What is LSD? Understanding its effects and its dangers

If you are here questioning, “What is LSD”, you are in the right place. Do the letters LSD provoke images of bell bottoms and flower crowns for your hair? Peace, love, and happiness are still a vibe today in certain circles known to promote hallucinogen use. But there was a dark side to all of that happiness in the form of hallucinogenic nightmares and bad acid trips.

LSD, also known as lysergic acid diethylamide, is more popularly referred to as acid. It was first discovered in the 1930s by a Swiss scientist named Albert Hofmann. He didn’t know that drug produced hallucinogenic effects until the 1940s when he was accidentally exposed and found out that he could see objects with an intense kaleidoscope of colors. This was the 25th combination of his project and is now known as LSD-25.  A few days later after seeing what the drug could do he intentionally took more of the LSD. On April 19, 1943, Albert Hofmann just took the first ever acid trip. Still today April 19th is considered Bicycle Day, and is not about pedaling bikes.

LSD Designs

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LSD can come in a variety of forms and you can’t trust that any two are the same. LSD is a Schedule I substance and due to its illicit nature, it is not regulated by the FDA. Because of this, there is no guarantee that doses of LSD are consistent, or genuine. One of the biggest dangers of drug is that it commonly appears to be something for children. It is often put onto stamp-like paper resembling colorful images that are attractive to young children.

With LSD capable of being absorbed through the skin along with any mucus membrane, even handling the chemically treated paper puts anyone who touches the image at risk. Other popular forms are even scarier when they are produced to appear as literal candy.

What is LSD?

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So, what is LSD? It is described as a manufactured chemical that is mood-altering and it does not naturally occur on its own. The compound for LSD is derived from fungus, or mushrooms. These are not the button mushrooms that you are putting in your salad from the local farmer’s market. These are referred to as psychedelic mushrooms, or mushrooms that produce penicillin, and are examples of hallucinogenic fungi. To put things in perspective, LSD is 100 times more potent than hallucinogenic mushrooms as it is so much more concentrated.

LSD is easy to conceal and easily used without causing suspicion. It takes only a minuscule amount of LSD to notice the effects with onset in under an hour and no set timeline for the trip you are scheduled on. Trips generally last anywhere from 6-16 hours with 12 hours being the average.  This is dependent on many factors including the amount ingested, age, and BMI.

Side Effects

LSD can have a wide range of physical side effects from moderate to severe. Drugs interact differently for everyone so it is hard to pinpoint exactly how an individual will feel or react when taking the drug. Common side effects include dry mouth, numbness, dilated pupils, increased body temperature with profuse sweating, and increased heart rate. Hyperreflexia is also commonly reported with negative experiences along with nausea and tremors. These side effects are common to a wide variety of drugs, both legal and illicit, which makes LSD abuse very hard to detect initially.

Hallucinations are said to be vivid and otherworldly. These hallucinations can be of the auditory form where you hear sensations, or of the visual type where you see things that are not really there. Often color and sound are intensified dramatically.

Effects On The Brain

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LSD can cause delusions, hallucinations, and an artificial sense of euphoria and identity. These are the elements of an LSD high that users refer to as a “good trip”. This is the intended goal for users. Unfortunately, there are other effects that sticker can have, such as terrifying thoughts, fear, anxiety, and panic attacks can also occur making for an uncomfortable time. Depending on how much a person takes and how their body responds to it, a person may experience pleasurable sensations and enlightening experiences or terrifying thoughts that feel out of control.

LSD causes a rise in serotonin levels to rise in the brain. This leads to the artificial sense of euphoria that users find desirable.

Addiction Risks

LSD is not considered a physically addictive drug that causes drug-seeking behavior, but often chronic LSD users feel that emotionally they need the drug to deal with stress, thereby creating a psychological dependence. Users may build up a physical tolerance to the drug, causing them to take higher doses to achieve the same level of hallucinations or euphoria. The brain looking for that increased serotonin hit is the dangerous part of this process that is associated with addiction. Try using the search term, “what is LSD” for more information on the risks of addiction.

LSD Withdrawal

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LSD has not been proven to be physically addictive, but the mental strain of separating from the drug can be hard to deal with. So, if you are still asking the question, what is LSD if not an addictive drug, understand that anxiety, depression, and insomnia are all withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can make it hard for someone on the road to recovery to cope.

Additionally, there is the risk of continued and sporadic hallucinations as your body is coming down from LSD use known as flashbacks.

Extreme changes in mood can occur after discontinuing long-term use of LSD, just like any other mood-altering substance. In addition to this, people sometimes disassociate from their surroundings and peers. This can make recovery difficult and feel isolated.

Managing Withdrawal

For individuals with withdrawal symptoms, there is effective treatment available. Your doctor may decide to prescribe antibiotics while you are managing your symptoms from the withdrawal of LSD. Antidepressants can be helpful in terms of warding off depression and anxiety, or in worse case scenarios suicidal ideation. You will likely need emotional support during your time detoxing with individual and group counseling helpful for many finding themselves in need of support.