Other Drugs

LSD

What is LSD?

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is the most widely used hallucinogenic drug. It is also known as acid, blotter, or dots. The effects of LSD are unpredictable and depend on the amount taken; the person's personality, mood, and expectation; and the situation in which the drug is used. Effects are usually felt within 30 to 40 minutes after taking the drug. The LSD experience is often called a "trip" and can last up to 12 hours.

How is LSD used?

LSD is colorless, odorless, and has a slightly bitter taste. It can be found in colored tablets, liquid form, or thin squares of gelatin or blotter paper. In rare cases, it can be found soaked in sugarcubes or other edible solids. Most often, LSD is absorbed through the tongue on blotter paper or it is taken by mouth. However, the gelatin and liquid forms can be placed in the eyes. Currently, doses range from 20 to 100 micrograms, but because LSD is produced illegally, it is difficult to gauge how strong a dose is before consuming it.

Why do people take LSD?

Hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs are and have been used for a variety of reasons. Historically, hallucinogenic plants have been used for religious rituals to induce states of detachment from reality and precipitate “visions” thought to provide mystical insight or enable contact with a spirit world or “higher power.” More recently, people report using hallucinogenic drugs for more social or recreational purposes, including to have fun, help them deal with stress, or enable them to enter into what they perceive as a more enlightened sense of thinking or being.

What are the short-term effects or risks of taking LSD?

The effects of LSD are unpredictable and depend on the amount taken; the person's personality, mood, and expectation; and the situation in which the drug is used. Effects are usually felt within 30 to 40 minutes after taking the drug. The LSD experience is often called a "trip" and can last up to 12 hours.

LSD can cause:

  • Dilated pupils, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and dry mouth.
  • Changes in sensations and feelings. The person may feel several different emotions at the same time or rapidly swing from one emotion to another. Also, the person may confuse sensations and feelings, such as "hearing" colors or "seeing" sounds.
  • Loss of time. The person may feel that time is standing still or have a distorted sense of time.
  • Delusions and visual hallucinations, if taken in large doses. Delusions are false beliefs, and hallucinations are seeing and hearing things that are not present.

Are there long-term consequences to taking LSD?

A "bad trip" may contain terrifying thoughts, feelings, and fears. Also, LSD can cause flashbacks, in which the person suddenly relives certain aspects of the experience without having taken the drug. Flashbacks may occur a few days or more than a year after use of LSD.

In addition, serious psychiatric conditions can develop after even one use of LSD. The cause of these effects is not known. These conditions include:

  • Drug-induced psychosis. Psychosis is a serious condition in which the person has lost the ability to recognize reality, think rationally, or communicate with others. They may have dramatic mood swings, ranging from being extremely overactive (mania) to severe depression. Psychosis from LSD may last for years.
  • Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD). With HPPD, the person has flashbacks in which they experience recurrences of some of the sensory distortions that occurred while under the influence of the drug. They may have the same flashback for years after stopping use of LSD.

How do I help a friend who's having a bad trip?

It is important to make your friend feel safe and comfortable. Speak to them in a soothing voice and tone and reassure them that their emotions, sensations, and visions are just the effects of the drug and will wear off in time. Additionally, it would be helpful to keep them away from other people they do not know, visual stimulation, and loud or abrupt noises. If your friend is inconsolable or seems violently agitated, then seek medical help right away. Call EMS at 401.863-4111.

Is LSD addictive?

LSD is not considered an addictive drug. Although addiction to hallucinogens is rare, poly-drug addicts (people who are addicted to several drugs) frequently abuse hallucinogens. However, LSD does produce tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take higher doses to achieve the same effects. This is very dangerous given the unpredictability of the drug and dose. Cross-tolerance between LSD and other hallucinogens has been reported. 

Is LSD illegal?

Yes, LSD is illegal and it is currently a Schedule I drug (drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse). Its possession, use, and sale carry heavy prison sentences and fines, as well as disciplinary consequences at Brown. See the Brown University Policy on Drugs on the Student Rights and Responsibilities web site. 

How do I help a friend who's having trouble with drugs or alcohol?

If you are concerned about a friend's drug or alcohol use, this page contains information about different ways to help them. 

Related Links

Dance Safe
Dance Safe promotes health and safety within the rave and nightclub community. The website has drug information, e-news archives, information on testing kits and features like Your Brain on Ecstasy.

National Institutes of Health Club Drug Site   
Provides trends and statistics, research reports and health information on club drugs.

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