Lysergic Acid Diathylamide (LSD) is a psychoactive hallucinogenic drug. It comes in a variety of forms, but is most commonly sold in the form of blotter paper, which is small paper squares that has been dipped in LSD.
The drug also can be found in several others forms — including a powder or crystal, liquid, gelatin squares, laced on a sugar cube and capsules, or as a small pill (not common but out there). LSD can also be rubbed against the skin. LSD has been available (at first legally), then on the illicit market for over 40 years.
LSD is sold under more than 80 street names including: acid, blotter, cid, doses, and trips, as well as names that reflect the designs on sheets of blotter paper.
Dosages of LSD are measured in micrograms, or millionths of a gram. By comparison, dosages of cocaine and heroin are measured in milligrams, or thousandths of a gram. Compared to other hallucinogenic substances, LSD is 100 times more potent than psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) and 4,000 times more potent than mescaline. The dosage level that will produce an hallucinogenic effect in humans generally is considered to be 25 micrograms. Over the past several years, the potency of LSD obtained during drug law enforcement operations has ranged between 20 and 80 micrograms per dosage unit. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recognizes 50 micrograms as the standard dosage unit equivalency.
LSD is a product of professional chemists. The primary chemical involved, Lysergic Acid, is illegal, so it requires a professional to derive the compound and to turn it into LSD.
D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD’s other name) is the most potent hallucinogenic substance, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It became available on the streets in the 1960s, but was soon outlawed. With LSD tablets, it is difficult to tell how much LSD is actually in the blotter. Tabs are often dipped in another chemical agent in order to bind the LSD to the paper. The binding chemical agents can often cause side effects, such as grinding of the jaw and restlessness. Liquid acid is ingested per drop. It is generally much stronger (containing 200 to 400 micrograms per drop). Many users prefer liquid acid to tabs because no chemical binding agents are needed. Therefore, the “trip” seems smoother.
A Short History of LSD
LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by a chemist working for Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland. His name was Dr. Albert Hofmann. There is a ‘foundation’ named after him and many websites are dedicated to him for inventing this drug, just an FYI.
LSD was initially developed as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant. However, no real benefits of the compound were identified and its study was discontinued. In the 1940’s, interest in the drug was revived when it was thought to be a possible treatment for schizophrenia. Because of LSD’s structural relationship to a chemical that is present in the brain and its similarity in effect to certain aspects of psychosis, LSD was used as a research tool in studies of mental illness.
Sandoz Laboratories, the drug’s sole producer, began marketing LSD in 1947 under the trade name “Delysid” and it was introduced into the United States a year later. Sandoz marketed LSD as a psychiatric cure-all and hailed it as a cure for everything from schizophrenia to criminal behavior, sexual perversions and alcoholism. AND Sandoz, in its LSD related literature suggested that psychiatrists take the drug themselves in order to “gain an understanding of the subjective experiences of the schizophrenic.” During a 15 year period beginning in 1950, research on LSD and other hallucinogens generated over 1,000 scientific papers, several dozen books, and 6 international conferences, and LSD was prescribed as treatment to over 40,000 patients. Although initial observations on the benefits of LSD were highly optimistic, empirical data developed subsequently proved much less promising.
The late Timothy Leary gave LSD its fame after being kicked out from Harvard University for using students and other volunteers to study the effects of LSD on the brain. He later became an advocate of the drug, promoting its “mind expanding qualities.” LSD as a cultural phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s has been a subject for much literature, such as Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”.
During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the drug culture adopted LSD as the “psychedelic” drug of choice. The infatuation with LSD lasted for a number of years until considerable negative publicity emerged on “bad trips” — psychotic psychological traumas associated with the LSD high — and “flashbacks”, uncontrollable recurring experiences. As a result of these revelations and effective drug law enforcement efforts, LSD dramatically decreased in popularity in the mid-1970’s. Scientific study of LSD ceased around 1980 as research funding declined.
LSD has remained popular with high school and college students and other young adults. It is inexpensive and easy for teens and young adults to obtain and it has recently made a bit of a comeback to the drug scene.
LSD’s use in scientific research has been extensive and its use has been widespread. Although the study of LSD and other hallucinogens increased the awareness of how chemicals could affect the mind, its use in psychotherapy largely has been debunked. It produces no aphrodisiac effects, does not increase creativity, has no lasting positive effect in treating alcoholics or criminals, does not produce a model “psychosis” and does not generate immediate personality change. However, drug studies have confirmed that the powerful hallucinogenic effects of this drug can produce profound adverse reactions, such as acute panic reactions, psychotic crises, and flashbacks.
What is “Tripping” Like?
LSD has gotten the reputation for being a mind-expanding drug. Many users claim that after using LSD, their life has changed. Users in the first hour of “tripping” feel anxious, a little tingly and colors may seem brighter. After the first three hours, the peak begins.
Users have extreme visual hallucinations. Some report that everything seems like it is in motion, and colors are vivid. Users sometimes see things that are not there. Mental changes are the most intense. Users often experience extreme mental stages, going from periods of giddiness, to extreme insight. Users often may have conversations that do not make a whole lot of sense to an outside observer. They also show extreme paranoia, especially when put in a situation with people who are not tripping.
Once a user develops an idea in his or her head, it is hard for them to let it go, particularly if it deals with fear or a problem he or she has been agonizing over. The mind becomes extremely sensitive to its surroundings, and any change or disruption can extremely upset a user. When this happens, it is called a “bad trip”. Never leave someone alone who is having a “bad trip”, stay with them, keep them calm, talk to them. (This has worked from my own personal experience years ago and although it was a long night, the trip did end in the morning).
A “Bad Trip”
It is extremely difficult to talk someone out of a bad trip!
The thoughts and fears of someone on a bad trip may make no sense to others, but make perfect sense to them. A bad trip can cause a user to react so violently that he hurts himself or other people. People have been known to run away, jump out of windows and do other crazy things when they are having a bad trip. This is one of the main reasons why LSD is illegal. (Of course, politics play a huge role in deciding what is legal and what is not, it is not always due to a drug’s hazards). There is much debate from LSD users as to why it became illegal.
Unlike the other drugs mentioned in this section, it is not what LSD does to a user physically that is more of a concern, it’s how it affects them mentally. There is a reason using LSD is called “tripping”. Do not expect to do anything other than just that when using it. A user will be surprised at how difficult and confusing using a phone or dealing with authority is. Do not drive or operate any sort of machinery. It is a good idea to have at least one sober “babysitter” or designated sober person there to take care of a user just in case. People with histories of psychoses such as schizophrenia in the family should avoid using LSD, as it can bring out latent tendencies towards schizophrenia. (We are not suggesting that you use LSD, but informing you on how it could be used more safely). Continuous use of LSD can trigger mental and social problems as a result of difficulty facing reality.