed January 15, 2023.
  3. 7 Examples of Hallucinogenic Drugs. Verywell Mind. Published 2022. Accessed January 15, 2023.
  4. LSD. Published 2023. Accessed January 15, 2023.
  5. on I. NIDA.NIH.GOV | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published January 25, 2023. Accessed January 15, 2023.
  6. Psychiatry Online. (n.d.). The American Journal of Psychiatry. Available at:

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