5 Harmful Myths We Need to Stop Telling About LSD
Image Credit: Getty Images
By Tom McKay
First synthesized by chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938, lysergic acid diethlamide, commonly known as LSD, remains one of the most spectacularly sensationalized and popularly misunderstood drugs.
Capable of inducing intense sensory hallucinations and provoking overpowering (and sometimes unpleasant) reflections about the nature of reality, this powerful drug has only recently won recognition for its potential role in psychotherapy and medicine.
And yet, the substance carries with it a large stigma of dangerous outcomes, unwanted flashbacks and medical shortcomings. But what's true and what isn't? Some of these commonly held ideas are inspired by misunderstandings of how drugs work in the body, while others are relics of drug-war propaganda first circulated decades ago. But all of these misconceptions unfairly relegate a substance which has profound effects on the human psyche to the margins of society and science.
1. LSD is extremely dangerous for you and for society.
The widespread perception of LSD as a uniquely destructive narcotic has to do with the drug's ability to cause impressive and deeply affecting hallucinations and changes of perception. But compared to legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, LSD is a blip in the radar and actually one of the least harmful common drugs.
According to a 2010 study that attempted to quantify the social harm posed by each commonly used psychoactive drug in the U.K., compared to the much more common drugs like alcohol heroin, cocaine and even cannabis, LSD is not very harmful to either the user or others. The study's lead researcher, David Nutt, was dismissed in 2009 from a senior U.K. advisory position for advocating reform to drug laws.
The results make intuitive sense — someone who drinks regularly is probably more likely to get in a preventable accident than the occasional tripper who pays attention to set and setting — but they also align with recent research by Norwegian researchers Pål-Ørjan Johansen and Teri Suzanne Krebs that found psychedelics "induce profound experiences while at the same time having a safety profile comparable to many activities of daily life, such as riding a bicycle or playing soccer."
2. You'll experience intense "acid flashbacks" years later.
Taking a single hit of LSD probably won't set you up for terrifying repeat trips for the rest of your life. According to io9, the myth of flashbacks may date back to a 1991 Drug Enforcement Agency meeting in which a speaker "allegedly tied the number of homeless in San Francisco to the use of LSD in the 1960s and the Summer of Love."
The kinds of flashbacks popularized by drug-war panic don't actually happen, and those that do are usually brief and mild. A small minority of users, however, may experience hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, which manifests itself in audiovisual and sensory distortions like flashing colors, visual illusion and visions of fractals and other trippy phenomena long after the LSD has left the body.
HPPD is poorly understood, but probably very rare. In 2002, psychiatrist John Halpern concluded previous studies on the condition hadn't properly established whether the reported symptoms could be linked to factors like other drug use or neurological and psychological disorders.
"I think the majority of people could trip relatively safely, but there's a discrete percentage. ... Maybe one person in 20 will develop serious, continuous problems related to the hallucinogenic experience," psychiatrist Henry David Abraham told Popular Science in 2013. "But that's true for virtually any drug."
3. It will drive you insane.
Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out
(58:28) @ https://youtu.be/78WvMFKc4hM
For more information about LSD see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/lsd
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