The average amount in an acid tab is around 50 micrograms, enough to induce a fairly mild trip. But a tab or dot could contain anything from 25 micrograms to 250 micrograms - enough to make someone temporarily deranged or cause the equivalent of a nervous breakdown.
The acid effect The effects of acid start about 30 minutes after taking it, peak after about two hours and may stay like that for several hours, until the user falls asleep. When people are on acid it affects what they see on the outside and how they feel on the inside.
The external world
Acid alters people's perception of the world around them:
- the brightness of light fluctuates
- sounds shift from loud to quiet and vice versa
- colours become more vivid
- textures feel different - smooth feels jagged and vice versa
- images start to change shape
- people hallucinate - see things that aren't there; sometimes these are pleasant, sometimes very unpleasant.
The internal world
- Users feel a change in their conscious mind and start to look inside themselves.
- They may start to look at the world from a completely different perspective, asking themselves extraordinary questions and knowing the answers - some people say they understand things as never before.
- During a particularly intense trip, it's possible to have an out-of-body experience. This is when users see their body from the outside and their mind is completely detached. This can be extremely unnerving for someone who is not prepared for it.
What's a trip like?
A good trip can be mellow, thrilling and mind expanding.
A bad trip can be like a nightmare and can trigger a drug psychosis so you can never quite escape the nightmares. AND a bad trip can happen at any time.
Acid is a transparent crystal in its pure form, but you won't find it like this. Acid is almost always soaked into small squares of blotting paper, called tabs, blotters or pieces.
Tabs come in sheets of over a hundred. Each tab is about 5 mm square and has a picture or design on it that varies according to fashion (strawberries and penguins are just some that have been used). A small square of paper, whatever the picture, is pretty much a guarantee that it'll be acid.
Microdots are small coloured pills that have been impregnated with acid, but they're not as common as tabs. They're only 2-3 mm across and can be different colours. They often contain high doses of acid.
The hallucinogenic properties of LSD were discovered in 1943 by a Swiss chemist called Albert Hoffman, who was researching its use as a heart stimulant. He accidentally took 250 micrograms of LSD - about five times today's average dose! Hoffman said it was terrifying; at one point he thought he'd died because he had an out-of-body experience. In the 1960s, a US professor, Timothy Leary, began experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs and encouraged a whole generation to follow his tips for trippy enlightenment.
Set and setting
Acid is unpredictable and taking it needs careful planning. How you feel when you take it (the set), and where you are and who you're with (the setting) are crucial. Never take acid on the spur of the moment.
If you're down, nervous, anxious or upset, you're far more likely to have a "bad trip". If you're happy and relaxed, you're more likely to have a "good" one.
To lessen the chances of a bad trip, you need to be in a place that won't freak you out, with people who make you feel at ease. Don't take acid in an environment you can't control - taking acid in a club is a very bad idea. Once on a bad trip, you can't come off.
A BAD TRIP IS A TERRIFYING ROLLER-COASTER OF INESCAPABLE PARANOIA AND HORROR
There's virtually no risk of physical side effects fromtaking acid and it's not addictive, but the mental effects can be very serious.
You can quickly become paranoid - you think everyone is out to get you, or laughing at you. If no-one reassures you, you'll spend the next few hours going from bad to worse.
Because it's a mind-altering drug, acid can unlock a mental illness of which you weren't even aware. This can lead to you becoming depressed, paranoid or even needing psychiatric treatment.
To get some idea of how bad a bad trip can be, remember the intense fear just before waking up from a nightmare. The hallucinations that you experience while on acid can suddenly change from weird and funny to terrifying. The more you've taken, the greater the chance that this will happen. The danger comes from what you might do while on a trip.
- People have been known to try to "escape" from terrifying hallucinations or severe paranoia by literally running away. By doing so, they risk having an accident, such as running in front of a car or falling from a great height.
- People have believed they can fly, walk on water or stop traffic while on a "trip". They put themselves and other people at risk. These incidents are rare, but they have happened so keep an eye on your friends.
- Even when a bad trip is over, it's possible to suffer terrifying flashbacks for weeks, months or even longer.
LSD is a Class A drug, carrying the same penalties as cocaine and heroin.
Having any amount for personal use could lead to a prison sentence and a fine.
Supplying the drug or possessing the drug with intent to supply - whether you're giving it away or selling it - results in a prison sentence which could be for life, AND an unlimited fine AND seizure of drug-related assets.
Your worst nightmare
There is an infinite number of things you might perceive on a bad trip. Imagine looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing your face melt in front of your eyes, or your urine turning into blood. It looks real - and YOU'LL THINK IT'S REAL.
Acid can unlock mental disorders of which you're not even aware.
Taking acid can have a very unpleasant long-term effect - flashbacks. Although they're rare, flashbacks can occur days, weeks, months, even years, after the original trip.
- Flashbacks can be terrifying, and often involve the same hallucinations or feelings you experienced during the original trip.
- They're inescapable: they're shorter than the original trip, but they can go on for hours.
- Anything can trigger a flashback so you can't take precautions against them.
- What to do if you get flashbacks Try to stay calm. Tell yourself that you're just reliving the trip and that it will end soon.
- If you're driving or operating machinery, stop.
- If you're in a noisy place, go somewhere quiet; the flashback will be easier to deal with.
If something goes wrong
If your friend is paranoid, anxious and starts to panic take her to a quiet room away from large groups of people and try to reassure her. Offer her a hot drink or some water, and keep talking to her. Don't let her wander off alone. If your friend begins panting ((hyperventilating), get her to try to breathe normally by copying you.
Your friend may begin to see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating. This can be extremely frightening and may cause your friend to panic. Talk to him and reassure him that the things he can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend until the bad trip is over - don't let him wander off alone.
ACID IS SO UNPREDICTABLE YOU CAN LOSE CONTROL IN A SECOND