LSD, a Brief History
LSD stands for Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and it is manufactured from ergot, a fungus that grows on rye. LSD dissolves in water and is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. LSD is one of the most potent mood-changing and hallucinogenic chemicals.
LSD was first synthesised in 1938 by the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman who was looking for a new headache treatment.
In 1943, Dr. Hofmann discovered LSD’s hallucinogenic properties by accidentally swallowing some of it. A few days later, he tried to duplicate the experience by taking what he thought was a small amount of the drug, 250 micrograms (the dose necessary to produce intense hallucinations in an average adult male is about 50 micrograms).
Scientists in the US began experimenting with LSD in 1949, at first with animals. LSD was tried as a treatment for alcoholism, schizophrenia, depression, narcotics addictions, sexual dysfunction, and criminal behavior. It had no positive effect on any of these conditions. On the contrary, LSD seemed to cause or aggravate personality disorders. Research in the US was banned in 1962 and soon after it appeared as a street drug. By the late 1960s its distribution had become epidemic and it was declared illegal.
In the 1960s, LSD was a particularly popular drug and personalities of the time (Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, William Burroughs) encouraged the use for many young people looking for a new type of experience. The psychosis and deaths (usually from people jumping from high buildings) that resulted led to it being prohibited.
LSD is sold as tablets, capsules or in liquid form. LSD is often added to absorbent paper, which is then divided into decorated pieces, each equivalent to one dose.
Some of the common street names of LSD are acid, acid blotter, doses, microdot, tabs, or trips. It may be named after the designs on blotter paper, like Black Star, Orange Sunshine, Ying-Yang, and so on.
Other street names: Boomers, Dots, Golden Dragon, Heavenly Blue, Hippie, Loony Toons, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Pane, Purple Heart, Superman, Window Pane, Zen.
LSD, Withdrawal Symptoms
Since LSD is not considered an addictive drug, there is little risk of physical dependence and there is no documented evidence of withdrawal symptoms. People using LSD can safely stop taking it without experiencing any physical symptoms of withdrawal. For this reason, physical LSD withdrawal treatment is not often required. However, LSD is considered psychologically addictive which would explain why so many people keep using it.
LSD users can experience “flashbacks”. A flashback is when the LSD user experiences a short “trip” long after the effects of the drug have worn off. A person may experience a flashback days, months or years after using the drug. These flashback trips can be triggered by stress, sleepiness, or other drugs such as cannabis.
Overcoming the psychological addiction on LSD requires counseling, therapy, and support, just like any other drug addiction.
Find out more about LSD withdrawal here
What are Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens are substances which distort someone’s perception of reality. While under the influence of drugs like LSD, a user may have delusions, see images, hear sounds and feel sensations that feel like they are really happening — but are not real. Hallucinogens produce rapid, intense mood swings and the user may feel several emotions simultaneously.
LSD is not the only hallucinogen. There are scores of others, such as MDMA (ecstasy), PCP (angel dust) and cannabis but LSD is the yardstick against which all other hallucinogens are measured.
The Effects of LSD
LSD distorts the perception of reality by interfering with the brain’s ability to selectively store immediate experiences.The main part of the brain, the cortex, is overwhelmed with sensory input. This flooding of information that you are experiencing, storing and comparing with past experiences is believed to be the basis of the psychedelic experience.
Differences in composition, purity and strength make the impact and duration of the effect on the user highly unpredictable. Most LSD “trips” last between six and twelve hours.
The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. Thoughts jump from idea to idea, memory to memory. The drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations (light, colors, and shapes are altered, and imaginary objects appear), often including images like bleeding or melting walls, or shimmering effects.
LSD-related hallucinations and changes in perception have caused some users to panic or feel they are losing their minds. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings of despair, fear of losing control, or fear of insanity and death while using LSD. LSD users also lose their sense of time.
Symptoms and Signs of LSD Abuse
Symptoms of LSD use can include:
Salivation or dry mouth
Tingling fingers or toes
Anxiety, depression, disorientation or paranoia
Dizziness, nausea, rapid heart rate and convulsions
Sweating or chills
Signs of LSD Abuse
Abuse of LSD can be recognized by noticing the following signs:
Confused perception of reality
Permanent changes in perception
Rapid heart rate
High blood pressure
Flashbacks — a re-experience of the hallucinations — even years later
Health Risks for LSD Use
LSD use can cause the following short term physical symptoms:
Bad body odor
Loss of appetite
Long-term Effects of LSD and other Hallucinogens
Heavy and long term sbuse of LSD, mushrooms or mescaline can result in these effects:
Cross-tolerance — the need for increasing amounts to feel effects; including other halucinogens
Increased risk of developing schizophrenia or psychotic episodes
Fatal liver damage (if a bad mushroom is ingested).
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) — visual disturbances, depression, or panic attacks long after use
Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment at Castle Craig Hospital
Castle Craig Hospital in Scotland has over 20 years experience of treating people with addictions. LSD rehabilitation treatment is different from most other drugs that are addictive. The basic LSD treatment is to care for the person and help them become calm and stress free.
Psychotherapy helps former users of LSD address the confusion and fear that may be associated with HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder). After experiencing a flashback, patients also report feeling guilty or fearful that they have brain damage. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach the addict how to manage triggers and flashbacks.
Visit our treatment section to find out more information about drug rehabilitation at Castle Craig.