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Has anyone ever told to pop the magic pill? Just like Alice in Wonderland, in a matter of 30 minutes, you'll fall into a rabbit hole. Your trip will last more than 8 hours and then: voila. welcome back to the real world.

Has anyone ever told to pop the magic pill? Just like Alice in Wonderland, in a matter of 30 minutes, you'll fall into a rabbit hole. Your trip will last more than 8 hours and then: voila. welcome back to the real world.

But it is not as simple as that: it is much more unpredictable! Most people do come back after a crazy night on LSD, but some stay on their trip forever.

Let's look deeper into the world of hallucinogen drugs, and try to understand LSD's effects on body and mind.

Definition of LSD

LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide, which is one one of the major drugs making up the hallucinogen class of drugs. LSD was discovered back in 1938, and is actually found in nature: as said above, LSD is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

(Ab)Use

LSD is typically delivered orally, not in the form of pills, as ecstasy for example, but most often on a substrate as absorbent blotter paper [1], which also makes it the easiest to transport and hide in front the police. Sometimes, substrate is used in a sugar cube or even gelatin.
Papers often have small images, and LSD is often called by those images. For example, blotter paper with small cycles are called cycler. Personally, I perceive this as an LSD legend. It is claimed that the name was given by or originates from LSD 'founder' Albert Hofmann. By the end of the day, in his laboratories he composed this magic substance, and since he was tired, he decided to finish earlier this day and go home. Some of the substance was left on his finger, and when he sat on his bike, hallucinations started to appear. Hence the name cycler.

Nevertheless, the hallucinogen LSD can also be absorbed in liquid form: like many other drugs, it can be administered by intramuscular or intravenous injection, or more commonly, in the form of eye-drops.[2]

An effective dosage for a (healthy) adult is 20 to 30 micrograms — an amount that would kill a 10-year-old child.  

History

LSD, a drug with various psychiatric uses, was introduced by Sandoz Laboratories and was first recognized as a therapeutic drug, which actually offered high promises.

However, in the hippy-era, the drug became very popular for recreational and spiritual use, which lead to the banning of the substance for medical as well as recreational and spiritual uses.

The effects of LSD

As said above, LSD belongs to the hallucinogen class of drugs. For those who don't know what hallucinogen drugs are, hallucinogen drugs are drugs that cause hallucinations (hallucinations are distortions in a person’s perception of reality). Thus, hallucinogen drugs disrupt the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The serotonin system is involved in the control of perceptual, regulatory and behavioral systems, which includes hunger, mood, body temperature, sexual behavior, sensory perception, and muscle control.[3]

When people take LSD, they see images, feel sensations and hear sounds, that they wouldn't  hear otherwise. Their reality on LSD is not real; it is only their reality. They see snow in the middle of July, see faces coming out of trees, think they can fly, or peel themselves because they think they are an orange. It can be fun on some level, but when crossing the line, there might be no return.[3]

Health hazards of LSD

First of all, the effects of LSD are unpredictable. LSD effects depend on the user's character, his or hers mood at the moment, surroundings, in which the drug is taken, and of course the user's expectations. The user never knows whether this will be a good or bad trip, and most of all, he or she never knows whether they will ever come back. This is particularly true for physically unstable persons. 
The first effect of LSD occurs 30 to 90 minutes after consumption. The most common and obvious physical sign is widely dilated pupils. Other physical signs are sleeplessness, elevated body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, appetite loss, dry mouth, sweating and even tremors.   

The mental sensations and feelings that LSD causes lead to much more dramatic changes than the physical signs. For example, a user's sense of time and place changes, sensations and emotions feel very different, and they may rapidly swing from one emotion to another. A person has no control over his or hers emotions — the person is on a trip and he or she goes wherever the trip is taking him/ her. 

As mentioned above, users refer to the LSD experience as a 'trip'. A trip is usually used to refer to a rather positive LSD experience. On the other hand, a bad trip can be terrifying! Users may hear horrible sounds, have feelings of insanity, and can have even fatal results. 'Bad trip' experiences are longer than 'good trips', but typically begin to clear after 12 hours. However, in some cases, users have mental signs for months, and most often they end up in mental hospitals: this is most common with psychically unstable people.

Flashbacks

Flashback is one of the post-effects of LSD abuse. Flashbacks do not occur necessarily, but they can: flashbacks come without warning and may occur within few days after LSD use or even after a few years after using LSD. A flashback is a recurrence of aspects of a person's experience, but without the user having taken the drug again.  

Flashbacks may occur even after one LSD experience, but it is more likely they will occur after long-term LSD abuse. Flashbacks may be experienced by healthy people or people with underlying personality problems. 

Some claim that LSD or flashbacks can cause schizophrenia or depression. The same statements were given for marijuana (ab)use. Personally, I wouldn't agree with that, as this has not been proven. However, I would agree that a psychologically unstable person, who is otherwise prone to depression or even schizophrenia, has a risk of triggering depression or even schizophrenia after using LSD.[4] Otherwise, it is really hard to prove the extent and mechanism of the LSD involvement in these illnesses.   

 

Addiction

LSD is not an addictive drug because it does not produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior, as do heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol or nicotine. But, may be additive of course on a psychological level.[5]

Nevertheless, like all other addictive drugs, LSD produces higher and higher tolerance levels: users must take higher doses to achieve the state of mind that they have experienced previously. As with any other (addictive) drug, this is a very dangerous practice.  

In conclusion, LSD experiences may range from ecstatic to horrifying. If a user is in a hostile or otherwise unsettling environment, effects are more likely to be unpleasant. On the other hand, a comfortable environment may result in a unique experience.

Some people may never have negative experiences while for others LSD effects on body and mind can be devastating.