what is it?
LSD or acid (lysergic acid diethylamide) is the most commonly used hallucinogen (also known as psychedelics). It is considered a typical hallucinogen causing similar effects to other hallucinogens like mescaline, psilocybin (mushrooms), and ibogaine. LSD became popular in the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s.
Psilocybin (mushrooms) is produced synthetically or extracted from the psilocybe mexicana mushroom and other mushroom species. It is chemically related to LSD. The drug is most often sold in the mushrooms themselves and are known by names like "psychedelic mushrooms," "magic mushrooms," and "'shrooms."
how are they used?
LSD is usually taken by ingesting small tabs of paper (frequently placed under the tongue) which have been soaked in the liquid form of the drug then dried. In rare cases, it is taken in a liquid, gelatin, or tablet form. Sometimes a dose is soaked into sugar cube. Doses range from 20 to 100 micrograms now, though in the 1960s they ranged from 100 to 200 micrograms. Because LSD is produced illegally, it is difficult to know how strong a dose is. The effects of the drug begin in about 30 minutes and last up to 12 hours. It can be very difficult to sleep is LSD has been taken in the last 6 hours.
Usually taken orally, psilocybin (mushrooms) is found in dried or fresh mushrooms or as a powder in capsules. It is sometimes brewed into a tea. Typical doses range from 4 to 10 milligrams, but are hard to control because the active amount of hallucinogens in mushrooms differ widely according to the genus, strength, and condition (fresh and dried) of the mushrooms.
why do people take it?
LSD, like other hallucinogens, produces a distortion in the user's sense of reality, including images, sounds, and sensations that do not really exist. These hallucinations can be pleasurable and for some people even intellectually stimulating, but they can also be disorienting or disturbing and result in a negative emotional experience (bad trip). It is difficult to determine what kind of an experience a person will have on LSD because the same person can have very different experiences each time. As with all drugs, but especially with LSD, a user's experience is shaped by her previous drug experience, expectations, setting, as well as the neurological effects of the drug.
Mushrooms have been taken in religious rituals in indigenous cultures in Mexico and Central America for thousands of years. Recreational users today take them as a hallucinogen that is considered gentler and more natural (less chemical) than LSD. Users report feelings of mild euphoria and tingling physical sensations. They also report increased sensitivity to music and visual sensations.
Small doses (4 to 8 mg.) produce effects within half an hour which continue for 4 to 5 hours and may include mental and physical relaxation, tiredness, a sense of separateness from surroundings, feelings of physical heaviness or lightness, mood swings and perceptual distortions.
What are the short term consequences of taking it?
The most common dangers of LSD result from bad trips, including terrifying thoughts and feelings, despair, fear of losing control, and fear of death. These problems are especially common and severe in people with underlying mental problems like severe depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disease. Some fatal accidents have also occurred among users who could not perceive the reality of their situation. They hallucinate safe situations when they are actually in danger or are unable to judge distances. You should never operate machinery or drive cars while taking LSD.
Problems that might occur include:
- Extreme changes in behavior and mood; person may sit or recline in a trance-like state
- Chills, irregular breathing, sweating, trembling hands
- Changes in sense of light, hearing, touch, smell, and time
- Nausea, especially in the first two hours
- Increase in blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar
- Fatigue the next day
Misidentification is one of the biggest dangers to taking psilocybin mushrooms. It is difficult to know if the mushrooms are psilocybin mushrooms because poisonous mushrooms also cause hallucinogenic effects. Signs that the mushrooms are toxic include stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea. Poisonous mushrooms can even lead to death.
It is also difficult to determine what genus of mushroom you have and the dose of active hallucinogen each mushroom contains. To reduce the risk of a dangerous experience, it is safer to take a small amount and wait for its effects to be felt. In some cases, hallucinating can be unpleasant or even terrifying and the memory of this intense fear can remain with the person for life. A bad trip can occur at any dose. Signs of a bad trip include anxiety, confused or disordered thinking and panic.
At doses of 13 mg or more, users' perceptions become altered, and they develop the same symptoms as an LSD user. They also might experience facial flushing, sweating, a slowed sense of time, and the sense that they are separate from their bodies. At these higher doses some of the warning signs of a potential overdose include:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Numbness of the tongue, lips, or mouth
- Shivering or sweating
Remember never to drive on psilocybin or any other hallucinogen. Operating machinery while under the influence of reality-altering substances is extremely dangerous.
are there any long term consequences for taking it?
Hallucinogens can cause extreme, long-lasting adverse neuropsychiatric effects, like flashbacks (post-hallucination perceptual disorders), relatively long-lasting psychoses, severe depression or shizophrenia-like syndromes, especially in heavy or long-term users or in people with an underlying mental illness.
Some of the long-term problems associated with chronic or heavy LSD use are:
- A person can experience rapidly changing feelings, immediately and long after use.
- Chronic use may cause persistent problems, depression, violent behavior, anxiety or a distorted perception of time.
- Large doses may cause convulsions, coma, heart/lung failure or ruptured blood vessels in the brain.
- "Flashbacks" may occur long after use.
Some users experience such extremely unpleasant hallucinations that the fear of that experience remains with them for life. Users with a history of mental illness should not take hallucinogens, including psilocybin, because they can trigger or aggravate conditions like schizophrenia, mania, or depression.
IS THERE ANY WAY TO REDUCE THE RISK OF HAVING A BAD TRIP?
Experiences with hallucinogens are heavily influenced by environment. Here are some ways to reduce the risk of having a bad trip:
- Make sure you take it with someone you know and trust, preferably someone who knows how strong the effects can be.
- Make sure you are somewhere where you feel safe, secure and comfortable.
- Avoid taking hallucinogens if you are upset, feeling low or insecure--this could lead to a bad trip.
- Avoid taking more. The effects come on stronger after a while, and you could end up having a much stronger trip than you can handle.
- If you're having a bad time avoid flashing lights and visuals, get a friend to take you to a safe, calm space.
is lsd or psilocybin illegal?
Yes, both are illegal and its possession, use, and sale carry heavy prison sentences and fines and disciplinary consequences at UCSC. Please see the UCSC Student Conduct Handbook for more information.
HOW DO I HELP A FRIEND WHO'S HAVING A BAD TRIP?
It is important to make your friend feel safe and comfortable, usually away from other people, visual stimulation, or noises. Speak in a soothing voice to them and reassure them that their bad emotions, sensations, and visions are just the effects of the drug and will wear off in time. If your friend is inconsolable or seems violently agitated, then seek medical help right away. Call 911.
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 website contains information about different ways to help them.