LSD

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An informative essay about a life experience.

Submitted: May 04, 2011

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Submitted: May 04, 2011

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LSD

Adam Boshart

September 27th, 2010. "The smile can’t be wiped from my face. With eyes as wide as grapefruits, my shifty vision dials in on everything in its path. I notice the radiant smiles of my two friends. They are feeling it too. Trees, clouds and blades of grass pop out with astounding clarity as I picture the small pinkish squares of blotter paper in my fingers as I placed them underneath my tongue. Each and every thought in my mind seems to come full circle. That’s when it hits me...those tiny pink squares of paper contained LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide). From what I have heard, LSD is one of the strongest psychological substances in the world. In the next 12 hours I will experience the world in a way I never have before. I’m ready. I just want to dance..."

April 19th, 1943. Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was five years into a project that would eventually change the world. Nearly an hour after conducting a self-experiment with the substance, he decided to call it a day and hopped on his bicycle to ride home. After embarking on his journey, he recalled a sudden, intense shift in perception. However, his condition worsened. Upon arriving home, he was having trouble with feelings of anxiety and the abstract thought that his next door neighbor was a malevolent witch. Hofmann regretted taking 250 micrograms of the synthetic hallucinogen (the confirmed threshold dose is 20 micrograms) as he was under the impression that the LSD had poisoned him and he was going insane.(erowid.org) But when a doctor on house call diagnosed him with nothing wrong but a pair of dilated pupils, he began to accept that he was in fact completely fine. As time went on, he began to appreciate his altered state of mind stating: “...little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux...”(Hofmann) Albert Hoffman had uncovered one of the strongest mind altering substances known to man.

"Lights twinkle and sparkle. The way they light things intrigues me. Everything spirals and bubbles as if disturbed by ripples, but I know that solid things don’t ripple. Everything is broken down into simple patterns that are complex at the same time. Intensity in the music is rising and it’s hard to comprehend what’s going on. Joe, one of my friends has locked himself in the bathroom. It’s a bad trip. Sure I’m concerned, but the intensity of my trip is still rising. I have to be concerned with myself first, but more importantly I must stay calm. Still rising. Too intense to write..."

LSD (common street names include: acid, doses, tabs, hits, microdots, L, Lucy, and Sid), in particular, sticks out to a small percentage of people, young and old, as a very desirable drug.(erowid.org) It is sought after for a few reasons. One of them is the intense psychological effects that only seem achievable from acid. Effects of other psychoactive drugs may seem similar, but lack the intensity and clarity of an acid “trip”. A trip is best described as the mental journey that the drug sends the user on. A trip starts with feelings of anxiety and anticipation followed by a feeling of energy in the body and usually the inability to keep from smiling. Within twenty to sixty minutes of taking the drug, the user realizes that his or her surroundings are somewhat abnormal from how they are every other day. This observation intensifies as patterns emerge in simple things and lights seem to have an intense glow that brings out the natural beauty in colors. If enough acid is in the user’s system, they will notice intense rippling visuals, lose grasp of reality and may even have out of body experiences. After six to eight hours, the effects will begin to dim, but won’t be completely gone for another six hours. Another reason LSD is sought after by those who seem interested in it’s effects is the relatively cheap price tag compared to similar hallucinogenic drugs. In order to feel the desired effects of psylocibin mushrooms, the user must spend between thirty and fifty dollars. One dose of acid generally runs between ten and fifteen dollars, though sometimes a single “hit” can be upwards near $25. When bought in bulk, it comes on a sheet of blotter paper with 100 doses. A sheet of acid usually costs one or two dollars per hit.(erowid.org)

"Breathe. Finishing thoughts is nearly impossible. Before one is finished another sprouts. This sends me on a rollercoaster of confusion. Everything seems to come in continuous loops, repeating in similar patterns. It grows somewhat uncomfortable but if I just smile I can convince myself to enjoy the ride. Stunning new discoveries about my body and mind flash through my head. Each discovery grows more and more startling but beautiful. I start to wonder if I will ever feel normal again. Nearly naked, my friend angrily runs out of the bathroom and downstairs towards the front door on some sort of self-created mission. I’m in no shape to help, but our safeguard is more than capable and corrals him back inside. “Maybe we should tie him up”, I say, stupidly thinking that could be an actual solution. I know he will be ok, I just need to relax. The visuals continue to build. People are shades of pink and purple that seem to flow back and forth like ocean tides. I wonder if I’m pink too..."

Although nobody knows exactly how LSD works, it is known that it binds to the serotonin receptors in the brain. This allows the user’s imagination to run wild without being contained by what his or her brain already perceives as reality. Despite its intense power, the drug has very little effect on the rest of the body. Although the user may experience a body high, it is most likely just in their head. A threshold dose of LSD is around 20 micrograms, but a dose this small would be barely noticeable and most likely disappointing. For this reason, a usual dosage taken in order to achieve the desired effects consists of an amount that normally falls between 100 and 500 micrograms (.1 to .5 milligrams).(erowid.org) Therefore, a single dose more often than not has a mass smaller than a single grain of sand, which weighs between 0.67 and 23 milligrams.(Elert) The reason such a small amount is needed is because the diethylamine added to the lysergic acid (LSA) allows it to be absorbed into the body and brain more easily. Lysergic acid itself can have roughly similar effects, though not as strong. In order to achieve the effects from LSA, the user must ingest fifteen to thirty times more of the drug than LSD. A common way of synthesizing LSD is by reacting diethyamine with an active form of lysergic acid, which is commonly found in a fungus on rye, called ergot, or in morning glory seeds.(erowid.org) These simple ingredients in solution are usually dropped by a micropipette onto decorated blotter paper or into a sugar cube. When acid is made, it is made in large amounts in labs. This leads to its low street prices.

"My friend finally shakes off his rage and lays down on the bed. He tells me that he wants me to tell his parents that he loves them. Then he asks me, “If I go to sleep will I wake up?” Trying to reassure him I say yes but I beat around the bush and don’t tell him exactly what’s going on. He says something about being in purgatory but I can’t pay enough attention to know exactly what he was talking about. Turning over, he starts to focus on the wall. He won’t sleep. But at least he’s in a better state of mind, if not in a better place. At least I’m starting to regain a grasp on reality. I wander outside with Brian, another one of my friends that is tripping. I am amazed by my sense of touch. Wet. Dry. Wet. Dry. Wow..."

Due to the simple composition and desire to experiment with substances in the hippy era of the 1960’s, LSD became widely used in the United States. Around 1962, the drug started to spread like wildfire throughout America. Nearly epidemic rates of LSD abuse led to its prohibition as a Schedule I hallucinogen by the FDA in 1967.(erowid.org) This means in order to use, manufacture, buy or sell the drug, a license by the DEA is required. By 1970, it is estimated that between one or two million Americans had “tripped”. At this time, near Boston, Massachusetts, a single dose (usually on a sugar cube or in pill form) cost between one and seven dollars and contained more of the substance than is found on a tab today. Illegal usage continued through the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, and still continues today, though drastically less often. From 1975 to 1985, LSD use dropped from 7.2 percent to 4.4 percent of high school seniors. However in recent studies the percentage of abuse by students of the same age group was up to 5.6 percent.(erowid.org)

"Fresh air, clear skies, and a level head...what a relief. Being outside has never been so perfect. I can’t focus on one single star no matter how hard I try. Each time I look up I see them all as a whole twinkling in front of a galaxy that gets darker and darker as it gets further and further away. The lights have a strangely supernatural glow that causes colors to be clearer than they ever have before. The wet grass between my toes feels better than any carpet or rug ever could. I feel one with my surroundings. I feel complete. I can breathe deeply but softly all at once. It’s hard to understand why we were ever inside in the first place. By now, my friend realized he was alive and stopped staring at the Grateful Dead tapestry near the bed. Telling him what happened seems to tear him apart inside but at the same time it comforts him like a warm blanket. He is ready to continue the journey with us for the rest of the night. The sky starts brighten little by little and clouds roll in majestically. The sun is not up yet, but it radiates pinkish purple on the newly born clouds. The visuals are greatly diminished now, but everything still seems to glow beautifully. Everything is so right..."

It is commonly assumed that because it is abused so often, there are no practical uses for LSD. However, there are a few. Practical uses for LSD include psychotherapy and remedies for alcoholism, pain and cluster headaches. In the 1950’s, studies showed that LSD as a treatment for alcoholism had a 50% success rate. That was 5 times higher than the success rate for Alcoholics Anonymous. In the 1960’s, LSD was used as an analgesic for chronic pain caused by cancer or other major trauma.(Grof) Other uses for LSD involve spiritual use and use for enhanced creativity. However, not all of the effects of this powerful hallucinogen are beneficiary. Sometimes, though rare, it can bring out extremely intense feelings of panic and anxiety that may lead to questioning ones existence and feelings of dying or death. These instances can lead to a “bad trip”. In order to prevent a bad trip, the person who intends to use LSD must be in a comfortable state of mind with a level head prior to ingesting the drug. People who have family histories of schizophrenia or early onset mental illness must be very cautious because LSD can trigger psychological and mental problems. Although acid is not generally addictive, some people are not generally normal and may find a necessity for repeated use. In this case, prolonged usage may lead to psychosis, which may or may not ever wear off or be cured. A phenomenon known as a “flashback” may occur where a person may unexpectedly fall back into a trip for a short time. Flashbacks are usually instigated by alcohol or cannabis use, sleep deprivation or stress. Another adverse effect caused by acid is Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). HPPD, a branch of post-traumatic stress disorder, causes a user to feel as though he or she is still in a trip, causing large amounts of distress. Fortunately, HPPD only occurs in a small percentage of genetically vulnerable users.(erowid.org)

"Luckily, in my instance, these unwanted effects seem impossible. By this time, my trip is more than half over (dictated by intensity, not time, because time seems unimportant). Watching the sky, my two friends and I try our best to communicate and elaborate on the revelations that took us by surprise. The visuals are just about completely gone, but the shear beauty of this world we take for granted still strikes me. I turn back and see Joe’s eyes well up with tears. I get a feeling deep inside as though we are connected somehow. Human conditions and communication still fascinate me as I still can’t seem to understand them. The crisp morning reminds me that fall is coming. I don’t remember how long we’ve been in the backyard, but as time seems to fly by, it reminds me of the tiny paper tabs of LSD and how powerful this drug really is. I realize what I had heard about acid was the truth. LSD is one of the most powerful psychoactive substances in the world..."(Boshart)

References Elert, Glenn. "Mass of a Grain of Sand." Hypertextbook.com. Web. 04 Oct. 2010.

"Erowid LSA Vault." Erowid. Web. 04 Oct. 2010. .
"Erowid LSD (Acid) Vault." Erowid. Web. 04 Oct. 2010. .
Grof, Stanislav, M.D. "History of LSD Therapy." DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy. Web. 04 Oct. 2010. .


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