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Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)

Overview :

LSD is produced synthetically from a fungus that grows on rye grass. This odorless, colorless, and slightly bitter-tasting chemical is generally ingested orally and absorbed from the gastrointestinal system. Manufacturers commonly distribute LSD in small squares of absorbent paper soaked with the drug, which users chew and swallow. Use of LSD and other hallucinogens by secondary school students has decreased since 1998, but has increased among older teens and young adults attending dance clubs and all-night raves, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

LSD alters perceptions by disrupting the action of the neurotransmitter serotonin, although precisely how it does this is unclear. Studies suggest LSD acts on certain groups of serotonin receptors, and that its effects are most prominent in two brain regions: the cerebral cortex and the locus ceruleus. The cerebral cortex is involved in mood and perception, and the locus ceruleus receives sensory signals from all areas of the body. Natural hallucinogens resembling LSD, such as mescaline and psilocybin, have been used in social and religious rituals for thousands of years.

After its discovery in 1938, LSD was used experimentally to treat neuroses, narcotic addiction, autism, alcoholism, and terminally ill cancer patients, and to study the mechanisms of psychotic diseases like schizophrenia. Nearly 30 years after its discovery, manufacture, possession, sale, and use of LSD was restricted in the United States under the Drug Abuse Control Amendment of 1965.

LSD's effects generally begin within an hour of taking the drug and last for up to 12 hours. The drug is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, and circulated throughout the body and to the brain. It is metabolized in the liver and excreted in the urine about 24 hours after ingestion. Physical effects of LSD may include loss of appetite, sleeplessness, pupil dilation, dry mouth, salivation, palpitations, perspiration, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, and anxiety, as well as increased body temperature, heartbeat, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

The major effects of LSD are emotional and sensory. Emotions may shift instantaneously from euphoria to confusion and despair, and users may feel as if they are experiencing several emotions simultaneously. Colors, smells, and sounds may be highly intensified, and time may appear to move very slowly. Sensory perceptions may blend in a phenomenon known as synesthesia, in which a person sees sounds, or smells colors, for example. Users may have out-of-body sensations, or may perceive their body has changed shape or merged with another person or object.

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