LSD, or D-lysergic acid diethylamide, is a type of hallucinogen that changes a person’s thoughts, feelings and perception of themselves and the world around them. Commonly known as Acid, Boomers, Doses, Microdots, Purple Haze and Sugar Cubes, people who take LSD and other hallucinogens can experience sensations, such as seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling, things that may appear to be real, but really aren’t. These are called hallucinations.
Commonly found in a fungus that grows on rye and other types of grains, LSD is white or clear, odorless and tasteless, although some people have reported a mild metallic taste. LSD is popularly consumed by dissolving into a liquid and transferred onto a “blotter,” or a small paper square. People can also inhale or inject LSD or put it on sugar cubes, gelatin sheets or microdot tablets that can be chewed or swallowed.
Many people in their late teens and early 20s take LSD at psychedelic music festivals, dance parties and underground raves. Some people who take LSD may combine it with other drugs. For example, “candy flipping” is when people take LSD with MDMA (or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine).
LSD’s effects are due to a disruption in the connection between nerves and the brain chemical serotonin, which is involved in the regulation of body temperature, appetite, mood, sleep, behavior, sexual behavior and muscle control. The drug also affects an area of the brain associated with the detection of stimuli from all over the body and makes people more sensitive of visual and other sensory stimuli.
The effects of LSD typically begin within 30 to 90 minutes after it is ingested by users and can last anywhere from four to 12 hours. Some short-term effects of LSD include:
- Increased respiration, body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate
- Intense feelings and sensory experiences
- Nausea and appetite loss
- Changes in perception (time passing by slowly)
- “Crossing over” of senses (e.g., “tasting colors”)
- Dilated pupils
- Sleep problems
- Concentration problems
- Feelings of detachment
Higher doses of LSD are associated with more serious effects, including paranoia, extreme anxiety, panic and psychosis. People can also have bad reactions to the drug, called “bad trips.” These are associated with disturbing hallucinations, poor judgment, sadness, confusion, panic and out-of-control behavior. Someone who has a bad trip might run into the middle of a busy highway or be more likely to harm themselves.
People may experience the following withdrawal symptoms on the days following LSD use:
- Muscle aches
- Body aches
- Sleep problems
- Suicidal thoughts
- Memory less