LSD-25, LSD, acid, Lysergic acid diethylamide, trips, L, sugar, Sandoz, Sunshine or Lucy is the archetypical psychedelic. Anyone wanting to know what the psychedelic experience is like need look no further than this drug. The experience is nigh on impossible to describe, and is different for each user. Some idea of 'what it's like' may be gleaned from Erowid's experience vaults.
LSD is an ergoline, derived from the alkaloids of the ergot fungus (claviceps purpurea) which grows on rye. It was first synthesised by Albert Hofmann in 1943. It was the 25th compund he derived from the fungus, hence LSD-25. LSD stands for Lysergic sauer diethylamid, German for lysergic acid diethylamide. It affects serotonin uptake in the brain, acting as either an antagonist or a partial agonist at the 5HT2a and 5HT2c receptors.
Though LSD is now illegal worldwide, oyu can still buy seeds like Hawai'ian Baby Woodrose that contain its close cousin LSA.
It has been commented that LSD is the easiest of all drugs to consume. No more than a single drop of liquid, a square of paper smaller than your little fingernail, or a pill no bigger than an ant's head need be consumed. This is because the dosage is tiny, starting at about 100ÃŽÂ¼g (ÃŽÂ¼g means micrograms, or millionths of a gram.), but ranging up to hundreds of times that, depending on how wasted you want to get. The only reported death from overdose was of a man who injected 320mg, or 3200 times the recommended dose. Others have orally consumed larger doses than this and survived.
Because of its importance as a force of change in the 20th century, LSD has been studied more extensively than nearly any other drug. The only physical contraindication all this research has turned up is that it should not be taken by pregnant women, and even this has been called into question by other research.
Mental health risks are a far more realistic concern. LSD (or any psychedelic) may cause a latent psychosis to flourish. This is probably what happened to Syd Barrett. For this reason, people with a family history of schizophrenia or similar disorders are advised not to take acid.
LSD can also cause a 'bad trip', i.e. a profoundly and intensely unpleasant experience, characterised by confusion, paranoia and panic. This is temporary, and like any LSD experience, will wear off within hours, though it may leave the user feeling traumatised.\ It is not thought that LSD can induce lasting psychosis in healthy users. However, LSD is commonly linked to Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), with somewhere between 3 and 70%, according to various sources, experiencing some sort of long terms perceptual problem from usage of the drug, and there are numerous psychological conditions comorbid with HPPD, including depersonalisation disorder.
Because the dosage required is so fucking tiny, one need not be worried about contaminants in illicitly acquired LSD, which is a major concern with other street drugs, especially MDMA. Only the most potent poisons would cause harm at such doses as can be squeesed onto a blotter.
There have been numerous misconceptions, misunderstandings, and downright lies about the dangers of LSD including the following:
- LSD crystallises in your spine and remains there for the rest of your life, occasionally causing 'flashbacks'. Some even say that when your hear a crack in your spine from stiffness, this causes the stored LSD to be released. In fact, LSD cannot survive for extended periods of time except when refrigerated; thus there is no way it could stay active in the human body for more than 24 hours. Furthermore, it is water-soluble (as evidenced by the fact that it comes in liquid form), so it could not crystallise in the body.
- LSD causes your brain to bleed
- LSD causes your spine to move up into your brain
- LSD on the street is laced with strychinine
It is theorised that "[if] one was to acquire liquid lsd that you'd probably see small hallucinations floating in it... and probably the 8 gods, may be the only place where all of them would be present at the one time. "
To state the case boldly: LSD is simultaneously the best tool we have for mysticism, the best tool for artistic and scientific creativity, the best tool for sensualism, the best tool for psychological change and the best tool for accelerated learning. Note the word 'tool' - there is an implication that it must be handled properly. Just as picking up a spanner is not sufficient to fix a bicycle, swallowing a tab of acid is not sufficent to produce a mystical experience. A tool handled with ignorance is useless and fucking dangerous. To create a specific effect with LSD in any of the categories mentioned above requires a proper situation and intent. Dr Timothy Leary proposed the 'set and setting' hypothesis, which quickly became widely accepted among LSD researchers. It states that the trip will be determined by two variables: set and setting. 'Set' means the person's mindset and is divided into long-term set and short-term set. Long-term set includes the person's general inclinations and personality; an emotionally turbulent person will be likely to have an emotionally turbulent trip and an intellectual person will be likely to have an intellectual trip. Short-term set is your mood at the time of the trip; don't take LSD if you're upset. 'Setting' refers to the environment of the trip, of which the most important is the other people present. On Programming Psychedelic Experiences by Leary and Metzner is a guide to getting set and setting right.\ (The set and setting hypothesis must be understood. The psychedelic experience is not, as the campaigners who got mushrooms probited in Ireland claimed, "Russian roulette". A 'bad trip' is invariably the result of bad set and setting.)
Mysticism. The use of LSD to produce mystical experiences is one of the most controversial and well-documented effects of the drug. To give just one example, the documentary The Beyond Within, linked to below, tells of an experiment conducted among theological students using LSD to produce religious experiences. Scholars compared the accounts of the experiences on LSD to the classical spiritual accounts of saints and found that the experiences caused by LSD were, by the church's criteria, valid experiences of God.
Personal change. Most psychologists (certainly most psychoanalysts) believe that behaviour is controlled largely by imprints created at a young age. The rather grim conclusion of psychologists is that what happens to you before the age of 4 determines your attitutes for the rest of your life - and there's nothing you can do about it. What Timothy Leary thought is that new imprints could be made during psychedelic experiences. Robert Anton Wilson has said, "I know about 150 psychologists - at least - who will say in private that they agree with Leary that LSD is the most powerful behaviour-change agent ever discovered, accelerates psychotherapy tremendously, may be the most beneficial drug ever discovered - they will never say it in public."\ According to Dr. Duncan Blewett, the discovery of LSD "marked the most significant finding ever made in the social sciences, for science at last produced a method of instilling motivation which was not based upon fear or manipulation".\ Also, LSD has shown a great deal of promise in the treatment of autism. Here's the research. It has been documented as curing long-term cases of impotence.\ Research by our man Oracle has shown that small quantities of LSD (like a quarter of a medium-strength tab) enable you to stay up all night and write deadly college essays. In fact, if one substitutes one's morning cup of coffee for a quarter-tab, you may find that the boost of creativity and motivation enables you to accomplish anything you want.
Art is one area where LSD undisputably boosts human capacity. Very few of the great artists of the past hundred years have not used drugs to enhance creativity.
Science. Because of how it creates new ways of thinking and makes people see and imagine new things, LSD can be used by scientists to come up with new theories. This is how Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA.
Sensualism. LSD has an effect of making aesthetic and sensual phenoma more intense. This is the basis of normal recreational use; people take acid to appreciate Pink Floyd, Michaelangelo Antonioni and the delicious grace of moving one's hand. LSD is one of a very small number of effective aphrodisiacs known.
Learning. This chapter from LSD: The Problem Solving Psychedelic by Stafford and Golightly includes an account of someone who learnt two years worth of German within one acid trip. I propose to you the testable hypothesis that if you acquire the knack of some physical skill - say juggling - on acid, you will not lose it afterwards.
- account of an LSD experience (accidental ingestion!)
- 'LSD: The Beyond Within'. Excellent BBC documentary.
- 'The Psychedelic Experience' by Leary, Alpert and Metzner.