The LSD whose generic name is Lysergic Acid Diethylamide is a semi-synthetic drug which is made of lysergic acid. It is a very powerful drug the size of an aspirin that can be diluted in liquid and absorbed into sugar cubes, blotter paper, cookies or candy. Also known as Lysergide or LSD-25, the LSD is among the strongest hallucinogenic drugs whose effects are extreme and disrupt the normal functioning of the user’s brain. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, crystalline substance which is soluble in alcohol and water. It can be painted onto tiny squares of paper that people swallow or lick. Once used, LSD alters one’s distance, sense of space and time as well. Users of these drugs say that they often see sounds and hear colors but its effects are quite unpredictable.
The effects of LSD strongly depend on the mental state of the user as well as circumstances in which it is used. However, this suggests that depending on the circumstances in which LSD is used, the same dose is capable of producing bad and good ‘trips’ in the same user. Use of LSD disrupts the neurotransmitter serotonin and nerve cells interact throughout the spinal cord and the brain. By distracting the normal functioning of the brain, LSD distorts sensation, visual judgment, feelings and moods. Delusions and hallucinations occur in high doses.
LSD acts on the body and the mind of the user in significantly different ways than a lot of drugs. As a hallucinogen, LSD causes users to lose their correct perception of the environment and usual sense of reality. These effects typically start in a span of 30 to 90 minutes of ingestion and take effect for more than twelve hours (Hanson, 2012, p. 116). Often, users refer to the experience of LSD as ‘trips’, while ‘bad trips’ are the acute adverse experiences. However, the changes experienced by users can have a disastrous effect on certain people who are not mentally or emotionally stable enough to manage the shift, depend on the consumption, a person may a ‘trip’ nice experience or a ‘bad trip’.
Notably, LSD affects emotions. More often, users feel high ‘euphoric’ though this feeling can swiftly change to sadness or fear. Usually, users may to some extent feel several emotions at the same time. However, reactions could take place within the first experience and the user could have flashbacks where he or she could experience feelings of an awful trip even with the wearing off of the dose. At this time, the effects of LSD on the users are; misjudgment, misbehavior, lack or control where the users could find themselves in dangerous situations. These changes can quickly become frightening and more often, users could experience the fear of insanity or death if the effect is extreme. Subsequently, users are unable to get a grip on reality and in such situations; it could be extremely serious if an unexpected fatal accident takes place. If taken in large doses, LSD produces visual hallucinations, and delusions. The physical effects include; sweating, dilated pupils, nausea, high body temperature and loss of appetite. Other effects include; increased heart rate, blood sugar, blood pressure, dry mouth, sleeplessness and tremors.
The possible long term effects of LSD are;
- A growing tolerance to the drug which often disappears immediately after the user stops using the drug.
- Prolonged depression and anxiety after use of the drug is stopped.
- Flashbacks can occur which can result to distress, anxiety or disorientation.
- Drug-induced Psychosis for certain users with those without symptoms or history of psychological disorder.
- A distorted ability to think rationally, recognize reality or communicate with others
- Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) this includes visual disturbances such as trails and halos that are attached to seeing false motions in the peripheral vision or false emotions.
For users with psychological problems, use of LSD could result in prolonged psychotic states. However, there are rare cases of visual disturbances such as prolonged after-images. Most of the users experience flashbacks, which often occur suddenly without a warning which could possibly occur in a week or more than one year after LSD use. There are instances when bad trips occur, in such occasions, the drug user may be very traumatized to an extent of being mentally or emotionally impaired from that point onwards. Often persons panicking over the reality or changed perceptions due to use of LSD may become aggressive, paranoid or violent. Such people fear that someone is after their life. Such kind of a bad trip is quite likely to take place of the user consumes the drug excessively. Statistics show that 90% of the people who use LSD have at one time thought they could jump off a tall building safely. Such type of false reality has led to numerous deaths. Quite often, persons who were initially susceptible to psychosis are most likely to have suffered precipitation of that condition which took effect soon after use of the drug.
Other long-term effects of LSD are lack of interest in the future, apathy and frustrations for users. Persons consuming LSD especially in their early stages in life could develop irresponsible habits which could hinder them from solving issues, handling their emotions and being responsible adults. Ostensibly, since LSD accumulates in the body, users seemingly develop a tolerance for the drug.
There is quite a lot of information about LSD but information on how dangerous it is, is not widely used. LSD reports and statistics say that approximately 200,500 persons use LSD every year as their first time. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (SDUH) shows that indeed 9.7% of the population above 12 years has used LSD in a life time. Notably, this shows that there is still quite a significant amount of LSD use and abuse in the U.S. However, abuse of LSD has been on the decline since 2002. Students in high school report seemingly low use of LSD with only 3.5% of seniors in these high schools report using LSD. However, for 8th and 10th graders, the number goes down to 1.9% and 2.6% respectively. This is an indication that LSD is not widely available like other drugs or it is considered a dangerous drug by teenagers (Kaplan, 2007, p. 215).
The rate of LSD abuse among persons of 18 to 25 years is a little higher. Reports by NSDUH indicate that 12.3% of youths of ages 18 to 25 have at one time tried LSD in their lifetime. Today, LSD facts show that the use of LSD is on the decline in all age groups; at least in the short term. These statistics do agree that LSD is not regularly used and most of its abusers try it through experimentation. LSD statistic abuse indicates that LSD is a non-addictive drug which has extremely low toxicity relative to dose and it is not known to cause brain damage although there are rare cases when delusions and anxiety were caused by adverse psychiatric reactions. In 2009, its abuse was found to be on the rise with 779,000 Americans aged 13 and older had at least once in the year prior to being surveyed abused LSD. In 2010, studies show that 1.3% of 8th graders, 1.8% of 10th graders and 2.7% of 12th graders had abused LSD at least once before the survey was done.
An annual survey of regular users who have been affected by LSD this year found that 47% had also taken the drug in the past 1 year. Notably, this number is patently higher than that of 2012 when it was at 38%. However, studies done by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in the University of Ohio showed that in there was a significant increase LSD users in the U.S in general. The number of Americans aged above 15 who have tried LSD stands today at 8.9% a report by the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. The illicit drug has increased in popularity in the U.S recently. Recent reports by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre show that among LSD abusers, 72% have experience its short-term and long-term effects. Notably, 90% of the abusers in this report said to have felt high ‘euphoric’, though which swiftly changed to sadness and fear. 65% of these users had emotional experiences (Barceloux, 2012, p. 78). However, its reaction took place within the first experience and the users reported to have had flashbacks, misjudgments, misbehavior and lack of control where some were found in dangerous situations.
Barceloux, D. G. (2012). Medical toxicology of drug abuse: Synthesized chemicals and psychoactive plants. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.
Hanson, G., Venturelli, P. J., & Fleckenstein, A. E. (2012). Drugs and society. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Kaplan, H. I., Sadock, B. J., & Sadock, V. A. (2007). Kaplan and Sadock's synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences, clinical psychiatry. Baltimore [etc: Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.