LSD is one of the strongest hallucinogenic drugs. It can disrupt the normal functioning of your brain, possibly for the short term, and possibly for life.
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What is it?
LSD (or its full name: lysergic acid diethylamide) is a potent hallucinogen that dramatically alters your thoughts and your perception of reality.1 It was discovered in 1938 in a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD has a high potential for abuse.1
LSD disrupts how your nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin interact throughout the brain and spinal cord.1 By disturbing the normal functioning of the brain, LSD distorts visual judgment, sensations, moods and feelings. In high enough doses, hallucinations and delusions can occur.
These changes can quickly become frightening. Some users experience terrifying thoughts, feelings of despair, fear of losing control, fear of insanity, or even fear of death.1 When you’re completely unable to get a grip on reality, it becomes very easy for an unexpected, fatal accident to happen.
Flashbacks are a strange but relatively common experience of LSD users. Suddenly and without warning, a few days or even a year later, the brain can produce feelings and thoughts that replay the effects of being on the drug. In some people, these flashbacks can occur over and over again, causing a debilitating condition known as Hallucinogen-Induced Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD).1 Flashbacks or not, LSD users can also experience long-lasting psychoses (a complete loss of contact with reality) or severe depression.
The Bottom Line
LSD disrupts the normal functioning of the brain, making you see images, hear sounds and feel sensations that seem real but aren’t.1 Losing touch with reality can put you at risk of suffering dangerous or even fatal accidents, in addition to losing touch with yourself and the world around you.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts Hallucinogens- LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP.
Revised June 2009. Retrieved July 2011.