Regarded as an exotic drug for those seeking mind-altering experiences, lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as "acid" or LSD, may be used as a less expensive alternative to other hallucinogenic drugs. Its potential danger lies both in the duration of its digestion and in its aftermath on the human nervous system. Some individuals who experience a "bad trip" on LSD may be unable to function in the resulting hallucinogenic state, endangering their physical well-being. Habitual LSD users may later experience "flashbacks", hallucinogenic visions induced even years after the user's last lysergic acid intake.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is one of the major drugs making up the hallucinogen class. LSD was discovered in 1938 and is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.
LSD, commonly referred to as "acid," is sold on the street in tablets, capsules, and, occasionally, liquid form. It is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste and is usually taken by mouth. Often LSD is added to absorbent paper, such as blotter paper, and divided into small decorated squares, with each square representing one dose.
LSD use appears to have gained resurgence among the younger generation of the 1990's. The trend is mirrored in London, where police report the confiscation of 70,892 "doses" of lysergic acid in 1992, a figure doubled from the previous year. In 1993 a British teenager was convicted after giving her teacher a sweet laced with lysergic acid. Currently LSD can be purchased for as little as £4 or £5 per dose, which lends accessibility and cheapness to teenagers and young adults.
The US National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) reports the nature and extent of drug use among the American household popula tion aged 12 and older. In the 1996 NHSDA estimates, the percentage of the population aged 12 and older who had ever used LSD (the lifetime prevalence rate) had increased to 7.7 percent from 6.0 percent in 1988. Among youths 12 to 17 years old, the 1996 LSD lifetime prevalence rate was 4.3 percent, and for those aged 18 to 25, the rate was 13.9 percent. The rate for past-year use of LSD among the population ages 12 and older was 1 percent in 1996. Past-year prevalence was highest among the age groups 12 to 17 (2.8 percent) and 18 to 25 (4.6 percent). The rate of current LSD use in 1996 for those aged 18 to 25 was 0.9 percent, and it was 0.8 percent for 12- to 17-year-old youths.