D-lysergic acid diethylamide, known as LSD or acid, is one of a diverse class of drugs known as hallucinogens, which alter perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. LSD is the most widely used hallucinogen, and one of the most powerful drugs in this class. Lysergic acid occurs naturally in a fungus that grows on rye and other grains, and is processed into LSD in clandestine chemistry labs across the United States. At one time legal for medical and psychiatric use, it was previously employed by the Central Intelligence Agency as a form of mind control.
Acid is a white or colorless, odorless crystal with a bitter taste that can be converted to tablet or liquid form. It is frequently manufactured in sheets of colorfully imprinted, drug-soaked absorbent paper, known as blotter acid, or in gelatin squares, called windowpane, both of which are dissolved on the tongue.
LSD use peaked in the 1960s and ’70s, declined in the ’80s, increased again in the 1990s, and has remained relatively level since the early 2000s.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 1.3 million Americans used hallucinogens, including LSD, in 2013 when this survey was conducted.Tweet this out
LSD is not an addictive drug in the strict sense of the word. It does not produce withdrawal symptoms and does not cause obsessive drug-seeking behavior in the user, as many other substances do; however, LSD is known to cause increased tolerance. With repeated use of LSD, users may require larger doses to produce the same effect, which can prove extremely dangerous due to the unpredictable nature of the drug. LSD also produces a tolerance to other hallucinogenic drugs, such as psilocybin.
Along with hallucinations, common effects of LSD include nausea, decreased appetite, increased heart rate, goose bumps, dilated pupils, and tremors. While physical overdose is rare or non-existent, the mental, emotional, and behavioral effects of LSD can be devastating.
Like other psychedelic drugs, LSD profoundly alters the perception of reality, causing extreme distortions of the user’s sensations. These auditory, visual, tactile, spatial, and mental distortions seem real – sometimes terrifyingly so, an experience known as a bad trip. A bad LSD trip can result in persistent psychosis, which is characterized by rapid mood swings, paranoia, panic attacks, visual disturbances, and disorganized thinking.
A typical acid trip lasts about 12 hours, and can produce flashbacks, in which the user re-experiences hallucinations. Flashbacks can occur days, weeks or months afterward, and sometimes more than a year later. Because flashbacks occur without warning, they can cause great distress. In some cases, flashbacks can be persistent and disruptive, a condition called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).