What is it?
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a synthetic (man-made) drug that has been abused for its hallucinogenic properties since the 1960s. If consumed in a sufficiently large dose, LSD produces delusions and visual hallucinations that distort the user's sense of time and identity. LSD typically is sold as a liquid (often packaged in small bottles designed to hold breath freshening drops) or applied to blotter paper, sugar cubes, gelatin squares, and tablets.
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LSD is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.
Originally manufactured as an IV anesthetic in 1950, PCP use in humans was discontinued because of its intensely negative psychological effects. LSD users can also experience flashbacks, which are when the original drug's effects suddenly reoccur up to a year after the initial use. Because flashbacks can occur without warning, they can cause significant distress or impairment, especially if this occurs in an uncomfortable or dangerous setting such as at work, school, or while driving. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings of despair, fear of losing control, or fear of insanity and death while using LSD. PCP is addictive — its repeated abuse can lead to craving and compulsive PCP-seeking behavior, despite severe adverse consequences.
Side effects: The effects associated with LSD use are unpredictable and depend upon the amount taken, the surroundings in which the drug is used, and the user's personality, mood, and expectations. Some LSD users experience a feeling of despair, while others report terrifying fears--of losing control, going insane, or dying. Some users have suffered fatal accidents while under the influence of LSD.
Short-term effects: LSD users often have flashbacks, during which certain aspects of their LSD experience recur even though they have stopped taking the drug. In addition, LSD users may develop long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression.
Long-term effects: Two of the long-term effects of LSD are types of hallucinations, known as HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder) and psychosis. HPPD produces repeated flashbacks to previous events, while psychosis disorders often trigger behavioral changes or violent mood swings. While these are the symptoms associated with long-term LSD use, the exact causes of these symptoms are not known.
Scope of Drug
Individuals of all ages use LSD. Data reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicate that an estimated 20.2 million U.S. residents aged 12 and older used LSD at least once in their lifetime. The survey also revealed that many teenagers and young adults use LSD--742,000 individuals aged 12 to 17 and 4.5 million individuals aged 18 to 25 used the drug at least once.
LSD use among high school students is a particular concern. More than 8 percent of high school seniors in the United States used the drug at least once in their lifetime, and nearly 4 percent used the drug in the past year, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Survey.