In The Know Zone

What is LSD?

LSD is lysergic acid diethylamide. LSD was discovered in 1938. It is manufactured from ergot, a fungus that grows on rye. LSD dissolves in water and is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. A dose the size of a grain of salt can cause effects.

LSD inhibits the movement of serotonin in the brain, which influences mood. LSD seems to work in the cerebral cortexof the brain, which is involved in mood, thought, and perception, and in the locus ceruleus of the brain, which coordinates sensory perceptions.

The LSD experience is usually called a "trip." A frightening or sickening experience is called a "bad trip." Most LSD trips last between six and twelve hours. LSD users may feel several different emotions at once or have dramatic mood swings. The drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations, often including images like bleeding or melting walls, or shimmering effects. Users lose track of time. They often perceive their bodies as being altered – larger, smaller, a different shape. Users may "hear" colors or "see" sounds. LSD-related hallucinations and changes in perception have caused some users to panic or feel they are losing their minds. Some users have done dangerous or self-injuring things in response to their LSD hallucinations.

LSD frequently causes flashbacks, which are recurrences of some aspects of the LSD experience without taking the drug again. Flashbacks are sudden, and may occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. Flashbacks are more common in people who have used hallucinogens heavily or for a long period of time, or who already have a personality or mood disorder. However, occasional LSD users have also been known to have flashbacks.

LSD is sold on artwork-covered blotter paper cut into tiny stamps, in tiny tablets called "microdots," in thin squares of gelatin called "window panes," in small gelatin tablets, or on sugar cubes or hard candy.

Some of the common street names of LSD are acid, blotter, doses, cid, microdot, tabs, or trips. It may be named after the designs on blotter paper, like Black Star, Orange Sunshine, Ying-Yang, and so on.

History of LSD

LSD stands for "lyserg saeure diaethylamid" in the original German. In English, it is called lysergic acid diethylamide. Dr. Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist looking for a new headache treatment, first produced LSD in 1938. He first developed lysergic acid, a derivative of ergot, a fungus that grows on the rye plant. From lysergic acid he synthesized the compound lysergic acid diethylamide. Hoffman tested the compound, and found it was ineffective. Hoffman stored the drug away for five years and continued his research elsewhere.

In 1943, Dr. Hofmann decided to do some further testing with LSD. He accidentally ingested a small amount of the drug, and was thrust into a hallucinogenic experience. 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. Hofmann’s hallucinations during his second trial were very strong. Still, Hofmann could see no useful application for the drug.

United States scientists began experimenting with LSD in 1949, at first with animals. In the 1950's, human experiments began. At that time, human experimentation was much less regulated than it is today, so the drug was tested widely. 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. The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) also conducted LSD experiments during this period, presumably in hopes of generating some military use for the drug. None of these studies produced a purpose for LSD.

In 1960, Harvard University's Timothy Leary established the Psychedelic Research Project for the study of LSD and other hallucinogens. His overwhelming interest in LSD and outspokenness about its use led to his being fired from Harvard in 1963.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designated LSD an experimental drug and restricted research into it in 1962. LSD appeared as a street drug in 1963, and began to be discussed in mainstream magazines. Its use began to be more widespread; by 1970, at least one million people are believed to have tried it. LSD was banned in the U.S. in 1967, and in 1970 it was placed on Schedule I of the then-new Controlled Substance Act (CSA) schedule. Schedule I drugs are defined as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use.

After the mid-1970s, LSD fell out of popularity for several years. It became somewhat more common again in the early 90s, perhaps in connection with the rave dance culture. LSD is less expensive than other "rave" drugs, such as Ecstasy, which may have led to its renewed popularity.

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