LSD is one of the most potent, mood-changing chemicals. It is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in the ergot fungus that grows on rye and other grains.
It is produced in crystal form in illegal laboratories, mainly in the United States. These crystals are converted to a liquid for distribution. It is odourless, colourless, and has a slightly bitter taste.
Known as “acid” and by many other names, LSD is sold on the street in small tablets (“microdots”), capsules or gelatine squares (“window panes”). It is sometimes added to absorbent paper, which is then divided into small squares decorated with designs or cartoon characters (“loony toons”). Occasionally it is sold in liquid form. But no matter what form it comes in, LSD leads the user to the same place—a serious disconnection from reality.
LSD users call an LSD experience a “trip,” typically lasting twelve hours or so. When things go wrong, which often happens, it is called a “bad trip,” another name for a living hell.
Albert Hofmann, a chemist working for Sandoz Pharmaceutical, synthesised LSD for the first time in 1938, in Basel, Switzerland, while looking for a blood stimulant. However, its hallucinogenic effects were unknown until 1943 when Hofmann accidentally consumed some LSD. It was later found that an oral dose of as little as 25 micrograms (equal in weight to a few grains of salt) is capable of producing vivid hallucinations.
Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, who promoted LSD and other mind-bending psychiatric drugs, was arrested and imprisoned for drug-related crimes.
Because of its similarity to a chemical present in the brain and its similarity in effects to certain aspects of psychosis, LSD was used in experiments by psychiatrists through the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. While the researchers failed to discover any medical use for the drug, the free samples supplied by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals for the experiments were distributed broadly, leading to wide use of this substance.
LSD was popularised in the 1960s by individuals such as psychologist Timothy Leary, who encouraged American students to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” This created an entire counterculture of drug abuse and spread the drug from America to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Even today, use of LSD in the United Kingdom is significantly higher than in other parts of the world.
Psychiatric mind-control programs focusing on LSD and other hallucinogens created a generation of acid-heads.
While the ‘60s counterculture used the drug to escape the problems of society, the Western intelligence community and the military saw it as a potential chemical weapon. In 1951, these organisations began a series of experiments. US researchers noted that LSD “is capable of rendering whole groups of people, including military forces, indifferent to their surroundings and situations, interfering with planning and judgment, and even creating apprehension, uncontrollable confusion and terror.”
Experiments in the possible use of LSD to change the personalities of intelligence targets, and to control whole populations, continued until the United States officially banned the drug in 1967.
Use of LSD declined in the 1980s, but picked up again in the 1990s. For a few years after 1998 LSD had become more widely used at dance clubs and all-night raves by older teens and young adults. Use dropped significantly in 2000 or so.
“The days following my LSD use, I was filled with anxiety and extreme depression. Following my first ‘trip’ on LSD, I would eat it frequently, sometimes up to four or five times per week for an extended period. Each time I would take the drug, mentally I was drifting more and more out of reality. The eventual effect was the inability to feel normal in my own skin.” —Andrea
\1. synthesize: to make (a drug) by combining chemicals.
On LSD, which is often taken in tab form, an intense, altered state transforms into disassociation and despair. Often there is no stopping “bad trips,” which can go on for up to twelve hours.
“I started drinking at the age of 15. Then I progressed to taking Ecstasy, speed, cocaine and LSD.
“I found it difficult to hold down a job and became depressed and thought I would never overcome my obsession with drugs. I attempted suicide twice by overdosing on pills. I was put under psychiatrists who gave me even more drugs, antidepressants and tranquillisers, which just made matters worse.
“As an outlet for my feelings I turned to self-harm—I started cutting and burning myself.” —Justin
"After taking the acid, I imagined that we had driven head-on into an eighteen-wheeler and were killed. I could hear the screeching metal, then a dark and evil quiet. I was terrified at this point, I actually thought we were dead....For a year I wouldn’t go into any cemetery because I was terrified I would find my own grave.” —Jenny
When teens were surveyed to find out why they started using drugs in the first place, 55% replied that it was due to pressure from their friends. They wanted to be cool and popular. Dealers know this.
They will approach you as a friend and offer to “help you out” with “something to bring you up.” The drug will “help you fit in” or “make you cool.”
Drug dealers, motivated by the profits they make, will say anything to get you to buy their drugs. They will tell you that taking LSD will “expand your mind.”
They don’t care if the drugs ruin your life as long as they are getting paid. All they care about is money. Former dealers have admitted they saw their buyers as “pawns in a chess game.”
Get the facts about drugs. Make your own decisions.
“Within my own little trip world I started to get paranoid, feeling my friends were conspiring to do something, maybe even kill me. I thought to myself, I have to get out of here.
“I ran into my friend’s bedroom, opened the window as wide as it would go and jumped out. Luckily for me my friend lived on the ground floor. I ran across a wooded area toward a bridge. I could feel my heart starting to beat faster and faster. I heard voices telling me I was going to have a heart attack and die.
“This was not the end. Years later, I was running and all of a sudden, bam, I was having flashbacks of the time I was running in my trip. I started to have a bad panic attack and heard voices telling me I was going to have a heart attack and die.
“I would tell anyone even thinking of taking LSD to reconsider.” —Brian
Hallucinogens are drugs that cause hallucinations. Users see images, hear sounds and feel sensations that seem very real but do not exist. Some hallucinogens also produce sudden and unpredictable changes in the mood of those who use them.
“At the age of 16 I was introduced to a drug that I abused for over three years—LSD. What I was unaware of was the fact that LSD is the most potent hallucinogen known to man.
“The drug came on a small piece of paper no bigger than my index finger, called a blotter. Fifteen minutes after putting the paper on my tongue my entire body got hot and I began to sweat.
“Some other reactions that I experienced while on the drug included dilated pupils, nausea and ‘goose bumps.’ While high on LSD I felt like there was a huge distortion both in my mind and body. The visual changes as well as the extreme changes in mood were like some strange scary trip—one in which I felt like I had no control over my mind and body.” —Edith
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
LSD is the most powerful hallucinogenic (mind-altering) drug. It is 100 times more potent than hallucinogenic mushrooms.
In Europe, as many as 4.2% of those aged 15 to 24 have taken LSD at least once. When surveyed, the percentage of people in this age group who had used LSD in the past year exceeded 1% in seven countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Hungary and Poland).
In America, since 1975, researchers funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have annually surveyed nearly 17,000 high school seniors nationwide to determine trends in drug use and to measure the students’ attitudes and beliefs about drug abuse. Between 1975 and 1997, the lowest period of LSD use was reported by the class of 1986, when 7.2% of high school seniors reported using LSD at least once in their lives.
The percentage of seniors reporting LSD use at least once over the course of the prior year nearly doubled from a low of 4.4% in 1985 to 8.4% in 1997. In 1997, 13.6% of seniors had experimented with LSD at least once in their lives.
A study released in January 2008 found that about 3.1 million people in the US aged 12 to 25 said they had used LSD.
LSD is 4000 times stronger than mescaline.
“I started hanging out at strip clubs, casinos and became very promiscuous, visiting brothel after brothel and soon to be introduced to other drugs.
“I had now lost all my inheritance and had to move into a crack house where I stayed for a year watching people die, losing my business and becoming a thief.
“I was arrested in November 2003 for attempted hijacking and went to prison.
“I had hurt and lost everyone that loved me and I was disowned.
“I ended up homeless and on the streets living and sleeping in a cardboard box by the [train] station, begging and struggling to find ways to get my next meal.” —Fred