Drug abuse and addiction / Category / Emile Du Toit / May 5th 2014
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as ‘acid’, is the most potent man-made hallucinogenic drug. Just 1/250 millionth of a gram can cause altered perceptions of reality.
Users generally take LSD orally, but they also can smoke, inject or inhale it through the nose. The normal dose is about one millionth of a gram. Because the dose size is so tiny, LSD is measured into or onto other substances (such as sugar cubes or pieces of paper) so that the user can find and ingest it.
When the drug is taken orally, the initial effects begin within 30 minutes. The user experiences the maximum effects in about an hour. The psychological, perceptual and behavioural effects of LSD last eight to 12 hours, then slowly wear off. The body rids itself of LSD with 24 hours.
LSD is not physically addictive. However, this powerful drug can be habit forming and may create psychological dependence when taken frequently or in large doses.
LSD does not actually occur naturally, and there appears to be quite a lot of confusion on this point. Lysergic acid is different to Lysergic acid amides, which occur naturally. To get technical, an amide is a compound that is usually formed from a carboxylic acid (which LSD is) and an amine (in this case diethylamine).
Naturally occurring forms of Lysergic acid amide include the following:
For the record magic mushrooms do not contain lysergic acid at all, but rather contain the psychedelic substance psilocybin.
Hallucinations are altered perceptions of reality. Some of the hallucinations reported by LSD users include the following:
Because LSD grossly impairs judgment, on occasion users have injured or killed themselves by jumping out of windows, throwing themselves in front of moving cars, swimming out to sea, trying to run through walls and other dangerous acts.
The following physiological and psychological damages can result from long-term LSD use:
Bad trips are LSD experiences during which users feel they have lost control of their thoughts, perceptions and behaviours. This frightening mental state may cause panic reactions, confusion and mental depression. Bad trips can happen to anyone, but occur most often in first-time LSD users and individuals with psychiatric problems.
There is no sure way to know who will experience a bad LSD trip. LSD tends to intensify the user’s natural personality traits.
Important factors in determining a user’s reaction to LSD include the following:
Flashbacks are spontaneous recurrences of an LSD experience that tend to have all the qualities of the original trip. They may happen after a single dose, but are more common among frequent LSD abusers.
Flashbacks can occur days or even weeks after using LSD. I have had clients who had radically ‘bad trips’ and then experienced flashbacks, nightmares and re-experiencing of the trip up to a month later. Flashbacks may last a few minutes or several hours, and can happen several times a day, once a week, once a month or only once. Certain experiences also can trigger flashbacks, including stress, bright flashing lights and use of other drugs.
LSD flashbacks can fit into 3 categories:
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