LSD: lysergic acid diethylamide

Back to Brochures

What Is LSD?
Lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, is an hallucinogenic drug that effects the mind, feelings, mood, senses, and experiences of the user. LSD is sold in a variety of forms. On sugar cubes or as "Blotter" (LSD on squares of paper). "Microdot" is a tiny ball of compressed LSD. Tablets are called "Barrels" or "Domes" due to their shape. "Window Pane" is LSD on a tiny gelatin square.

Why Do People Use LSD?
People give many reasons for trying LSD, ranging from curiosity to a desire to "know oneself". Though some people who have taken LSD say they feel more creative, research has failed to show significant changes. In some cases, LSD may actually reduce creativity.

What Are The Effects Of LSD?
The LSD user may have an increased awareness of sight, sound, colors and textures. LSD tends to cause the user to "see" sounds and "hear" colors or lights. Usually time seems to move very slowly, but it may appear to quicken or stop all together. LSD experiences are intense and changeable. A trip that begins as pleasant can suddenly become frightening. During a "bad trip", the user may feel lost, alone and out of control. The user may experience a feeling of power or wisdom, or a fear of other people. Because hallucinogens are so unpredictable, there's no way to know how a person will react. Feelings of invincibility may cause users to take risks leading to accidents. When driving a vehicle, distances may seem distorted and the user could run into a pedestrian who seems far away. 

A user may be under the influence of the drug for days or weeks at a time, and may commit crimes or lash out violently. Months or even years after LSD use, some individuals experience confusing, frightening "flashbacks".

What Is A "Bad Trip"?
Bad trips are panic reactions to LSD that include severe anxiety and a fear of losing control. Normal judgments are distorted, so there's a great danger of injury to self and others. The user may feel very frightened and paranoid when surrounded by noise, people or glaring lights. Psychotic episodes can last weeks or months and usually require hospitalization or prolonged treatment.

What Is A "Flash Back"?
A "flashback" is a recurrence of the LSD experience days or months after the last dose. It can be spontaneous or invoked by stress, by medications, by the use of street drugs, or due to a mental "cue" associated with a past trip. Although flashbacks usually last no longer than 90 minutes, they can seem much longer.

What Are The Signs That Someone May Be Using LSD?
The user's entire personality may undergo extreme change lasting from 8 to 12 hours. The person may turn violent, be indifferent to surroundings or describe intense feelings of self-criticism or guilt. The individual may feel restless, be unable to stop talking and have difficulty sleeping. People under the influence of LSD frequently believe that they have driven themselves crazy and will be unable to return to their normal state.

What Can Be Done When Someone Has A "Bad Trip" or "Flash Back"?
Reassurance from family members or friends can make the difference between a passing scare and a bad trip with long-lasting psychological scars. 

*Stay calm. If you are too agitated, the person will know it and feel even more panicky. 

*Be supportive. Remind the person that the effects of the drug will fade. 

*Use distraction. LSD users are highly suggestible, so get their attention off themselves and onto something else. 

*Change the setting. Sometimes just dimming the lights or turning down music is all it takes to calm an anxious LSD user. 

If the user becomes violent or in danger, contact your nearest hospital emergency room or emergency medical response team. Be sure to tell the truth. If the doctors or paramedics don't know what caused the bad trip, they may not know how to properly treat the problem.

Some Final Thoughts
Despite the risks, LSD is still around and widely used today. This may mean that a lot of people are still desperate for excitement, still starving for meaning in their lives…and they're still willing to try almost anything to get it, even if it comes exploding out of a piece of paper, a tiny chip of gelatin or a pellet of compressed powder.