The Lsd Experience And Its Effects On The Brain

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LSD or acid is viewed as one of the most prominent drugs amongst hippies, ravers, and artists. By older individuals, this drug is deemed dangerous and harmful, yet it is has been tested amongst patients and results give them a different outlook on life. As stated by Albert Hofmann, the first person to consume this drug, taking LSD gave him, “A sensation of wellbeing and renewed life flowed through me… The world was as if newly created” (Carhart). This statement has then led to many new discoveries on the positive side effects of usage. Although these discoveries have been scientifically proven, it still remains in question whether or not this drug should be legalized for recreational use for the public. LSD allows certain patients experiencing mental problems and addiction with a unique psychedelic experience that can benefit them under correct regulation.

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Ever since the introduction of the drug, it opened a new form of self-acceptance upon individuals. In the film Explained, it explained the brief history of the humble beginnings of LSD. Since the application of the drug was fairly new and unknown, Hoffman decided to crowdsource the drug to researchers across the world to dissect what it could possibly be used for. It was not until the 1960s when the drug got in the hands of the Spring Grove Mental Health Facility with the intention to test if it could help with mental disorders. Patients were those who suffered from alcoholism, anxiety and the list goes on. Of course, these patients weren’t just digesting these drugs and hoping for the best, the researchers guided them, informed them of the possible side effects, and aided them in any way they can to make their trip go smoothly. After the whole process, it was discovered that those with these disorders became more relaxed and at ease with their problems. This then resulted in a spiral of research articles and experiments to be conducted.

However, research came to a halt around the time of the Vietnam War. Younger individuals who sided with the counterculture movement formed riots, protests, and other forms of rebellious acts against this war. This led to the government associating LSD to this movement and founding a new agency most notoriously known as the DEA. The drug then became illegal, further research was prohibited, and most importantly, a stigma created by the government deeming them dangerous and harmful to the body. The government claimed that users would experience, “chromosome damage, birth defects, fatal accidents, suicide, and psychosis” (Explained). This frightened the general public and gave LSD a bad name after that. Later on, as further research on the side effects of the drug became evident, it turned out that all of the things that the government said about it were false. According to the Journal of Psychopharmacology, it states that,

“We failed to find any associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and past year serious psychological distress, receiving or needing mental health treatment, depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts or behavior in the past year. Rather, lifetime use of psychedelics was associated with decreased inpatient psychiatric treatment.”

Furthermore, in the Human Hallucinogen Research: Guidelines for Safety, it states, “Hallucinogens generally possess relatively low physiological toxicity, and have not been shown to result in organ damage or neuropsychological deficits”. These claims state that the government falsely informed the public with a lack of evidence of proving what these drugs are capable of doing. Although the general public should not be persuaded in inducing drugs to experience an out of body experience, it should be regulated in place for those in actual need. As mentioned before, if an individual is to be prescribed LSD in the later future, they must be informed by a licensed therapist/doctor if it’s right for them.

After the government released the false information out to the public, one of the main concerns was if LSD could “scramble” their brain. When LSD is consumed, the beginning of the trip may vary based on individuals’ dosage and the person themselves. Once entered the bloodstream, it binds with the serotonin receptors, causing the brain to either turn on or off. This causes perceptions to be deceived, as well as seeing things that are considered abnormal. However, this is only a theory and it’s still being researched. In regards to what it does to you when you stop taking the drug for a regular user, in the short term, one may experience, “dilated pupils, increased heart rate, higher body temperature, sweating, dry mouth, and tremors. Mood swings, delusions, and hallucinations are present with higher doses”(Lautieri). However in the long term, one may very rarely experience flashbacks from usage.

Another question that may be a concern for first-time users could be whether or not this chemical could diminish memory or if it’s addictive. When under the influence of LSD, the area of the brain that controls memory is definitely altered. Individuals may or may not experience gaps in their memory whilst under the influence, but once the trip is down, regular LSD users may experience short-term memory. In the long-term, there’s a common myth that even after not using LSD for a while, there is a small probability that individuals may experience mild hallucinations/ gaps in memory in the future but nothing too major (Canyon). In regards to whether it’s addictive, it is again to the type of user the individual is. Considering that the high is so powerful, it is very difficult to get hooked. As stated in Lysergic acid diethylamide: a drug of ‘use’?, “Abuse of LSD is rather difficult; the drug produces such an absurd high that daily ingestion is almost impossible. Thus LSD use does not lead to physical dependence”. Although this is very hard to believe, it is very ironic that this drug with such psychedelic power has the ability to decrease the craving for addictions such as alcohol and cigarettes. LSD is a very powerful yet considerably new drug that still needs to be further researched. In order for one to get a better understanding as to how this drug is affected, interviewing individuals with experience provides a more descriptive explanation than from an article online.

I interviewed two of my friends that had experienced the drug’s effect and they are both quite similar. My friends were both in a calming setting and around people who were there from the start of consumption to the end of their trip. They weren’t necessarily tripping hard as those exaggerated actions as seen in movies, but we’re in a relaxing state. They both described that they couldn’t stop feeling their surrounding. One of them described how when they felt the grass, she could feel each individual blade of grass while the other friend described the feeling of their carpet as waves of soft texture. When it came to their perception, on objects they both said the same thing about how patterns became shaky at a subtle speed. As both of their trips ended, they felt a sense of relaxation and a clear mind. They both experienced a good trip with no crazy hallucinations. One of my friends stressed the importance of getting ready for a trip. Make sure to not eat anything too heavy because most people feel light at this state causing them to be nauseous. Another was to be surrounded by those who truly care about you and remaining in an area where it is calming and not surrounded by a lot of people. My friends aren’t regular users but they definitely would like to try it again in the future.

Unlike other psychedelics such as DMT, mushrooms, or psilocybin, LSD dosages are so powerful that even the tiniest droplet or microdose of the drug can immediately react with receptors in the brain and put individuals into a “trip” for roughly twelve hours. One must be fully prepared to indulge themselves and must be sure if it’s something they want to try. From what I have researched so far, it seems harmless and provides a reset to the human mind. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend it as a solution to dealing with problems considering that it could be tricky finding a dealer who hasn’t laced their product. LSD is far from being the next marijuana, but it may have a promising future ahead.

Works Cited

  • Carhart-Harris, R et al. “The Paradoxical Psychological Effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD).” Psychological Medicine 46.7 (2016): 1379–1390. Web.
  • Das, Saibal, et al. “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: a Drug of ‘Use’?” Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, SAGE Publications, June 2016,
  • Data on Mental Health Detailed by P.0. Johansen and Co-Authors (Psychedelics not linked to mental health problems or suicidal behavior: a population study). (2015). Mental Health Weekly Digest.
  • Dyck, E. (2015). LSD: a new treatment emerging from the past.(Medicine and society). CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 187(14), 1079–1080.
  • “Explained, Psycedelics.” Netflix Official Site, 12 Sept. 2019,
  • Johnson, M., Richards, W., & Griffiths, R. (2008). Human hallucinogen research: guidelines for safety.(Clinical report). Journal of Psychopharmacology, 22(6), 603–620.
  • percLautieri, Amanda. “LSD Withdrawal Symptoms, Signs, And Detoxification.” Withdrawal, Withdrawal, 4 Oct. 2019, www.withdrawal.net/lsd/.      
16 December 2021

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