Lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, LSD-25, or acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family. Its unusual psychological effects, which include visuals of colored and crawling geometric patterns, and a sense of time distortion have made it one of the most widely known psychedelic drugs. It has been used mainly as an entheogen, a tool to supplement various practices for transcendence, including in meditation, psychonautics, art projects, and (formerly legal) psychedelic therapy, and as a recreational drug. Formally, LSD is classified as a hallucinogen of the psychedelic type.
LSD was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938 from ergot, a grain fungus that typically grows on rye. The short form LSD comes from its early code name LSD-25, which is an abbreviation for the German “Lysergsäure-diethylamid” followed by a sequential number.
LSD is sensitive to oxygen, ultraviolet light, and chlorine, especially in solution, though its potency may last for years if it is stored away from light and moisture at low temperature. In pure form it is colorless, odorless, and mildly bitter.
LSD is typically delivered orally, usually on a substrate such as absorbent blotter paper, a sugar cube, or gelatin. In its liquid form, it can be administered by intramuscular or intravenous injection. The threshold dosage level needed to cause a psychoactive effect on humans is between 20 and 30 µg (micrograms).
Introduced by Sandoz Laboratories as a drug with various psychiatric uses, LSD quickly became a therapeutic agent that appeared to show great promise. However, the abuse of the drug in Western society during the mid-twentieth century led to a political firestorm that resulted in the banning of the substance. A number of organizations—including the Beckley Foundation, MAPS, Heffter Research Institute and the Albert Hofmann Foundation—exist to fund, encourage and coordinate research into its medicinal uses.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports that LSD retail prices range between €5 and €11 per unit in most European countries.
The effects of LSD are unpredictable.They depend on the amount taken, the user’s personality, mood, and expectations, and the surroundings in which the drug is used.The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. Sensations and feelings change much more dramatically than the physical signs.The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another.If taken in a large enough dose, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations.The user’s sense of time and self changes.Sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds.These changes can be frightening and can cause panic.
Some LSD users experience flashbacks, recurrence of certain aspects of a person’s experience without the user having taken the drug again.A flashback occurs suddenly, often without warning, and may occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use.Most users of LSD voluntarily decrease or stop its use over time. LSD is not considered to be an addicting drug because it does not produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior like cocaine, amphetamines, heroin, alcohol, or nicotine.