Albert Hofmann LSD Discovery and How it Changed His Life

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At first, you feel nothing. As the tablet dissolves, reality does as well. You look around the room. The room is spinning almost pulsating. It’s as if the world is breathing. It all started by taking a small tablet. This tablet is a form of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). LSD is a widely used drug that has affected various people in America. Thus, to understand the gravity of the effect of this drug, one must address the pharmacology, biological impact, population risk, interventions, and recommendations for future work.

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was created in 1938 by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann. He discovered LSD, because he was working on a chemical that is found in a fungus called ergot. (history. com). Despite his original discovery in 1938, the full effects of LSD was not yet known. In fact, Hofmann did not know the side effects of Lysergic acid diethylamide until 1943 when he accidentally ingested the substance. At first, he did not feel any effect, but later that day Hofmann began to feel the effects. In Albert Hofmann’s book LSD: My Problem Child , he recalls that day and stated that when he went home, he sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (he) found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), (he) perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away (LSD: My Problem Child, 1980).

It took 5 years for Hofmann to test the effects of the drug. When he discovered the effects, he found that LSD is a psychedelic drug, which means that it causes hallucinations (merriam-webster). Three days after his accidental ingestion, Hofmann intentionally took the substance to feel the full effects of the drug. Due to the scientist being unaware of the entry level dose of the drug, he ingested almost 10 times the amount of the now known entry dosage. Thus, Hofmann had to be assisted to exit the laboratory where he resided. After he exited the lab, Hofmann started to ride his bike back to his home. This is where he truly felt the psychedelic positive and negative effects of LSD. During his bike ride, he was frightened to the point that he contacted a physician. Yet, the physician found nothing unusual about Hofmann’s demeanor except his dilated eyes (cite?). Hofmann felt elation and found himself appreciating “the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind (his) closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on (his), alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux” (LSD: My Problem Child, 1980). This shows how LSD did not cause noticeable effects on Hofmann’s appearance at first. Therefore, that day, April 19, 1943 marked the first instance of an LSD trip, which catalyzed the beginning of the psychedelic movement (What Is Bicycle Day?, n. d. ). Although there was a delay in Hofmann discovering these effects of LSD, his experience was the foundation of discovering and experimenting with other psychedelic drugs.

Hofmann’s documented experience catalyzed research and interest in the chemical form and biological impact of Lysergic acid diethylamide. Lysergic acid, which is found in a parasitic rye fungus called Claviceps purpurea, is the derivative of LSD (Passie, Halpern, Stichtenoth, Emrich & Hintzen, 2008). Thus, LSD comes from a grain. Despite LSD being derived from an organism in nature, it must go through synthesization to become the form of LSD that is for human ingestion. The chemical make-up of LSD includes the following elements: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen, and the molecular formula is C20H25N3O (National Center for Biotechnology Information, n. d. ). The chemical composition and molecular formula of LSD shows how various natural chemicals are manipulated to make this hallucigen. LSD also has various chemical names such Acid Diethylamide, Lysergic Diethylamide, Lysergic Acid, LSD 25, LSD-25, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide Tartrate, Lysergide ( National Center for Biotechnology Information, n. d. )

The various forms of Lysergic Diethylamide are” sold in tablets, capsules, liquid form, or dissolved onto blotter or other absorbent paper and cut into squares. Called acid, blotter, window pane, dots, mellow yellow, boomers, and yellowsunshines” (LSD and the Dangers of Microdosing, 2019). In spite of Albert Hofmann’s documented experience, LSD can cause a lot more side effects. The full biological impact of LSD is more extensive because there are short and long term side effects of the drug. The short term psychological side effects of LSD are visual and auditory hallucinations distorted sense of time and body perception, sensitivity to sounds, smells and other sensations, blending of the senses (synesthesia), heightened sense of understanding and identity, mystical or religious experiences. So, LSD can cause people to sense and perceive various things that are not realistic. The short term physical effects include blurred vision, dizziness, chills, sweating, dry mouth, dilated pupils, nausea, weakness, palpitations, elevated body temperature, tremors, and rapid heartbeat (Gonzales, 2018), LSD not only causes these side effects, but also long term effects which are far more serious. The long term effects of continual LSD use may include chronic psychosis, which is “a serious mental illness (such as schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality often with hallucinations or delusions” (“psychosis”, n. d. ). Although chronic psychosis is not always a side effect of LSD, it still exposes how detrimental LSD can be to a person’s mental health. Lysergic acid diethylamide can also cause people to struggle with articulating and rationalizing with other people (Gonzales, 2018). Therefore, usage of LSD can completely change a person’s mental capability. In some cases, Lysergic acid Diethylamide can even cause people to develop “hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, a condition characterized by repeated, spontaneous distortions in reality similar to those caused by acid” (Gonzales, 2018). Thus, Lysergic acid Diethylamide can have an immense psychological and biological impact on humans.

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After understanding LSD’s chemical components as well as biological impacts, it is also important to address which population is most at risk for LSD usage and addiction. In relation to income, it is difficult to identify which socioeconomic class is most at risk. This is due to the price of LSD being sold “for around $5-$10. A quarter ounce usually sells for around $25-$30. The drug can even be found cheaply on the Internet or for free from dealers looking for new clients” (Hilbink, n. d. ). This exposes how accessible and inexpensive LSD is to the population of America. The price of LSD may also explain the most at risk age group. Overall, from 2012-2014, the average usage of psychedelics such as Lysergic acid Diethylamide was only 0. 1% of all age groups in America. ( How many people use LSD, n. d. ). So, LSD is not only inexpensive, but it is also not common in any American age groups. In fact, In 2014, 0. 3% of 12-17 year olds and 18-25 year olds were current users while 0. 1% of 26 and older individuals were current users of LSD ( How many people use LSD, n. d. ).

Therefore, from the individuals that were tested for the statistic, the 12- 17 years olds had the highest percentage of usage. However, this statistic does not account for all of America. In 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that the highest percentage of LSD usage was in adults 26 and older. (10. 6%), but this is within a lifetime. (NIH, 2017). So, the statistics and trends change for LSD usage throughout different years and decades. As for race, Non-hispanics, specifically White people have the highest amount of hallucinogen usage (32, 229) and 12 year olds and older have the highest amount of hallucinogen usage (SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2016 and 2017). Although there is a high number of usage in White people and 12 year olds and older, people of all ages and races report usage of hallucinogens such as Lysergic acid Diethylamide. The gender that has the most incidences of LSD abuse is the male population (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2016 and 2017). After understanding these statistics, one can infer that White males who are 12 years old and above are the most at risk population for LSD abuse and addiction. Moreover, income is not a determining risk factor in usage of LSD.

Due to LSD’s side effects and group that is most at risk, there must be action taken to prevent usage of the drug. Before discussing recovery, one must undertsand that LSD is typically not a physically addictive drug. Instead, acid addiction is generally psychological” (“LSD Addiction Treatment Programs”, n. d. ). This means that recovery from LSD does not involve physical withdrawal symptoms but is still concerning due to mental obstacles that arise from LSD usage. When searching for LSD addiction recovery options, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA has a national helpline that is dedicated to talking to people who are seeking help for substance abuse for themselves or others. If needed, they also transfer people to other services. These services include inpatient, outpatient, and 12-step programs. In patient programs can span from 30 days to 90 days and can include group meetings; outpatient programs allow treatment options that allow a patient to attend therapy 3-5 days a week for 2-6 hours; On the other hand, 12-step programs are free programs that incorporate 12 steps into a person’s journey to recovery ( How to Find the Best Residential LSD Recovery Center, n. d. ).

Thus, there are various ways to receive recovery treatment for LSD abuse. Behavioral therapy and group therapy are also important methods associated with the recovery of LSD addiction. Behavioral therapy allows an addict to find habits and activities to replace drug usage while group therapy offers a support group to recovering addicts to encourage staying clean of drugs (LSD Addiction Treatment Programs, n. d. ). Behavioral therapy can be useful to an LSD addict, because it addresses the effects of the psychological impacts of LSD. On the other hand, group therapy helps a person with other recovering LSD addicts, which can allow each addict to set an example and be accountable for one another. This means that behavioral therapy can help to address the detrimental effects that LSD has had on a recovering addict. Individual and family therapy are also other methods that could be used to intervene and help with recovering from LSD (Recover from LSD Abuse, n. d. ). Individual therapy may help a recovering person to allow themselves to focus on their recovery instead of other people’s as well. Family therapy can help a patient’s family to be involved in supportive in the patient’s recovery process. Therefore, there are multiple ways for a recovering LSD addict to seek help and recover.

Although there is a lot of information on Lysergic acid Diethylamide, there are still some unanswered questions as well as issues that have recently arisen. One big issue is about microdosing, which is “ the action or practice of taking or administering very small amounts of a drug in order to test or benefit from its physiological action while minimizing undesirable side effects” (“microdosing”, n. d. ). Microdosing is controversial, because it allows drugs such as LSD to be used by humans. Recently, people have voluntarily allowed scientist to see how microdosing affects humans. In fact, in 2016, a study from Imperial College in London addressed and questioned if LSD could affect optimism and openness over a short and extended amount of time.

The researchers tested 20 people who were over 21 years old. Minutes after they were given a microdoses of LSD, most of the participants experienced positive instead of negative feelings during the first few minutes and even 2 weeks after their micro-dosage (Weintraub, 2016). The study showed that microdoses of LSD may help increase optimism, which can help many people who have certain mood disorders. For example, Weintraub stated that this study opens up the question of “ Could LSD one day be used to treat maladies such as major depressive disorder? Would the short-term psychological discomfort of giving an individual therapeutic LSD be worth the potential long-term benefits? Would the positive effects of LSD persist longer than two weeks?” (2016). The study did help to show that LSD may be beneficial to many people, yet more research must be done to completely accept the wide usage and acceptance of microdosing for psychedelics.

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a synthetic drug that changed not only Albert Hoffman’s life but also the world. It is so unique that there is even a holiday dedicated to Hoffman’s first trip on LSD. Although the side effects vary LSD can drastically change a person’s mental state and capabilities. Despite the drug not being as widely used by any age group, it has the potency to change a person for the rest of their life. However, there is research on the beneficial impacts of LSD with controlled amounts. Therefore, to truly understand all of the benefits and drawbacks of LSD, it must be carefully monitored and studied for years to come.

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