World History

How does LSD affect your mind?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is a hallucinogen that affects your psyche if you take it. It is so potent that it can lead users to physical violence. In any case, it will affect your mind's perception of the world around you. If that perception is positive or enjoyable, you'd be said to be on a good trip. However, it's just as likely that the world created by LSD while you're high is scary, dark and dangerous. When this happens, it's described as a bad trip. Unfortunately, LSD remains dangerous because you can't choose whether you'll have a good trip or a bad trip before you take the hallucinogen.

    LSD first was discovered in 1938. The lysergic acid that it's manufactured from is found in a fungus called ergot that grows on rye and other grains. A number of stories exist about how unwilling participants in the CIA's 1950s LSD experiments were negatively affected by the drug. One, an Army scientist, was given a spiked drink. He suffered from paranoid delusions, even after the drug wore off. Eight days after he was given the LSD, he was dead. Originally, it was thought he jumped out a window, but there was some evidence that he may have been hit over the head first. One woman, who had unknowingly been given LSD at one of the house parties the CIA held to drug people, reportedly spent the rest of her life in and out of mental hospitals.

    Today, LSD appears to be making a comeback. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in 2009 that teens ages 12 to 17 were using fewer prescription drugs but turning to hallucinogens more. Part of the increase was attributed to use of Ecstasy, but more than 800,000 teens reported using LSD in 2008 [source: CADCA]. LSD often is added to absorbent paper and divided into pieces that are decorated and sold by the dose. The trips created by the decorated papers, tablets or capsules can last up to 12 hours [source: NIDA].

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