LSD (which received its acronym from the German word for it, Lysergsäure-diethylamid) was synthesized on November 16, 1938 by Swiss chemist Doctor Albert Hoffman of the Sandoz Laboritories in Basel, Switzerland as a part of a large group of researchers studying medically beneficial derivatives of the ergot fungus. Initially, Dr. Hoffman was trying to identify a chemical that would stimulate circulatory and respiratory function. It was failed to find any benefit for this and was forgotten about until five years later on April 16, in which Dr. Hoffman returned to working on the chemical for reasons that it had not been entirely investigated. While recreating a batch of the liquid, he became dizzy and restless. He went directly home and layed on his bed, where he said he was in a dreamlike state of mind. He stated that upon closing his eyes he saw "fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with instense, kaleidoscopic play of colors." He concluded that he must have absorbed some of the Lysergic Acid Diethylamide through the tips of his fingers. Three days later, which would be known as "Bicycle Day," he intentionally took some. Five years after that fateful day, Sandoz Laboratories issued LSD as a psychiatric drug in 1947 to study schizophrenia.
The first, intentional LSD trip was taken on April 19, 1943. This day has become known as Bicycle Day. Dr. Albert Hoffman had intentionally taken 250 micrograms of LSD, the lowest dose he thought would have any effect based on other ergot alkaloids. After ingestion, Dr. Hoffman was having great trouble speaking and presenting thoughts intelligently. On the eponymous bicycle journy home, he recognized and thought that he was completely stationary despite his quite rapid speed. Upon arriving safely home, he summoned a doctor and asked his neighbor for milk, believing that it would relieve or lessen the symptoms. Once the doctor showed up, no physical abnormalities were present, besides tremendously dilated pupils. After spending hours horrified that his body had been possessed by demons, that his next door neighbor was a witch, and that his furniture was physically threathening him, Dr. Hoffman became convinced that he was goin insane. However, over time, he stated that feelings of grave fear and anxiety gave way to feelings of happiness and grattitude and that he was actually enjoying the colorful images behind his closed eyes. He mentions seeing fantastic imagery and fractal-like kaleidoscopic plays of color. He said that every single audible perception, such as the sound of a passing vehicle, was morphed into optical and visionary perceptions (this is an condition, that occurs in a small number of people naturally, known as synesthesia, "hearing" colors and "tasting" or "seeing" sounds). The next morning after sleep, Dr. Hoffman recognized that he was especially clearheaded and refreshed, and that his cereal tasted unusually delicious. Upon stepping outside, he noticed that his garden was full of color and that his sense were of the highest sensitivity he had known.
Throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the Central Intelligence Agency became exceedingly interested in the possible uses of LSD for war. With their top secret project, MKULTRA, the CIA studied the effects of LSD as a possible mind control substance and/or truth serum. Hundreds of participants such as members of the public, military personnel, prostitutes, and mental patients were given LSD; most without the knowledge of taking it. The experiments often ended with suicide because of extreme psychological torture by the CIA. It was decades before the CIA came clean with the project and gave apologies to the families of those lost.
Doctor Timothy Leary, a former psychology lecturer at Harvard University, was most likely the most prominent advocator of LSD use. He realized that within the right conditions, LSD could give the user a very beneficial and inspiring experience. While visiting Mexico, Leary had tried hallucinogenic mushrooms used in Native American spiritual rituals. Leary and a group of colleagues began experimenting with psilocybin mushrooms on jailed prisoners. He identified a ninety percent success rate preventing repeat offenses of the prisoners. His findings were later discovered to be intentionally or unintentionally misleading. Later, Leary was introduced to LSD, which almost instantly became his mental catalyst of choice. He promoted the fact that his experiments produced no murders, suicides, psychotic episodes, or Psychedelic Crises (bad trips). It was quite the opposite; many of Leary's participants reported profound spiritual experiences which they felt changed their life for the better. Concern of Leary's work spread through parents and the university. Leary took a semester break in spring, thus not fulfilling his duties as a professor, only to come back without a job. His research gradually changed from controlled science into LSD parties. With Leary's promotion of the drug, the hippie counterculture had stepped in.
The Hippie CountercultureEdit
During the 1960s, many people were intrigued by Dr. Timothy Leary's infamous quote, "tune in, turn on, and drop out." They did just that. The general public began experimenting with LSD use. Music and art arose trying to depict what the world is like on a hallucinogenic trip. These became known as psychedelic (coined by Aldous Huxley; "mind-manifesting") rock and psychedelic art. Psychedelic rock and its subgenres aimed to be reminiscent of an "acid trip" with dreamy and surreal sounds. Many psychedelic bands include but are in no way limited to The Beatles ("Yellow Submarine" and "I'm Only Sleeping"), Pink Floyd, Cream, Jefferson Airplane ("White Rabbit"), and Jimi Hendrix ("Purple Haze"), among others. Psychedelic artists tending to use wide brush strokes with surrealistic colors and fractal-like images. With all of this, people began noticing the strong pull of LSD. Haight-Ashbury, of San Francisco, California, was a prime for LSD use. The term hippie was used to desribe anyone who moved to Haight-Ashbury and advocated the use of mind-altering drugs.
LSD use can be attributed to many discoveries as well. Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest, stated that he received inspiration for his novel through the use of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. The discoverers of the structure of DNA, Francis Crick and James D. Watson, were supposedly under the influence of a small dose of LSD at the time that they discovered it. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had experiences with LSD, and they are both billionaires to this day.
In spite of the hippie counterculture, the government became increasingly apprehensive as to the cultural effects of LSD. They "noticed" that widespread use "transformed the common public into a brainless, lawless mass of citizens". They decided to make it globally illegal in October of 1968. Scientific use was outlawed in the 1980s; however, in 2010, studies on the effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide will continue.
Dosage And DurationEdit
Although Dr. Albert Hoffman had ingested nearly 250 micrograms, the actual threshold dosage is approximately twenty micrograms. This threshold is overwhelmingly low considering almost all other drugs are measures in milligrams or higher. A mild dose is considered to be anywhere from twenty to eighty, while a strong dose is over four hundred micrograms. Once ingested, the onset usually takes twenty minutes to one hour. Coming up to the peak/plateau then takes an additional fifteen to thirty minutes. At this point, the plateau (full-blown effects of the drug) last around three to six hours. Once the peak is over and done with, coming down off the effects takes three to five hours. The whole experience encompasses six and a half to twelve and a half hours.
It is most commonly taken orally through the use of blotter, microdots, gelatin, sugar cubes, or liquid, the latter three being less common methods of ingestion. Though it is taken orally, it can still be injected intraveneously.
In plain and simple terms, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide is almost impossible to overdose on. The lethal dose, in humans, is said to be anywhere from two hundred micrograms per kilogram of body weight to more than one milligram per kilogram. That being said, the lethal dose for a 180 pound person would be between 16,300 micrograms (815 times the threshold dose) and 86,600 micrograms (4,330 times the threshold). There have been cases where people have mistaken pure LSD as another drug and taken as much as 40,000 micrograms and survived without any mental or physical harm. The only death that can be attributed solely to the dosage of LSD taken was an instance where a man, mistaking LSD for heroin, had intravenously taken 300,000 micrograms, or 15,000 times a common dose.
LSD's phsyical effects are by far not commonplace. The greatest change of physical attributes when under the influence of LSD are overwhelmingly dilated pupils, known as mydriasis. Often the pupils will extended to the rims of the irises. Other physical, but generally unnoticeable effects include sleeplessness, perspiration, jaw-clenching, uterine contraction, saliva and mucus production, hyperreflexia, and elevated blood sugar levels.
LSD's primary use is to manipulate the world you see and the surroundings around you. The effects are most noticeable through sight. Colossal visual distortions become hugely apparent with high enough doses. "Breathing" objects, tracers behind movement, rippling and waving surfaces, "rivers" in carpets or wall patterns, extreme intensification of colors and lights ("sparkling"), objects with entirely new textures, vibrant geometric patterns, and shape suggestibility have been reported. Users state seeing the world in more than three dimensions and hyper-brilliant colors. In even higher doses, the world around you will start to merge and objects will start blending together. Audible noises spark the production of colors and worldly movement ("seeing" sounds). This is known as synesthesia; however, it is not a generally common occurence but may be with high enough doses. Out-of-body and near death experiences and a general dissociation is not uncommon. After the trip is over, users have reported seeing the world in a brighter, more comforting, and happier state.
The drug has a fairly prominent emotional manipulation as well as sensory. Feelings of great introspection and understanding of the world have been reported. In a study in particular, eighty-three percent of individuals said that they had insight and had learned something new about themselves. Sixty-two percent said that LSD had changed their life for the better. Emotions may be rapidly changing, or contradictory emotions (anger and peace, happiness an depression, empathy and carelessness, etc.) may even arise simultaneously. Depersonalization and "ego loss" are accompanied by an LSD trip as well. This means that the user may forget themself entirely and lose connection with their personality and reality as a whole. This could potentially open the doors to experiencing a oneness and strong empathetic and emotional connection with the universe.
Potential Medical UsesEdit
LSD has been used for many decades in psychiatry, and it is argued to have medical benefits such as spirituality, creativity enhancement, pain relief, and the treament of alcoholism, among other. But the United States Drug Enforcement Agency thinks otherwise; "...produces no aphrodisiac effects, does not increase creativity, has no lasting positive effect in treating alcoholics or criminals, does not produce a 'model psychosis', and does not generate immediate personality change."
The benefits of this drug can be leaned towards a use in psychotherapy. In the 1960s through the 1980s, it was believed that LSD can lead to the uncovering of repressed memories.
Some studies in the 1950s that used LSD to treat alcoholism professed a fifty percent success rate, five times higher than estimates near ten percent for Alcoholics Anonymous. These studies were criticized for methodological flaws, and different groups had inconsistent results. Mangini's 1998 paper reviewed this history. She concluded that the efficacy of LSD in treating alcoholism remains an open question.
LSD was studied in the 1960s by Eric Kast as an analgesic for serious and chronic pain caused by cancer or other major trauma. Even at low (sub-psychedelic) dosages, it was found to be at least as effective as traditional opiates, while being much longer lasting pain reduction (lasting as long as a week after peak effects had subsided). Kast attributed this effect to a decrease in anxiety. This reported effect is being tested (though not using LSD) in an ongoing (as of 2006) study of the effects of the psychedelic tryptamine psilocybin on anxiety in terminal cancer patients.
When used correctly, as in the right state of mind, the proper setting, comfortable company, etc., Lysergic Acid Diethylamide can trigger extremely profound spiritual experiences. In has the potential of doing this mainly due to the fact that the drug unblocks barriers between the conscious and subconscious mind, allowing the user to truly discover what is hidden deep within his consciousness. Users may feel like they have come in contact with a greater spiritual entity or cosmic order. Many feel like they have left their bodies to journey within their own mind of the vastness of the universe.
LSD is considered to be one of the least toxic chemicals known to exist; however, under its effects, you are inable to make completely sensible judgements and thus prone to accidents while on it.
As stated in Dr. Albert Hoffman's LSD—My Problem Child, the chemical has a significant effect on the mammalian uterus. It can cause uterine contractions comparable to ergobasine, a strong uterotonic compund found in ergot. This makes LSD use by pregnant women considerably damaging to the fetus.
Flashbacks and HPPDEdit
"Flashbacks" are a phenomenon in which certain aspects of a user's trip may come back to them at any time days, weeks, months, or even years after stopping use of LSD. Both positive and negatory effects of an LSD trip may be present in a flashback. Flashbacks are considered fairly uncommon, seeing as how seventy percent of people who have ever used LSD report that they had never had them. The term flashback is generally applied to just LSD use; however, flashbacks can result with use of any hallucinogenic substance or as a part of post-tramatic stress disorder.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is of greater concern to LSD users. This is a condition in where the visual effects of tripping never end and become stuck with the user, unlike flashbacks, which typically end after seconds. HPPD is extremely rare and have only happened to a very small subpopulation of individuals, but there is no treatment for the disorder.
There are some cases of LSD inducing a psychosis in people who appeared to be healthy prior to taking LSD. This issue was reviewed extensively in a 1984 publication by Rick Strassman. In most cases, the psychosis-like reaction is of short duration, but in other cases it may be chronic. It is difficult to determine whether LSD itself induces these reactions or if it triggers latent conditions that would have manifested themselves otherwise, but many studies note that LSD may not have the ability to purely cause psychosis and that it only has the ability to bring out predisposed conditions. The similarities of time course and outcomes between putatively LSD-precipitated and other psychoses suggests that the two types of syndromes are not different and that LSD may have been a nonspecific trigger (entirely seperate from the cause). Several studies have tried to estimate the prevalence of LSD-induced prolonged psychosis (0.8 in one thousand volunteers and 1.8 in one thousand psychotherapy patients in Cohen 1960; nine per one thousand psychotherapy patients but they were unable to compare the rate of psychosis in these volunteers and patients with the rate of psychosis found in other groups of research volunteers or in other methods of psychological treatment like psychoanalysis. In fact, subsequent mental disturbances may be falsely attributed to LSD such as a Chinese girl in a control group (taking water she thought contained LSD) who believed that LSD made her paraplegic, which is simply impossible due to LSD's physical harmlessness.
Forms of LSDEdit
Typically, the most common form of LSD is blotter paper, or absorbant paper dipped in an LSD-water or an LSD-ethanol solution. Decades ago, LSD was handed out in sugar cubes with doses as high as one thousand micrograms. Today, however, a typical dose on a blotter tab ranges from twenty to eighty micrograms. In addition to blotter paper and sugar cubes, gelatin sheets, microdots, powders, and liquid. All forms, with the exception of powders and liquid, have an average dose of around one hundred micrograms. Currently, the average dose is nearly ten times smaller than a general dose found in the mid-1960s. Roughly fifty micrograms would cost between five and fifteen dollars, though through friends, that price could be as low as free. Buying LSD in bulk can be cheaper as well, usually one to two dollars per hit.
Belgium — LSD is illegal to possess, buy, sell, or produce in Belgium without government clearance.
Brazil — LSD is listed as a controlled substance, making production, distribution, or possession illegal.
Canada — LSD is schedule III in Canada.
Germany — LSD has been illegal since 1971 when it was added to paragraph I of the German Drug Law.
Greece — LSD is a class A drug in Greece. It is illegal to possess or sell without a special license from the government.
Italy — LSD is illegal to buy, sell, or possess in Italy. Penalties for possession of <0.15 mg of active principle (pure LSD) results in an administrative punishment (i.e. you pay a fee for the first time you're caught, then the second time they can suspend your passport), otherwise it's considered an illegal sale.
Mexico — LSD is controlled in Mexico, however a law passed in 2009 made personal possession of 15 micrograms of LSD (.015 mg) not a crime.
Netherlands — LSD is list I / schedule I in the Netherlands. This makes it illegal to possess, distribute, and produce without a license. The use of LSD is not illegal.
New Zealand — LSD is Schedule I (Class A) in New Zealand.
Norway — LSD is Schedule I in Norway and illegal to buy or possess without a special license.
Portugal — Effective July 2001, personal use of LSD was decriminalized by Law 30/2000. Possession of less than 500 ug is not regarded as a criminal offense, though the substance is liable to be seized and the possessor can be referred to mandatory treatment. Sale, or possession of quantities greater than the personal possession limit, are criminal offenses punishable by jail time.
Russia — LSD is controlled and illegal to possess without a research license in Russia. Some news in 2005 has suggested that there is a move towards changing the law. "Psychedelic drug, LSD-25, likely to be legalized in Russian medicine".
U.K. — LSD is Schedule I/Class A in the U.K., making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess without a license.
United States — LSD is listed as a Schedule I substance
Physical -- 0
Psychological -- 0 - 3 (based on the fact that LSD can help cure OCD, depression, alcoholism, other addictions, etc., yet still shows signs of slight exacerbation of mental trauma through significant use)