In 1938, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was experimenting with the ergot fungi as part of a large-scale research program. This new drug was called lysergic acid diethylamide (a.k.a. LSD). In the past, LSD was researched for it’s potential medical benefits. Now, LSD (also referred to as acid) is used for mostly recreational purposes. Although Hofmann discovered LSD in 1938, it was not until 1943 when its full psychedelic effects where first noted by the inventor of the drug himself.
This article chronicles Hoffman’s life and his firsthand account of taking LSD. According to the article, Hofmann accidentally spilled a small quantity of LSD on his hand and he began experiencing the side effects of the drug. In Hoffman’s book, LSD: My Problem Child, he recounts how he had trouble speaking intelligibly and needed to be escorted home by his assistant after he dosed himself with LSD. Hofmann continues to describe his experience (a.k.a. an acid trip) and says the side effects included distorted vision, loss of sensation and perspective, and a “not unpleasant intoxication-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination”. Hofmann also said he saw nightmarish hallucinations and a kaleidoscope of images and colors before his experience ended.
Although LSD is not as widely used or as popular as it was during the 1960s or 1970s, it is still the preferred hallucinogenic drug for many people and its usage rate in the USA is still significant. LSD is often sold in tablets, capsules, and also in liquid form. When taken orally LSD is usually added to absorbent paper and then divided into doses for ‘acid trips’ which may last up to 12 hours. Although not considered addictive, those who use LSD may build up a tolerance causing them to take more of the drug to achieve the same state of intoxication. This can be a very dangerous practice due to the unpredictability of LSD.
LSD can also cause random flashbacks of ‘trips’. These flashbacks may occur often, even days or months after LSD was first taken. These random, unexpected flashbacks can cause severe distress for someone who is not aware that flashbacks may occur. Consistently taking LSD may lead to higher rates of flashbacks; these incidents are also known as Hallucinogen-Induced Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD).
The National Institute of Health cited one LSD study which estimates that 10% of all adults 26 years or older have taken LSD at some point and 5% of adults 18 to 25 years old have taken the drug at least once as of 2012. This number is not as high as the statistics for alcohol or marijuana, for example, but it still shows that LSD is one of the most prevalent hallucinogens in the country. The effects of LSD can be unpredictable and some people may have a very negative experience even the first time they try the drug.