Last updated: September 25, 2023
LSD is the acronym for lysergic acid diethylamide. It’s a semi-synthetic drug and it’s been around for decades. Those that use the drug recreationally experience a variety of mind-altering sensations that often result in using it again. Drug tests identify LSD, commonly called acid, in the system for varying amounts of time.
It was created in 1938 by a chemist working to discover a blood stimulant. Psychiatrists experimented with the hallucinogenic drug from the 1940s through the 1960s thinking it could be used to treat psychosis. They couldn’t discover any medical use for the drug though.
However, in the 1960s, Harvard psychologist, Timothy Leary, radically popularized the drug when he encouraged American college students to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Students ran with that idea and its use became widespread. In fact, LSD’s popularity quickly spread to the United Kingdom then throughout Europe.
How does LSD affect the user?
For the most part, users are attracted to this psychedelic drug because of its mind-altering effects. There’s been no supporting evidence that LSD has long-lasting effects on the brain, however, it sends users on quite a “trip” in the short-term.
Once the drug enters the brain, it affects the serotonin receptors and also changes the blood flow and electrical activity. These two components work together to change the way the user feels about himself, other people, and the world as a whole. While it often induces positive feelings and experiences, the drug affects others in a negative way.
The drug can be swallowed in capsule or liquid form. Some users drop the liquid onto sugar cubes to mask the bitter taste. However, the paper blotter method is a popular method used for distribution. It absorbs into the system by placing the paper on the tongue. Users begin to feel the effects between 20 to 90 minutes later. The peak experience occurs within two to four hours and can last for up to twelve hours.
Signs and symptoms
During an acid trip, people can have rapid changes in emotion, intense, but distorted, sensory experiences, and an inaccurate perception of time. Often the experience is pleasant but larger doses of the drug are known to produce the opposite reaction. A “bad trip” indicates someone experienced terrifying reactions to the drug at an extreme level. They include feelings of losing control, insanity, and even death. Delusional thinking and horrifying visual hallucinations can result in causing people to panic.
Moreover, sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. Additionally, after using LSD, it’s not uncommon to experience acute anxiety or depression. Flashbacks are also a possibility. They’re a recurrence of the effects of the drug and can happen days or even months after taking the last dose.
Here’s a list of the ways LSD can affect the user.
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated body temperature
- Dry mouth
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of appetite
Those who use LSD frequently quickly build up a tolerance to the drug. This means that they must ingest larger doses to achieve the effects. That’s nothing but a Catch 22 because larger doses often trigger the bad trips.
Unless regulated by the DOT or other federal or state entities, employers can use any of the drug testing methods available on the market to identify LSD. At the laboratory, all types of samples collected undergo an immunoassay (IA) test. If the samples test positive, they’re sent on to a second test. The gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) test confirms drug use.
Urine drug test
Employers use the urine test far more often than other drug testing methods. They’re the most cost-effective test on the market and the chosen method for federal drug testing programs. Technological advances coupled with increasingly sophisticated lab equipment continue to make it more difficult for cheaters too. It’s tough to adulterate or tamper with specimens in hopes of obtaining a negative result.
LSD is identified in the urine for up to four or five days after use.
Mouth swab drug test
Mouth swab tests collect saliva to be analyzed for drug use. Employers looking for recent drug use often use this option. They detect most drugs within minutes of use, however, the detection period doesn’t last as long as other methods.
Mouth swab tests, also called oral fluid tests, identify LSD for up to forty-eight hours after use.
Hair follicle drug test
The hair follicle test isn’t as cost-effective as the urine and mouth swab tests. However, its amazing ninety-day detection period causes many employers to overlook the cost factor. Drug metabolites stored in the hair follicle exit the body by growing out into the hair shaft. This leaves a permanent record of drug use.
Blood drug tests
Blood tests are rarely used for employee drug testing. They’re often reserved for post-accident situations. They identify LSD for up to 12 hours after using the drug.
Varied detection periods
The amount of time that drugs are detected in a person’s system is drug-specific. Of course, dosage amounts and frequency of use have something to do with it.
There are a few external factors that come into play as well.
- Age and overall health
- Body mass index
- Individual metabolism/genetics
Tune into life instead
LSD isn’t addicting and there has never been a report of death by overdose. However, users put themselves at risk of severe injury or death. This is due to the fact that the drug diminishes their ability to make sound judgments and see common dangers.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists LSD at a Schedule 1 on the controlled substances list. Drugs listed as Schedule 1 contain the following characteristics:
- They carry a high potential for abuse.
- There is currently no medical use for the drug in the United States.
This psychedelic drug is far more dangerous than Timothy Leary led young people to believe when he encouraged them to become enlightened. Continued education about the dangers of drug abuse is the way to enlighten the public in the truest sense of the word. Giving people the tools needed to make informed decisions could eventually turn the tide of drug abuse.