The thing about myths is that they become so intertwined in our culture’s DNA, that we might not even stop to question them. They become ingrained in our backgrounds, like a song you haven’t listened to in decades but with lyrics that are still somewhere in your memory. There’s no use in trying to look how they came to be, cause we just accept them as one more item in our catalogue of knowledge gained through society. We’ve already demystified some misconceptions about alcohol. Now it’s time to take a look at some of the common beliefs you might have heard about LSD:
I can’t become addicted to LSD
It’s true that you can’t become physically addicted, however, psychological addiction is absolutely possible and it’s nothing to scoff at. Some might seek to recreate the visual effects, others might want to spend more of their time on the self reflective and highly spiritual journeys.
If you’ve been researching LSD, you know there’s no harm in taking LSD daily, for example. You also know is a waste of money because you’ll experience hardly any effects. But when you’re craving the spiritual intensity, the hole on your pocket will be the last thing on your mind cause you’ll be too busy trying to find a way to recreate the self reflective journey.
Depending on how this need is channeled, you’ll either get someone who’ll look for a healthy outlet like meditation, or someone that can’t wait for the quick drop in tolerance and instead will fall into an addictive mindset and look for a quick fix.
Like any addiction, this one also has the potential to cause issues in the user’s life. So it is advisable to recognize if you need help. Additionally if you find yourself taking LSD a little more often than usual or in spite of having things to do besides going on a 12 hour trip, it might be time to put all the self reflection to good use and ask yourself why are you abusing it so much.
I’ll jump out the window convinced I can fly
There’s one thing in common with the most widely available stories reporting people thinking they can fly and falling to their deaths while on an LSD trip: No toxicology reports were done. In the cases that have received the most attention from media outlets, LSD’s involvement has been mere speculation. The truth is that “thinking you can fly” is not, in any way, a given among users. Though lots of anti drug resources name it as a side effect, that is simply not something that’s reported by every user.
Still PSA’s about drunk driving are not exactly based on the idea that drinkers will think they’re Dwayne Johnson recreating a stunt for Fast and Furious or that they’ll inexplicably feel the urge to crash their cars onto the nearest brick wall. They’re based on the knowledge that you’re intoxicated and can’t accurately measure how risky a situation is, so you can easily harm yourself or others. Likewise you shouldn’t be taking acid while standing on the edge of a 40 stories high building, driving motorized vehicles or unsupervised and near a deep pool, even if you have no underlying mental conditions, you’re on an altered state that can cause many accidents if you put yourself at risk.
Make safety a priority
Experienced users are really emphatic about planning your trips in regards to where you’ll be while you’re under the influence, the people that will be surrounding you and even the kind of music you’ll have available. Spontaneity might look like an appealing option, but you don’t want to be in the middle of your first trip surrounded by a bunch of strangers that make you uncomfortable and suddenly realizing you’d much rather be in the comfort of your own home and having to make the very real physical journey while your brain is active on LSD. Feeling anxious or nervous because of your surroundings might trigger a bad trip, and you should always try to minimize that possibility beforehand. Take a hint from Timothy Leary and Aldous Huxley and always think about set and setting.
Always keep in mind that you should be as responsible as possible when experimenting with psychedelic substances. You can have a trusty sitter with you that knows what to do in case you walk past a mirror mid trip and proceed to freak out because you don’t recognize your reflection. Another option is doing it in a therapeutic setting. Though medical research is seeing a revival on LSD research, finding a psychiatrist willing to have a patient experiment on LSD regardless of legal implications, might not be the easiest task.
I’ll have genetic damage for the rest of my life after taking LSD
This was widely spread after LSD was made illegal in the late 1960’s and its origins are likely to be a series of poorly controlled studies conducted either in vitro or that did not provide substantiated evidence.
More recent studies prove that pure LSD does not cause genetic damage. The same can not be said for LSD that is laced with something else or similar substances like NBOMe, since studies are yet to be done.
One caveat you can find on most references is about taking LSD while being pregnant. Most studies have been done in animals and found no collateral damage, while others found brain defects and visual issues on fetuses that were exposed to LSD. The few studies conducted on humans did not account for the use of other drugs during pregnancy. Suffice it to say that if scientist aren’t experimenting with this angle, neither should any regular user no matter how intrigued they might be by LSD or how experienced they are with the drug.
LSD will automatically make me more self aware and “evolved”
We’ve talked about the benefits LSD has in terms of changing your perspective, allowing you to explore feelings that were mostly unconscious, and encouraging self reflection. All of that is absolutely true, but it doesn’t mean LSD will work as a magic pill -or blotter- to automatically help you become more aware of your surroundings.
LSD is less like a wrecking ball that will destroy the walls of your consciousness whether you like it or not, and more like a box containing the blueprints of your brain allowing you to look at them in a clear way, and see new rooms you can add or doors you can open or close depending on what you want.
If you refuse to look within, or find new alternatives to your common everyday problems, no amount of LSD will cure you of that. Being open to, at least, accept there might be other previously unconsidered approaches to life that can work for you, is almost a prerequisite. That’s the same principle most psychotherapists use when taking on new patients: if they don’t want any help, they can’t be forced into getting it because not even therapy can work on people that are resisting help..
You won’t automatically become a whole different person
The truth is that if you aren’t used to critical thinking in your everyday life, you don’t have a creative outlet, and you’re not prone to self reflection, LSD won’t magically turn you into an oil painting genius that exhaustively studies every emotion he experiences. If you don’t want to take a look at all those emotions you’ve been keeping unconscious and you take LSD, at best you’ll have some pretty neat visuals, at worst you’ll find yourself having a bad trip.
During my research, I’ve come across people who reject therapeutic LSD experimentation because they feel it is used as a “shortcut” for states of consciousness that should only be attained through meditation or intense self reflection without the use of any kind of drug. Though I can see their point, there really is no “shortcut” for improving your well being and LSD can’t work as one for people who don’t have the motivation and the inclinations in the first place.
Dealers often put mescaline instead of LSD on microdots
Simply put: mescaline won’t fit, and can’t be active on such small doses.
It can still be something else, though. Just not mescaline. One of the substitutes some unscrupulous dealers can use is a DOx drug: 2,5 Dimethoxy-4-bromoamphetamine. That’s an abnormally terrifying word for a psychedelic drug and amphetamine substitute. Depending on who you ask, 2,5 Dimethoxy will be characterized as “super acid”, or just a mild psychedelic that can have effects similar to LSD.
Testers might come in handy
There are two kits available for those who want to confirm they’re taking actual LSD: The Marquis test and the Erlich test. The latter turns pink or purple when LSD is detected, while the former won’t react to LSD but will to DOx compounds.
If I take LSD today, I’ll have dangerous flashbacks ten years from now
You know this one. Your best friend has an aunt who took half a blotter of LSD when she was 19 because she was feeling curious and “discovering herself” away in college. 20 years later she’s married, wears capri pants almost exclusively, works in finance and has 2.5 kids. She’s long forgotten about her devious ways as a teenager until one fateful day she’s grocery shopping and starts seeing little elves dancing right into the cereal aisle. Before she even has a chance to put the kale back in place and process what’s happened, she’s standing in a kaleidoscopic field, cheerfully singing to a tune no one else can hear. Not long after, medics are called and she spends the rest of her life locked up somewhere unable to come back down to reality. Her life forever ruined by LSD.
People who come up with such great displays of creative storytelling, often rely on the myth that LSD stays hidden on your body, then one day it’s released back into your system and you’re on a surprise LSD trip. The truth is that this doesn’t happen, standard doses of LSD are not stored anywhere on your body for more than a day. People have reported experiencing flashbacks but these are in the form of visual disturbances, not elaborate hallucinations that will take you out of reality.
The truth about Flashbacks
Flashbacks are a controversial topic among regular users and scientific researchers. Some refer to it as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, and it entails having visual disturbances that are neither caused by other ailments or medication and can last a lifetime or for long periods of time. People who have suffered from it have reported grainy visuals that mimic static on television, seeing trails behind moving objects and halos on static ones, and feeling like they’re in motion when they’re not, among other disturbances. Some say sufferers experienced all those disturbances before taking LSD but they were never really aware of it, others think it’s a problem of perception due to long term use.
You can only take 2 blotters of LSD in a lifetime
People who say this, claim that if you take more, the acid will simply deep fry your brain and you will forever be a rambling lunatic. Often this is disputed by people saying that 7 is actually the magic number. After you’ve done it 7 times you’ll be “legally insane”.
What they fail to take into account is the fact that neither of those claims is based on scientific, medical or legal proof. In the case of the 2 blotters, well, the dose of your typical blotter is not tested and you simply have no way of knowing how much LSD is in it. Not that it would make a difference if you could, since most blotters contain about 30 to 100 ug of LSD, and overdoses have been recorded on 1,000 to 7,000 ug per 100ml.
As for the “legally insane” diagnosis: there’s no legal basis. It’s not in any law. It might be a familiar phrase because it has been rarely used as a defense on some trials for criminal charges. Medically, “insane” is not a diagnosis but an umbrella term people often use to talk about mental disorders due to a lack of knowledge or understanding about them.
I know someone who took LSD every day for a year and now he’s both addicted and crazy
While long term abuse of both legal and illegal drugs can cause mental health issues, there’s no way your friend was using LSD daily and still getting any effects at all. If he’s exhibiting the gruesome signs of addiction, even only psychologically, by all means take them as seriously as you can, but ask a little more as to what is the cause before going on a psychedelic witch hunt.
Check pre existent conditions
The faint truth behind this myth might be related to the fact that people that are predisposed to different psychological disorders can be triggered by psychedelics, as well as alcohol, cocaine, heroine, and even some seemingly innocuous cannabis. Most of the myths related to LSD causing insanity, come from this 1960’s study. More recent studies have found that the trigger might become active during withdrawal rather than during the trip itself, and it will still be like a very mild version of alcohol withdrawal.
If I take LSD even once, I’ll get holes in my brain
This one is really old school and it definitely should be a warning against PCP use, but not LSD. It is thought that this is founded on incorrect interpretations of CAT scans, that show different reactions of the brain on certain circumstances so some part of the brain may, at times, look like holes. It is important to remember that those old studies are not only not 100% reliable because of the interpretations but also because they were often done on people who took other drugs as well, so results cannot be solely attached to LSD usage.
More recent studies have found that the brain is actually overconnected while on LSD. More areas of the brain become actively engaged in visualization, and areas in charge of self perception and the perception of the outside world become more active.
LSD can’t be detected in drug tests
One of the benefits recreational users often cite is that LSD won’t show up on drug test. In the sense that most drug tests don’t bother looking for LSD, that’s true. Most test are looking to find the usual suspects: Cocaine, heroin, and marihuana. But LSD can absolutely be found in your system even up to 42 hours after ingestion -Others claim it can be up to a month-, and don’t forget LSD is a Schedule I drug and therefore illegal.
If anyone is suspecting you’re dropping acid, which is not something most employers would take too kindly, they can absolutely go for a -more expensive- test that can confirm any suspicions.
As long as it’s illegal, we’ll all be protected of any negative side effects
There are two things we should accept about the war on drugs: 1. Making drugs illegal didn’t make them unavailable, and 2. Official medical research came to a forced halt, unlike illegal drug labs, distributors and dangerous misconceptions.
Drugs are virtually anywhere, people are still buying them, most people have only heard of recreational use and on top of that there’s a huge amount of myths and shady information going around and robbing users of a responsible and healing experience.