Acid is human-made and developed from a substance found in ergot, which is a fungus. Its name is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and it can last up to 12 hours

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Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), or acid as it’s commonly known, is a potent, long-lasting psychoactive drug. In part, it’s derived from a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

The synthetic drug has a chemical structure similar to serotonin, a “feel-good” chemical in your brain.

When acid molecules land on serotonin receptors, they cause LSD’s well-known visual and physical effects. This includes color and shape distortions, hallucinations, and other psychedelic effects.

When the molecules nestle into the receptor pockets, amino acids within the receptor put a “lid” over the molecules. This traps the molecules in place.

The drug’s effects won’t begin to fade until the molecules are knocked off or come loose from the serotonin receptor. This can take anywhere from 6 to 15 hours. It all depends on the potency of the drug, your size, and any other medications you might be taking.

How long will it be detectable?

If you’re asked to complete an LSD screening or drug test, traces of acid or its byproducts may be detectable in your urine for 1.5 to 5 days. The doctor may order a blood test, which has a shorter detection window. In rare cases, a doctor may test for LSD using your hair follicles.

These amounts are highly dependent on the timing of the test. Compared to other substances such as cocaine or cannabis, LSD metabolizes quicker in the liver, affecting detectability on drug tests. In addition, a person typically only consumes a small amount, which also makes LSD harder to detect. Standard drug testing, typically as a urine sample, does not detect LSD.

You may begin to feel the effects of one “tab” of acid within 20 to 90 minutes of ingesting the drug.

Although the average acid trip can last anywhere from 6 to 15 hours, most trips won’t last more than 12 hours. After your trip is over, you may experience “afterglow” effects for another six hours, which are the lingering effects of happiness, anxiety, or a feeling of “lightness” in life.

Between the initial trip and the comedown, it can take up to 24 hours for your body to return to its typical state of being.

Acid is a colorless, odorless liquid. For consumption, someone making or selling acid typically drips the liquid onto absorbent, colorful paper squares called blotter papers. Each blotter paper can have several “tabs.” One tab is usually enough to induce a trip.

LSD is also sometimes sold as capsules, pills, or sugar cubes. In each form, LSD is diluted with other chemicals or products. The potency of each LSD product varies.

LSD is a psychoactive drug. The effects of the drug often alter your perception of your environment, your body, your mood, and your thoughts. What’s real and what’s imagined become less clear during an acid trip.

The effects of an acid trip can be felt in two ways:

  • how acid affects your body
  • how acid affects your brain

Effects on your brain/perception

LSD creates powerful hallucinogenic effects. Your senses are heightened during a trip. Everything in your environment may feel amplified.

During an acid trip, you may see:

  • brighter colors
  • changing shapes
  • trails behind objects
  • unusual patterns
  • “noisy” colors

LSD can also amplify your mood. If you take acid when you’re feeling good, you may feel more relaxed, happy, or content. You may also become unusually excited and joyful.

If you take acid while you’re upset or angry about something or someone, you may grow more upset or frustrated during the trip. Take your current mood and surroundings into account before you decide to trip.

Effects on your body

During an acid trip, you may experience:

  • increased blood pressure
  • faster heart rate
  • higher body temperature
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • shakiness
  • insomnia

These symptoms should subside completely within 24 hours.

LSD is considered a safe and nontoxic drug when taken at standard doses. LSD toxicity, or death from LSD, is rare. You’re more likely to have a “bad trip” — a distressing psychedelic episode — than you are to experience physical harm.

For most people, a dose of 1 to 3 micrograms per kilogram (mcg/kg) of body weight is enough to produce a moderate trip.

But if you haven’t used acid before, starting with a smaller dose may be a safer way to determine how your body handles the drug. Heavy doses of LSD can create intense highs that make you uncomfortable or nauseous.

Often, an LSD gelatin or “window pane” may contain slightly more acid per piece than a blotter paper tab. However, without chemical testing, it’s impossible to know exactly how much LSD is in any product you choose to take.

Because it’s hard to know exactly how much LSD is in any dose, it’s a good idea not to use LSD when you are alone, especially for the first time.

If possible, allow a more experienced person to use it first and then take a smaller dose. In addition, it’s best to use LSD in a safe space and have a plan in place to account for unsafe behaviors while you use LSD.

Liquid LSD is also very potent. You should avoid taking it directly unless you know how diluted it is. In addition, though the risk of death and severe consequences from LSD is low, negative side effects are possible.

These include:

Bad trip. During a bad acid trip, you may feel scared and confused. You may experience hallucinations that leave you terrified and distraught. Bad trips can last as long as good ones, and there’s no way to stop the trip once it begins. You can expect the effects to linger for up to 24 hours after the bad trip begins.

Tolerance. Tolerance to acid develops quickly. Repeated acid use may require larger doses in order to reach the same effect. However, this tolerance is short-lived. If you stop using acid for a period of time, you’ll lower your threshold for what’s necessary to trip.

Flashbacks. Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder is rare. It causes sensory disturbances similar to what you experience during a trip. These “flashbacks” can occur days, weeks, or even months after your last acid trip.

Psychotic issues. LSD use may trigger schizophrenia in people who are predisposed to the condition. However, this connection remains unclear.

Legal troubles. In the 1960s, U.S., state, and federal governments declared LSD an illegal, controlled substance. It remains such today. That means if you are caught with the drug, you may face fines, probation, or prison time.

If you’re interested in trying LSD, be sure to know your risks — both physical and legal —before you seek out the drug. Although many people tolerate acid trips well, bad trips and other negative side effects can happen.

If you decide to try acid, ask a friend to stay with you during your trip. They should stay sober until they fully come down from the drug. If you begin to experience any negative effects, they can help keep you safe and reassured of your reality.

You should also let your doctor know if you’ve taken or will continue to take LSD. Acid can interfere with some prescription drugs, including antidepressants, so it’s important, to be honest about your recreational activity.

Healthline does not endorse the use of any illegal substances. We recognize abstaining from them is always the safest approach. However, we believe in providing accessible and accurate information to reduce the harm that can occur when using. If you or someone you know might be living with a substance use disorder, we recommend learning more and consulting a healthcare professional to get additional support.