Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as acid, was accidentally discovered in the late 1930s by a pharmaceutical researcher. Not getting the results he wanted initially, Albert Hofmann dismissed the drug.
Later, a chance encounter led him to what was probably the first acid trip. He described it as “a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness” in his book “LSD: My Problem Child.“
Acid is made from a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. It’s illegal in the United States, where it’s often produced in laboratories.
Absorbent paper is soaked in the solution. It dries, and the paper is cut into tiny squares called tabs or hits. It can also be taken as a liquid, injected, or inhaled.
A single dose is often enough for hours’ worth of effects. This is known as an acid trip, and has a range of possible experiences.
Each person’s experience with acid will be different. Indeed, each trip may be different. One might be very light, but others can take a frightening and overwhelming turn.
During this period of “tripping” or active effects, you may begin to experience sensationalized perceptions of what’s happening around you. This can include “seeing” color or “tasting” sounds. Stationary items, like furniture, may begin to “move” or swell or shrink before your eyes.
Coming down from the trip will feel like you’re gradually returning to Earth. Signs may begin to lessen in intensity. You may feel tired after getting through the hours-long trip and want to sleep.
An “afterglow” is possible for several hours after the end of the trip, too. This may feel like everything is “lighter” or “brighter” than before the trip. You may also have moments of flashbacks for several hours, even days, after the acid trip is over.
A microdose is a small dose of a psychedelic drug like LSD, often one-tenth of a normal dose. It’s sometimes used to help treat symptoms of anxiety and depression, but it’s not meant to completely encompass your day. However, little is known about the long-term effects of this practice.
Each trip is unpredictable. Some LSD users enjoy not knowing what will happen, but for others, the long period of variable or erratic symptoms may be disconcerting.
Your first trip may depend largely on your mindset going into it. Some LSD users say their attitudes or mood prior to taking a hit of acid greatly affects what they feel during it.
For example, people who have had a lot of stress or anxiety may have a negative experience. Paranoia and fear may creep in amid the sensationalized sights and sounds.
Others may have a very positive experience. This can include experiencing wildly exaggerated surroundings with bright colors, patterns, bursts, and halos. They may have spiritual breakthroughs or feel they’ve gained some greater understanding of life during the trip.
Taking acid can have many effects on your senses and perceptions. Some of these may be positive and joyful. Others might not be.
Physical side effects
LSD is a hallucinogen, but it can cause physical side effects, too. These can include:
- increased heart rate
- increased body temperature
- hyperthermia (sustained high body temp) that can lead to kidney damage
Psychological side effects
These psychological side effects may be most commonly associated with an LSD trip:
- synesthesia or sensory distortion
- hallucinations or distortions to the way you see things around you
Overuse side effects
Overuse of LSD may produce the following side effects:
- Tolerance. You may develop a tolerance to LSD quickly. In that case, the same amount of acid won’t generate the same effects. You’ll need to take more to generate a response, which could increase the possibility of negative effects.
- Psychological addiction. Many people easily give up LSD, especially if they have a bad trip. Some individuals, however, may develop an addiction to it and the sensations it produces.
- Flashbacks. People who take acid may experience recurring “trips” for many days, months, or even years after a trip. These brief relapses can be disorienting.
- Hallucinogen persistent perception disorder (HPPD). HPPD is a condition in which flashbacks happen frequently.
- Depression. Bad trips can leave you with negative feelings or thoughts about yourself. This may develop into anxiety or depression.
One person’s acid trip can produce very different results from another person’s trip. Good trips may seem dream-like and euphoric. Bad trips, on the other hand, can be overwhelmingly negative and cause unnecessary fears and anxiety.
You may still experience the same effects of the drug — mixed up senses, hallucinations, and distortions. But bad trips can have an element of paranoia, fear, or even depression.
Some people may experience overwhelming feelings. They may accuse people around them of negative behaviors toward them. Rarely, these feelings may be so unbearable a person may consider or even attempt suicide.
It’s not always possible to know what your acid trip will be like. You can go into an experience with acid with good hopes, but ultimately, it’s unpredictable. For some people, a bad trip is enough to make them swear off the drug for good. But for others, it’s just one aspect of use.
Many people on an acid trip are highly engaged throughout the whole experience. For 6 to 15 hours, you might be busy taking in the new views and sights and trying to process what’s happening. You might feel mental clarity that helps you think about life anew. That can be very exhausting.
As the effects of an acid trip begin to wane, fatigue may set in. Many people will sleep off the last portion of their acid trip because they’re so tired, and the effects have finally subsided enough that they’re able to rest.
Stimulation during the last hours of an acid trip may be overwhelming. Some people may seek a quiet room with little to excite the senses so they can ride out the final hours more easily. Soothing music may also be welcome.
It’s also important that you begin to try to hydrate in the last stages of an acid trip. That’s because increased body temperature is a common side effect of acid use, and you may not think to drink while you’re experiencing an acid trip.
But to keep from getting sick later on, it’s good to drink water — or to encourage someone you’re with to hydrate if they’re coming down from an acid trip.
LSD trips have possible side effects and complications. People who take acid may experience flashbacks for days, weeks, or even months after a trip.
If these become frequent, you may have a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). During an episode, you may experience moments of a trip, such as distorted objects, unusual sounds, or strong odors.
You can also experience flashbacks from a bad trip. These flashbacks may become upsetting and can even begin to interfere with your day-to-day life.
Keep in mind that LSD is also illegal in the United States. If you are caught with tabs, you can be arrested and face legal repercussions, including jail time.
Acid trips are long, wild experiences. Sometimes they’re positive and inspiring, and sometimes they’re negative and overwhelming. Each trip can be different, and it’s difficult to know what you’ll get with each hit.