Psychedelics or hallucinogens are a variety of psychoactive substances that cause changes in mood and perception, and may significantly alter cognitive processes. These elements distort an individual’s sense of time and reality, and may also lead to both visual and auditory hallucinations. Today we’ll be talking about one such psychedelic drug that has been around for quite some time; LSD, and what it does to the mind and body.
Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD for short, is a synthetic substance made using lysergic acid found in ergot, a fungus that infects rye. LSD goes by many names, such as Acid, Tabs, Trips, Dots, Microdots, and Lucy. First synthesized in 1938, LSD is regarded as one of the most powerful moods-altering chemicals. Produced illegally in crystal form mainly in the US, the latter was then converted into liquids and sold as an odorless, colorless, and bitter-tasting hallucinogen.
On the streets, LSD may be sold in various forms; small tablets are known as ‘microdots’, gelatin squares called ‘window panes’, and also capsules. Sometimes, LSD is added onto absorbent paper (blotter paper) which is divided into evenly-cut pieces and often decorated with cartoons. Depending on the form, the drug can be swallowed, dissolved under the drug, sniffed, smoked, or even injected. An effective dose of pure LSD is extremely potent and so small, it is practically invisible. Hence it might usually be diluted with other substances, some of which may be more dangerous than the drug itself.
LSD users experience what is called a ‘trip’ or ‘acid trip’ on consuming the drug which generally lasts for about twelve hours. If the after-effects are particularly frightening, users term the horrific hallucinations as a ‘bad trip’.
Most individuals, especially millennials, use LSD as a means to escape from reality. Since the ongoing pandemic has imposed restrictions on leisure activities, outdoor gatherings, and even intimate physical contact, people may consider using the drug as a therapeutic coping mechanism.
Research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has yearly surveyed almost 17,000 high school seniors in the US to establish trends in drug use, along with students’ beliefs and attitudes towards drug abuse. The lowest era of LSD use was recorded between 1975 and 1997 by the class of 1986 when 7.2 percent of high school seniors reported having used LSD at least once.
In 2019, according to data from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Monitoring the Future 2019 Survey Results: Overall Findings, drug use for LSD among 12th graders was 3.6 percent.
In Europe, 4.2 percent of individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 have reportedly used LSD at least once. On further investigation, the proportion of people within this age group to have used LSD in the previous year was more than 1 percent in seven countries, namely the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, and Poland.
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Like any drug taken in unsupervised dosages, the effects of LSD can be extremely unpredictable, adversely affecting the user’s mood and personality and distorting their perception of surroundings, people, and things.
The effects of LSD generally begin to kick in after 30 to 45 minutes of taking the drug and may last for as long as 4 to 12 hours. During this time, users usually tend to experience the following symptoms:
When taken in larger quantities, the negative effects of LSD abuse may include:
Using LSD in large amounts for fairly long periods can have severe detrimental effects on a user’s sense of self and overall perception, so much so that even the sizes, colors, shapes, sounds, and movements of things might seem distorted. A rather characteristic and extremely scary symptom of LSD use is the ‘crossing over’ of sensations, where users may feel they can ‘hear’ colors or ‘see’ sounds.
As with any psychedelic drug, LSD users severely impair their ability to make rational decisions and are therefore unable to foresee considerable dangers. For instance, an LSD user could try and step out of a window to get a better look’ at the ground below, or might suddenly stop in the middle of a busy intersection to stare at something, unknowing of the dangers these could cause to his life.
Users tend to develop tolerance to the effects of LSD rather quickly, mainly because LSD accumulates within the body. After the third or fourth successive day of taking the drug, increasing the amount excessively will still not produce the desired euphoric effects. Instead, these higher doses tend to increase the risk of experiencing a bad trip and developing psychosis. However, after three to four days of abstinence, normal tolerance returns for most users.
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Yes. Depending on certain factors, LSD affects everyone differently. These include:
Regular use of LSD does not cause physical dependence; hence there are no known physical withdrawal symptoms. However, few reports are highlighting psychological dependence, but conclusive evidence is limited.
Some LSD users have also reported experiencing flashbacks. These are characterized as a relapse of an LSD trip and can be extremely frightening and nerve-wracking.
Flashbacks tend to come without warning and may occur weeks, months, and even years after taking the drug. They generally include visual or auditory distortions or hallucinations associated with perceptual or emotional alterations.
Flashbacks are more likely to occur if LSD is used in combination with other drugs, stress, and sleeplessness.
LSD is regarded as the most potent psychedelic and the most powerful psychoactive substance ever discovered. It can cause severe alterations in perception, taking the user away from reality and rationalism, while endangering their lives, and also the wellbeing of those around them. The hallucinations and flashbacks resulting from LSD use can cause significant mental chaos, which is what makes this drug potentially frightening.
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