Council on Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention Services

620 W. Washington Street, Geneva, NY  14456      (315) 789-0310
























LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is one of the major drugs making up the hallucinogen class. LSD
was discovered in 1938 and is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It is manufactured
from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

LSD, commonly referred to as "acid," is sold on the street in tablets, capsules, and, occasionally,
liquid form. It is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste and is usually taken by mouth.
Often LSD is added to absorbent paper, such as blotter paper, and divided into small decorated
squares, with each square representing one dose.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that the strength of LSD samples obtained currently
from illicit sources ranges from 20 to 80 micrograms of LSD per dose. This is considerably less
than the levels reported during the 1960s and early 1970s, when the dosage ranged from 100 to
200 micrograms, or higher, per unit.

Health Hazards

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. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30 to 90 minutes after taking it. 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.

Users refer to their experience with LSD as a "trip" and to acute adverse reactions as a "bad trip."
These experiences are long - typically they begin to clear after about 12 hours.

Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of
insanity and death, and despair while using LSD. Some fatal accidents have occurred during states
of LSD intoxication.

Many 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. Flashbacks usually occur in people who use hallucinogens chronically or have an underlying personality problem; however, otherwise healthy people who use LSD occasionally may also have flashbacks. Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use. LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression. It is difficult to determine the extent and mechanism of the LSD involvement in these illnesses.

Most users of LSD voluntarily decrease or stop its use over time. LSD is not considered an
addictive drug since it does not produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior as do cocaine,
amphetamine, heroin, alcohol, and nicotine. However, like many of the addictive drugs, LSD
produces tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take progressively higher
doses to achieve the state of intoxication that they had previously achieved. This is an extremely
dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug. NIDA is funding studies that focus on the neurochemical and behavioral properties of LSD. This research will provide a greater understanding of the mechanisms of action of the drug.

Extent of Use

Monitoring the Future Study (MTF)*

Since 1975, MTF researchers have annually surveyed almost 17,000 high school seniors
nationwide to determine trends in drug use and to measure attitudes and beliefs about drug abuse.
Over the past 2 years, the percentage of seniors who have used LSD has remained relatively stable.
Between 1975 and 1997, the lowest lifetime use of LSD was reported by the class of 1986, when
7.2 percent of seniors reported using LSD at least once in their lives. In 1997, 13.6 percent of
seniors had experimented with LSD at least once in their lifetimes. The percentage of seniors
reporting use of LSD in the past year nearly doubled from a low of 4.4 percent in 1985 to 8.4
percent in 1997.

In 1997, 34.7 percent of seniors perceived great risk in using LSD once or twice, and 76.6 percent
said they saw great risk in using LSD regularly. More than 80 percent of seniors disapproved of
people trying LSD once or twice, and almost 93 percent disapproved of people taking LSD

Almost 51 percent of seniors said it would have been fairly easy or very easy for them to get LSD
if they had wanted it.

LSD Use by Students, 1997:
Monitoring the Future Study

  8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Ever Used 4.7% 9.5% 13.6%
Used in the Past Year 3.2% 6.7% 8.4%
Used in the Past Month 1.5% 2.8% 3.1%

National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA)**

NHSDA reports the nature and extent of drug use among the American household popula tion aged 12 and older. In the 1996 NHSDA estimates, the percentage of the population aged 12 and older who had ever used LSD (the lifetime prevalence rate) had increased to 7.7 percent from 6.0
percent in 1988. Among youths 12 to 17 years old, the 1996 LSD lifetime prevalence rate was 4.3
percent, and for those aged 18 to 25, the rate was 13.9 percent. The rate for past-year use of LSD
among the population ages 12 and older was 1 percent in 1996. Past-year prevalence was highest
among the age groups 12 to 17 (2.8 percent) and 18 to 25 (4.6 percent). The rate of current LSD
use in 1996 for those aged 18 to 25 was 0.9 percent, and it was 0.8 percent for 12- to 17-year-old

*MTF is an annual survey on drug use and related attitudes of America's adolescents that began
in 1975. The survey is conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and
is funded by NIDA. Copies of the latest survey are available from the National Clearinghouse for
Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.

**NHSDA is an annual survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration. Copies of the latest survey are available from the National Clearinghouse for
Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.





Ontario County (Central Office):   620 W. Washington Street, Geneva (315) 789-0310
Schuyler County:  Mill Street Center, Watkins Glen (607) 535-8264
Seneca County:  49 Fall Street, Seneca Falls (315) 568-9869
Wayne County:  165 E. Union Street, Newark  (315) 331-5957
Yates County:  218 Lake Street Plaza, Penn Yan (315) 536-2435




Drug Abuse Prevalence Fact Sheet in NYS  (Click Here)
What is Chemical Dependency ? (Click Here)
Drugs on the Internet (Click Here)
Parents, Teens Parties and the Law (Click Here
Parents: Take the Family Pledge (Click Here)

Alcohol Cocaine Club Drugs Ecstasy
Hallucinogens Heroin Inhalants Marijuana
Meth Steroids PCP Over-the-Counter






Medical Aspects of Drug Use
Professional Development Programs
Alcohol/Drug Primer
AIDS: The Alcohol/Drug Connection
Effective Parenting For Drug Prevention
Talking With Your Kids About Drugs
Parenting Skills Programs
Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin. Inhalants
Fetal Alcohol & Drug Effects (FADE)
Resisting Peer Pressure
Smoking Cessation Program
Anger Resolution
Stress Management
Health and Wellness
The Treatment System
Community Prevention
Children of Alcoholics
The Process of Recovery
Risk and Protective Factors
Safe Homes Projects
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