LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide, is a commonly abused hallucinogenic drug. It is made from lysergic acid, which comes from ergot, a fungus that lives on rye and other grasses. Despite the popular theory that LSD was found by accident, it was really discovered by Louis Pasteur. He was hired by a pharmaceutical drug company, and told to research on ergot. What he found was lysergic acid, which was used to make LSD. Sold as tablets, capsules, or in liquid form, LSD has been illegally sold on streets since 1960. Because ergot is not readily found in the United States, it is smuggled to LSD producers from Europe, Mexico, Africa, and Costa Rica. The difficulty of acquiring ergot, however, discourages many illicit manufacturers from producing LSD.
If the ergot fungus is obtained, only a small amount of it is needed to make a large amount of LSD. According to DEA publications only “25 kilograms of ergotamine titrate can produce 100 million dosage units.” Not only are the ingredients of LSD hard to find, but cooking it takes a lot of time. It takes days just to produce a few ounces of LSD. Therefore it is cooked in small batches. The crystallized LSD is converted into a gelatin squares and put in a prepared paper. Designs can then be drawn on the tablets to make them more appealing. Despite increasing production amounts of LSD, the dosage usually sold on the streets today is between 50 and 75 mg, compared to the original dosage in the 1960s. LSD has very unpredictable health hazards. (Crumpler, Teer, p 328) Like any other drug the greater the amount taken, the worse the effects. The user may not feel the effects of LSD from 30- 90 minutes after taking the drug. Physically, LSD dilates the pupils for a long period of time. It also raises the body temperature, heartbeat, and blood pressure. Tingling of toes and fingers is also a result of taking LSD. Even though death cannot occur from taking LSD, many LSD related deaths have been reported.
The main physical risk that LSD has on the body is the distortion of messages to the brain, especially messages related to vision. This can cause hallucinations and effects known as “hearing colors” and “seeing sounds.” Like many other drugs, the body builds a tolerance to LSD very quickly. For this reason, users must continually increase their dosage to get the desired effect. The increased dosages, as a result, harm the body to a greater extent. Common users of LSD experience weight loss and, as a result, become very thin and lose weight dramatically.
One other dangerous effect of using LSD is a flashback. Flashbacks are recurrences of images or effects that were experienced during a previous LSD administration and they can vary in frequency and duration. They can take place on impulse and without warning, or be triggered by the use of other drugs. These flashbacks can be anywhere from minutes to hours long. Some users, however, like the flashbacks and take LSD for this “free trip” of past experiences. (Leigh, Henderson, p 236) All of these effects of taking LSD are not very desirable. There is no good reason to take LSD. Taking everything into account, no one should ever use LSD.
Crumpler L., K. Teer; Pruitt, B. E.; Prothrow-Stith, Deborah, Health: Skills for Wellness., New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1997, p 328
Leigh A. Henderson, LSD: Still With Us After All These Years, Lexington Books, (1994), p 236-238