LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a hallucinogen that is commonly referred to as “acid”. It is manufactured from lysergic acid which is made from a fungus (ergotamine tartrate) that grows on rye and other grains. Pure LSD is a white, odorless, and slightly bitter crystalline powder. It is very potent- pure LSD the size of a small pill is enough for approximately 3,000 doses.
On the street, LSD can be sold as a powder in capsules or tablets. LSD powder may also be sold as miniature powder pellets called “microdots”. More often, the LSD crystals are dissolved into a liquid which can be sold in small breath freshener droppers or applied to sugar cubes, gelatin squares (“window panes”), gum, candy, cookies, or even postage stamps. However, the most common form of LSD is called “blotters” or “blotter acid”- small squares of LSD-soaked blotting paper (absorbent paper) each containing one individual dose of LSD. Blotters are often printed with colorful illustrations or cartoon characters.
Also Known As:
acid, backbreaker, blotter acid, blotters, boomers, cid, dot, dots, mellow yellow, barrels, California sunshine, cube, domes, flats, frogs, lids, wedges, microdot, purple haze, hits, sid, tabs, trips, windowpane, yellow sunshine.
How Does LSD Affect the Body?
Generally, LSD is taken by mouth and held on the tongue or swallowed, but there have been a few reports of people inhaling or injecting LSD. The absorption from the gastrointestinal tract occurs rapidly. LSD diffuses into all tissues of the body including the brain. The effects of LSD are felt gradually within 30-60 minutes after taking LSD, peak within 2 to 4 hours, and gradually diminish within 10-12 hours. The first 4 hours are often referred to as a “trip”.
The way that LSD alters perceptions in the brain is unclear. Research suggests that LSD acts on serotonin (a neurotransmitter) receptors in two major parts of the brain. One area (the cerebral cortex) is involved in mood, cognition, and perception; the other area (the locus ceruleus) is described as the “novelty detector” because it receives sensory information from all parts of the body.
The Effects of LSD
The effects of LSD on a person are unpredictable. It is different for everyone. The way a person feels after taking LSD depends on many factors:
- age, body weight, and sex
- mood, expectations, and environment
- the amount of LSD consumed
- whether a person has eaten recently
- the amount of food in a person’s stomach
- how often and long LSD has been used
- medical or psychiatric conditions
- use of other drugs, including non-prescription, prescription, or street drugs
LSD produces vivid visual effects. These visual effects are referred to as “pseudo-hallucinations” because users are aware that they are not real. True hallucinations are visions that are perceived as real. Hallucinations on LSD rarely occur, and can be frightening. The occurrence of hallucinations appears to be dose-related.
Previous positive experiences with LSD do not guarantee subsequent positive “trips”. “Bad trips” are not predictable and are not related to dose, but often associated with a person’s predisposition, setting, and circumstances.
Other psychoactive effects may include:
- extreme mood swings from joy, desperation, depression, anxiety, terror, aggression
- altered sense of gravity (body feels light | heavy)
- difficulty concentrating
- impaired judgment (distance, time, speed)
- impaired short-term memory
- recent or long-forgotten memories may blend in with the present
Physical effects of LSD may include:
- increased blood pressure | heart rate
- dilated pupils
- loss of appetite
- dry mouth
- decreased coordination
No deaths have exclusively resulted from an overdose of LSD. Accidental fatalities have been reported resulting from perceptual distortions leading to accidental death (e.g. believing one can fly or can walk through traffic).
Long-Term Effects of LSD
Long-term effects can include:
- paranoid state
A “flashback” is the spontaneous and unpredictable re-occurrence of LSD visual distortions or emotional experiences during a previous episode of LSD use. Only some people who take LSD experience flashbacks. Flashbacks do not appear to be related to the dose of LSD taken previously and can develop after one single use of LSD.
Long-lasting psychosis can develop and persist after LSD use has stopped. It is similar to paranoid schizophrenia and characterized by hallucinations, delusional thinking, and bizarre behavior. This has been reported after single-use and in regular users. Psychosis may last for years and can affect people without a history or symptoms of psychological disorder.
While these effects can occur within a few months after LSD was taken and decrease over time, they may continue for years.
Is LSD Addictive?
LSD does not cause physical dependence. People who use LSD regularly do not experience physical withdrawal symptoms when they stop. However, it can be psychologically addictive. Some people who take LSD repeatedly feel the need to take it and the drug can take on an exaggerated importance in their lives.
Tolerance to the drug’s effects occurs very rapidly. Often after repeated use for three or four days, no amount of the drug can produce the desired effect. Normal sensitivity to LSD generally returns if the drug is not used for 3 to 4 days.
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