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LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), commonly called "acid," was discovered in 1938 and is the most powerful known hallucinogen - a drug that radically changes a person's mental state by distorting the perception of reality to the point where, at high doses, hallucinations occur. Although it is derived from a fungus that grows on rye and other grains, LSD is semi-synthetic. It is chemically manufactured in illicit laboratories, except for a small amount which is produced legally for research.
LSD, commonly referred to as "acid," is sold on the street in tablets, capsules, and, occasionally, liquid form. It is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste and is usually taken by mouth. Often LSD is packaged in capsules, tablets, or solutions, or spotted on to gelatin sheets or pieces of blotting paper, with each square representing one dose.
The effects of LSD are unpredictable. They depend on the amount taken; the user's personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30 to 90 minutes after taking it.
Sensations and feelings change much more dramatically than the physical signs. The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in a large enough dose, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The user's sense of time and self changes. Sensations may seem to "cross over," giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic.
Users refer to their experience with LSD as a "trip" and to acute adverse reactions as a "bad trip." These experiences are long - typically they begin to clear after about 12 hours.
Appearing first are physical effects including: numbness; muscle weakness and trembling; rapid reflexes; increased blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature; impaired motor skills and coordination; dilated pupils; and, occasionally, nausea and seizures. One of most noticeable signs is laughter, often at things that aren't particularly funny and often uncontrollable.
- Dramatic changes in perception, thought, and mood occur shortly after the
physical effects. These may include:
- vivid, usually visual, "pseudo-hallucinations" that the user is aware are not real
- distorted perceptions of: time (minutes seem like hours); distance (hazardous if operating motor vehicles or standing near balcony edges); gravity (sensations of floating or being pressed down); the space between oneself and one's environment (for some, a feeling of oneness with the universe, for others, a feeling of terror)
- fusion of the senses (music is "seen," colors "heard")
- diminished control over thought processes, resulting in recent or long-forgotten memories resurfacing and blending with current experience, or in insignificant thought or objects taking on deep meaning
The side effects of LSD are: dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors.
Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of insanity and death, and despair while using LSD. Some fatal accidents have occurred during states of LSD intoxication.
Many LSD users experience flashbacks (visual images ranging form formless colors to frightening hallucinations), without the user having taken the drug again. A flashback occurs suddenly, often without warning, and may occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. Flashbacks usually occur in people who use hallucinogens chronically or have an underlying personality problem; however, otherwise healthy people who use LSD occasionally may also have flashbacks. Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use. LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression. It is difficult to determine the extent and mechanism of the LSD involvement in these illnesses.
Most users of LSD voluntarily decrease or stop its use over time. LSD is not considered an addictive drug since it does not produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior as do cocaine, amphetamine, heroin, alcohol, and nicotine. However, like many of the addictive drugs, LSD produces tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take progressively higher doses to achieve the state of intoxication that they had previously achieved. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug.
Common nicknames for LSD are: a, acid, animal, barrels, battery acid, beast, Big D, black acid, black star, black sunshine, black tabs, blotter, blotter acid, blotter cube, blue acid, blue barrels, blue chairs, blue cheers, blue heaven, blue microdot, blue mist, blue moons, blue star, blue vials, brown bombers, brown dots, California sunshine, cap, chief, chocolate chips, cid, coffee, conductor, contact lens, crackers, crystal tea, cubes, cupcakes, d, deeda, domes, dots, double dome, electric Kool-Aid, fields, flash, flat blues, ghost, golden dragon, goofy's, grape parfait, green double domes, green single domes, green wedge, grey shields, hats, Hawaiian sunshine, hawk, haze, headlights, heavenly blue, instant zen, l, lason sa daga, LBJ, lysergide, mellow yellow, mickey's, microdot, mighty Quinn, mind detergent, one way, optical illusions, orange barrels, orange cubes, orange haze, orange micro, orange wedges, Owsley, Owsley's acid, pane, paper acid, peace, peace tablets, pearly gates, pellets, pink blotters, pink Owsley, pink panther, pink robots, pink wedge, pink witches, potato, pure love, purple barrels, purple flats, purple haze, purple hearts, purple ozoline, recycle, royal blues, Russian sickles, sacrament, sandoz, smears, snowmen, squirrel, strawberries, strawberry fields, sugar, sugar cubes, sugar lumps, sunshine, tabs, tail lights, ticket, trip, twenty-five, vodka acid, wedding bells, wedges, white dust, white lightning, white Owsley's, window glass, window pane, yellow, yellow dimples, yellow sunshine, zen, zig zag man.
Since 1975, MTF researchers have annually surveyed almost 17,000 high school seniors nationwide to determine trends in drug use and to measure attitudes and beliefs about drug abuse. Over the past 2 years, the percentage of seniors who have used LSD has remained relatively stable. Between 1975 and 1997, the lowest lifetime use of LSD was reported by the class of 1986, when 7.2 percent of seniors reported using LSD at least once in their lives. In 1997, 13.6 percent of seniors had experimented with LSD at least once in their lifetimes. The percentage of seniors reporting use of LSD in the past year nearly doubled from a low of 4.4 percent in 1985 to 8.4 percent in 1997.
In 1997, 34.7 percent of seniors perceived great risk in using LSD once or
twice, and 76.6 percent said they saw great risk in using LSD regularly. More
than 80 percent of seniors disapproved of people trying LSD once or twice, and
almost 93 percent disapproved of people taking LSD regularly.
Almost 51 percent of seniors said it would have been fairly easy or very easy for them to get LSD if they had wanted it.