Hallucinogens and Addiction

Street Names
Acid, blotter, and many others

Brief Description
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is one of the major drugs making up the hallucinogen class of drugs. Hallucinogens cause hallucinations—profound distortions in a person’s perception of reality. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The serotonin system is involved in the control of behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory systems, including mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, muscle control, and sensory perception.

Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Some hallucinogens also produce rapid, intense emotional swings. One of the most potent mood-changing chemicals, LSD, was discovered in 1938. The effects of LSD are unpredictable. They depend on the amount taken; the user’s personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30 to 90 minutes after taking it. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in a large enough doses, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The user’s sense of time and self alters. Sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. Users refer to their experience with LSD as a “trip” and to acute adverse reactions as a “bad trip”. These experiences are long; typically, they begin to clear after about 12 hours. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of insanity and death, and despair while using LSD. Some fatal accidents have occurred during states of LSD intoxication.