Scare tactics from the 1960s and 1970s still abound surrounding LSD use. Stories of users who believed they could fly and then died after jumping off multistory buildings still circulate, as well as stories that speak of permanent brain damage or ongoing “flashbacks.” While there may be extremely rare and isolated cases of these dangers, they are not common with LSD use, even higher doses than most users will take. Debunking the rumors is as important as relating the true danger of LSD use to those who seek information about this drug.
Early reports in the 1960s claimed evidence to cellular structure after LSD was used, creating the risk of birth defects in children born by users. This research was later seen to have been very limited in structure, allowing for little opportunity for replication in clinical settings. Since the research was conducted in very obscure circumstances, there was no validity found for this claim.
Clinical Use of LSD
Developed in a laboratory where research was conducted to test the possible uses of a fungus grown on rye, LSD was tested for decades for its benefits in treating various psychological problems. It’s hallucinogenic properties were first discovered by the man who synthesized the drug, Albert Hoffman.
Research on LSD was conducted by both drug companies and the US military. Few extreme side effects were seen with the drug in clinical trials. However, controlling the use of the drug became problematic in the 1960s when it began to become popular with the 1960s drug culture.
Research has begun to look at beneficial uses of LSD again over the last five years. Seeking hopeful treatments for Alzheimer's’ and other mental illnesses that have escalated with the aging Baby Boomer generation has created a new focus on psychedelic drugs for possible treatment options.
One use for which LSD has proven effective is in treatment of cluster headaches. Research has been promising in this arena, and clinical trials of the drug have been conducted on humans over the last few years, for the first time since they were stopped in the 1960s.
LSD for Recreational Use
The widespread popularity of the drug reached a peak in the 1960s into the mid-1970s. Beginning in the mid-1950s, research was conducted on many people, from celebrities to a U.S. President, LSD was tested and began to find a following. This spread to become recreational production and use of the drug by the early 1960s. Popularity continued into the early 1970s.
LSD has had several peak times of popularity, but none as powerful as the 1960s. Each generation seems to return to the use of psychedelic drugs as the young seek answers to spiritual and emotional questions. Use has continued despite legislation outlawing LSD in 1968. It remains the most popular of the psychedelic drugs.
Is LSD Addictive?
Frequent or long-term use of LSD has shown to increase the need for higher doses in those users. This is referred to as tolerance. Tolerance to LSD builds while the user takes the drug. After stopping LSD for even a couple of days, tolerance returns to the state where it was when use began. Stability, emotionally, physically and mentally, returns to homeostasis quickly.
Health Risks of Acid
Some people high on LSD may engage in dangerous behaviors, not understanding the difference between the altered state of their consciousness and that created by the drug. They may harm themselves or others while high, not being able to differentiate what is real. Under the influence of LSD, users have audio and visual hallucinations. Driving a car or operating equipment can be dangerous under these circumstances.
Other adverse LSD side effects can include confusion, paranoia and emotional breakdowns. LSD may have increased symptoms of mental illness for these users, allowing the illness to manifest more powerfully.
Behavioral and emotional dangers are the most often recognized for LSD. Severe anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks occur at high doses and are called “bad trips.” Most users express that they had bad trips due to the environment and people surrounding their use.
The other obvious danger of LSD lies in its production outside of clinical settings. Ingredients may be introduced to the product when it is made outside a controlled environment, increasing the risk of dangerous effects. Chemicals may be placed in the drug that are inherently damaging to the user.
Mixing LSD with other drugs increases the dangers of possible side effects. Those who take medications for treatment of mental illness, such as anti-depressant medications, anti-anxiety medications, central nervous system (CNS) depressants or stimulants may affect the user in dangerous ways.
Emotional Risks of LSD
LSD creates intense emotions for the user. These change rapidly and can overlap one-another. This may last for several hours after use, and continue for up to several days. Few users have reported ongoing emotional disruption. Those with underlying emotional problems may experience increased risk for emotional disregulation during and after LSD use.
Reports of users who have done serious emotional damage are few. Those that show validity are often experienced by users who either combined LSD with another substance or those who showed emotional instability prior to use. Some users may experience paranoia, panic attacks or high anxiety on the drug. Most of these symptoms will subside when the user “comes down” from its effects.