Description

Lysergic acid diethylamide

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LSD is commonly used as a recreational drug

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as acid, is a hallucinogenic drug. Effects typically include altered thoughts, feelings, and awareness of one’s surroundings. Many users see or hear things that do not exist. Dilated pupils, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature are typical. Effects typically begin within half an hour and can last for up to 12 hours. It is used mainly as a recreational drug and for spiritual reasons.

LSD does not appear to be addictive, although tolerance may occur with use of increasing doses. Adverse psychiatric reactions are possible, such as anxiety, paranoia, and delusions. Distressing flashbacks might occur in spite of no further use, a condition called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder. Death is very rare as a result of LSD, though it occasionally occurs in accidents. The effects of LSD are believed to occur as a result of alterations in the serotonin system. As little as 20 micrograms can produce an effect. In pure form, LSD is clear or white in color, has no smell, and is crystalline. It breaks down with exposure to ultraviolet light.

About 10 percent of people in the United States have used LSD at some point in their lives as of 2017, while 0.7 percent have used it in the last year. It was most popular in the 1960s to 1980s. LSD is typically either swallowed or held under the tongue. It is most often sold on blotter paper and less commonly as tablets or in gelatin squares. There is no known treatment for addiction, if it occurs.

LSD was first made by Albert Hofmann in 1938 from lysergic acid, a chemical from the fungus ergot. Hofmann discovered its hallucinogenic properties in 1943. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) believed that the drug might be useful for mind control, so they tested it on people, some without their knowledge, in a program called MKUltra. LSD was sold as a medication for research purposes under the trade-name Delysid in the 1950s and 1960s. It was listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance by the United Nations in 1971

Spiritual

LSD is considered an entheogen because it can catalyze intense spiritual experiences, during which users may feel they have come into contact with a greater spiritual or cosmic order. Users sometimes report out of body experiences. In 1966, Timothy Leary established the League for Spiritual Discovery with LSD as its sacrament. Stanislav Grof has written that religious and mystical experiences observed during LSD sessions appear to be phenomenologically indistinguishable from similar descriptions in the sacred scriptures of the great religions of the world and the texts of ancient civilizations.

Medical

See also: Lysergic acid diethylamide & Research

LSD currently has no approved uses in medicine. A meta-analysis concluded that a single dose was effective at reducing alcohol consumption in alcoholism. LSD has also been studied in depression, anxiety, and drug dependence, with positive preliminary results.

Effects

Physical

LSD can cause pupil dilation, reduced appetite, and wakefulness. Other physical reactions to LSD are highly variable and nonspecific, some of which may be secondary to the psychological effects of LSD. Among the reported symptoms are numbness, weakness, nausea, hypothermia or hyperthermia, elevated blood sugar, goose bumps, heart rate increase, jaw clenching, perspiration, saliva production, mucus production, hyperreflexia, and tremors.

Psychological

The most common immediate psychological effects of LSD are visual hallucinations and illusions (colloquially known as “trips”), which can vary greatly depending on how much is used and how the brain responds. Trips usually start within 20–30 minutes of taking LSD by mouth (less if snorted or taken intravenously), peak three to four hours after ingestion, and last up to 12 hours. Negative experiences, referred to as “bad trips”, produce intense negative emotions, such as irrational fears and anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, rapid mood swings, intrusive thoughts of hopelessness, wanting to harm others, and suicidal ideation. It is impossible to predict when a bad trip will occur. Good trips are stimulating and pleasurable, and typically involve feeling as if one is floating, disconnected from reality, feelings of joy or euphoria (sometimes called a “rush”), decreased inhibitions, and the belief that one has extreme mental clarity or superpowers.