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Last updated : June 24, 2017

What is LSD?

LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) is a synthetic chemical, made from a substance found in ergot, which is a fungus that infects rye (grain).1

LSD belongs to a group of drugs known as hallucinogens (also known as ‘psychedelics’). When small doses are taken, it can produce mild changes in perception, mood and thought. When larger doses are taken, it may produce visual hallucinations and distortions of space and time.2

Sometimes, what is sold as LSD can actually be other chemicals such as NBOMe or the 2C family of drugs (part of the new psychoactive substances). These can be quite dangerous, as their quality is inconsistent, plus the potential to take too much of these other substances can be fatal and a number of deaths have been reported due to people taking them.3

What it looks like

In its pure state, LSD is a white odourless powder. However, it usually comes in squares of gelatine or blotting paper that have been dipped or soaked in LSD.2 LSD is also sometimes sold as a liquid, in a tablet or in capsules.

Other names

Acid, trips, tabs, microdots, dots, Lucy.

How is it used?

LSD is usually swallowed, but it can also be sniffed, injected or smoked.1,4

Effects of LSD

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

LSD can affect everyone differently, based on:

  • Size, weight and health
  • Whether the person is used to taking it
  • Whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • The amount taken
  • The strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch)

The effects of LSD usually begin in 30 – 45 minutes and can last for 4 to 12 hours.3 The following may be experienced during this time:

  • Euphoria and wellbeing
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Seeing and hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Confusion and trouble concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fast or irregular heart beat
  • Increased body temperature
  • Breathing quickly
  • Vomiting
  • Facial flushes, sweating and chills1,2

Overdose

If you take a large amount, the negative effects of LSD are more likely to happen. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police.

  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Increased risk taking
  • Psychosis1

Bad trips

Sometimes you can experience a ‘bad trip’ , involving a disturbing hallucination. This can lead to panic and risky behaviour, like running across a road or attempting self-harm.1,2

Coming down

In the following days after using hallucinogens, the following may be experienced:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Depression1

Long term effects

People who regularly use LSD may eventually experience flashbacks. Flashbacks are hallucinations that occur weeks, months or even years after the drug was last taken. This can be disturbing, especially when the hallucination is frightening.2

Flashbacks can be brought on by using other drugs, stress, tiredness or exercise and usually last for a minute or two.2

In addition to flashbacks, regular use of LSD may eventually cause:

  • Psychological dependence on hallucinogens
  • Financial, work and social problems

Using LSD with other drugs

The effects of taking LSD with other drugs − including over-the-counter or prescribed medications − can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could cause:

  • LSD + ice, speed or ecstasy: can increase the chances of a bad trip and can also lead to panic5
  • LSD + alcohol: increased nausea and vomiting6

Tolerance and dependence

Tolerance develops rapidly to the effects of LSD. After the third or fourth consecutive days of taking LSD, no amount of the drug can produce the desired effects. However, after a short period of abstinence (about 3-4 days) normal tolerance returns.2

Withdrawal

Taking LSD regularly does not appear to result in physical dependence but there have been reports of psychological dependence occurring.1,2 People withdrawing from LSD may experience:

  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Reduced ability to experience pleasure

Getting help

If your use of LSD is affecting your health, family, relationships, work, school, financial or other life situations, you should seek help and support.

LSD and the law

Federal and state laws provide penalties for possessing, using, making or selling LSD, or driving under the influence.

LSD statistics

National

  • 9.4% of Australians aged 14 years and over have used hallucinogens one or more times in their life.7
  • 1.3% of Australians aged 14 years and over have used hallucinogens in the previous 12 months.7

Young people

  • Young Australians (aged 14–24) first try hallucinogens at 18.5 years on average.7
  • 2.8% of 12-17 year olds have tried hallucinogens such as LSD.8
References
  1. Upfal, J. (2006). The Australian Drug Guide. (7th ed.). Black Inc: Collingwood.
  2. Brands, B. Sproule, B. & Marshman, J. (Eds.). (1998). Drugs & drug abuse (3rd ed.). Ontario: Addiction Research Foundation.
  3. Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. (2012). LSD / Acid.
  4. Erowid. (2001). Ask Erowid.
  5. Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS). (2008). Drugs, LSD (acid, trips, tabs, A).
  6. University of California. (2013). Alcohol and LSD / Acid.
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2014). National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report 2013. Canberra: AIHW.
  8. White, V., & Williams, T. (2016). Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2014. Melbourne: The Cancer Council, Victoria.

 


Effects

chills, confusion, dilated pupils, euphoria, facial flushes, fast breathing, fast heart rate, feeling of wellbeing, hallucination, headache, increased body temperature, irregular heart beat, nausea, sweating, trouble concentrating, vomiting.

AKA

acid, dots, lucy, microdots, tabs, trips.