LSD: then and now
LSD is synthesized from a naturally occurring substance known as d-lysergic acid amide, which is commonly found in grains like rye, and in seeds of morning glories and Hawaiian baby wood rose. The drug was first synthesized in 1938 by Swiss biochemist Albert Hofmann, but its hallucinogenic properties were not discovered until 1943, when Hofmann accidentally ingested the substance and experienced hallucinations. In the 1950s and 1960s, LSD was used as an experimental treatment for depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), sexual dysfunction and autism. In the 1960s, LSD was part of a psychedelic revolution and as a result, the drug was banned by federal government in 1966 for any recreational or medical treatment purpose.
LSD usually comes in various pill forms and tastes slightly bitter. The minimum effective dose to produce an acute hallucinating state is approximately 25 micrograms. The drug is primarily responsible for producing pseudohallucinations and hallucinations without altering memory and orientation. Pseudohallucinations are illusions derived from actual true experiences, which include synesthesia. Synesthesia is a crossover of senses, such as feeling colors or sounds evoked by a visual image. The most common hallucination experienced by an LCD user is a visual one. Some users may use the drug to experience intense spiritual and out-of-body experiences.
Not generally thought to be physically addictive, LSD abuse leads to psychological addiction, with users craving for an increased dose to experience a high. Those who usually get addicted are addictive to other drugs as well. Though LSD is not physically addictive, it does create a tolerance with the user taking more of it to experience similar effects. This can heighten the risk of death.
Effects of LSD
The way LSD use affects an individual varies from person to person. Here are some of the acute and common effects of LSD ingestion:
- Feeling of inner tension often relieved by laughing or crying
- Multiple and simultaneous occurrence of emotions like joy, rage, terror or panic
- Religiosity and a feeling of oneness with the universe
- Possible distorted perception of the passage of time
- Possible magnification or distortion of sounds
- Moving patterns of bright colors on people and objects
- Halos around objects
- Difficulties expressing thoughts
- Panic attack
- Suicidal ideations
- Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
- Papillary dilatation
Massive overdoses of LSD can result in respiratory arrest, hyperthermia, autonomic instability and bleeding disorders. LSD is also known to cause serotonin syndrome when taken with agents containing serotonin, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin syndrome can result in high body temperature, hypertension, agitation, increased reflexes and tremors.
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) can also occur due to spontaneous, repeated or continuous recurrences of sensory distortions or hallucinations long after initial use with LSD. These symptoms can occur within weeks, months or even years after use, even when brain scans show normal brain structures.