Also known as: Acid, Boomers, Doses, Dots, Hits, Microdots, Sugar Cubes, Tabs,Trips, Window Pane, Yellow Sunshine
LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) is a highly potent mood-changing chemical. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.
LSD is sold in tablets, capsules, ad occasionally, liquid form. LSD is also added to absorbent paper, which is then divided into decorated pieces, each equivalent to one dose. An LSD high — often referred to as “trips” last for up to 12 hours.
In 2013, more than 24.8 million people aged 12 or older reported they had used LSD in their lifetime (9.4 percent) according to NSDUH. More than 1.1 million people had used the drug in the past year. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of past-year initiates of LSD increased only slightly.
The Effect of LSD on the Brain
LSD causes hallucinations, which are profound distortions in a person’s perception of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but are not. Some hallucinogens also produce rapid, intense emotional swings. The effects of LSD are caused by initially disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. Distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord, the serotonin system is involved in the control of behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory systems, including mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, muscle control, and sensory perception.
Sensations and feelings change much more dramatically than the physical signs in people under the influence of LSD. The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in large enough doses, LSD produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The user’s sense of time and self is altered. Experiences may seem to “cross over” different senses, giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings of despair, fear of losing control, or fear of insanity and death while using LSD.
LSD users can also experience flashbacks, or recurrences of certain aspects of the drug experience. Flashbacks occur suddenly, often without warning, and may do so within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. In some individuals, the flashbacks can persist and cause significant distress or impairment in social or occupational functioning, a condition known as hallucinogen-induced persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD).
Most users of LSD voluntarily decrease or stop its use over time. LSD is not considered an addictive drug since it does not produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior. However, LSD does produce tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take progressively higher doses to achieve the state of intoxication that they had previously achieved. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug. In addition, cross-tolerance between LSD and other hallucinogens has been reported.
The Effects of LSD on the Health of the User
Unpleasant adverse effects as a result of the use of hallucinogens are not uncommon. These may be due to the large number of psychoactive ingredients in any single source of hallucinogen. The effects of LSD depend largely on the amount taken. LSD’s effects include:
- dilated pupils
- increased body temperature
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
- profuse sweating
- loss of appetite
- dry mouth