LSD: Some Facts
LSD acts on the serotonin 2A receptors in the brain. Recent brain imaging studies from Imperial College London show that LSD increases communication between brain regions. This might explain the experience of creativity, new perspectives on problems, and sense of oneness with the universe often described on LSD.
Over 20 million US adults have personal experience with LSD, over 1 million US adults take LSD each year (based on the large annual NSDUH federally-funded survey).
LSD is chemically similar to LSA, found in morning glory seeds, long used in Central American shamanic healing ceremonies. Other naturally occuring LSD-like psychedelics such as peyote and ayahuasca are recognized for religious use in the US and other countries.
LSD does not cause dependence (EMCDDA). There are no documented cases of LSD addiction. Typical use is once or twice a year. Unlike addictive drugs which decrease anxiety, LSD is often experienced as a challenging period of forced introspection.
LSD can elicit strong anxiety, disorientation, and confusion during the effects, however this rarely leads to medical attention.
Serious injuries on LSD are "extremely rare" (EMCDDA).
Reports of driving on LSD are also extremely rare (NHTSA).
LSD has extremely low physical toxicity and is not known to harm any body organs.
Large survey studies in over 200,000 US adults indicate that people who have used LSD have similar or lower rates of psychiatric distress, suicidal thoughts, and psychosis, after adjusting for other risk factors such as trauma, childhood depression, and other drug use.
LSD has never been banned in medicine, but the patents expired before it was ever submitted for marketing approval. In most countries LSD can be prescribed with special permission. For example, Dr. Peter Gasser in Switzerland runs a private LSD clinic.
Randomized controlled trials of LSD as a treatment for alcoholism from the 1960s showed that a single dose of LSD reduced alcohol use for up to six months.
Now studies at prestigious research institutes such as NYU, UCLA, JHU, and Imperial College London are investigating LSD and similar psychedelics for drug dependence, depression, and other disorders, with promising results.
"Microdosing" on tiny sub-psychedelic doses of LSD as an alternative to coffee or other stimulants in order to increase focus and creativity is a new trend amongst tech professionals. A clinical trial is in progress at Imperial College London.
Long stereotyped as "drop outs", LSD users come from all backgrounds and beliefs, and actually make somewhat higher incomes on average than people who have never used LSD.
The social changes associated with LSD users 50 years ago are now widely accepted in society, such as self-expression and non-conformity, gender fluidity and LGBT acceptance, interest in ecology and seeing that "everything is connected", interest in mindfulness and yoga.
The ban on LSD was based on fears, anecdotes, and worst-case scenarios, rather than a reasonable examination of evidence of harm. A 1968 US Senate report on LSD noted that all expert witnesses opposed criminalization of possession of LSD for personal use and concluded: "the Government had an obligation to maintain a balanced perspective concerning LSD at a time of public tumult. It failed to do so."
In recent years, "psychedelic societies" have formed in many cities, to raise awareness about psychedelics and advocate for respect of people's right to chose to use psychedelics as a personal development, spiritual, or cultural practice. For example, EmmaSofia in Oslo and Psychedelic Society UK in London.