LSD was synthesised in 1938 by a chemist working for Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland. It was developed initially as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant. However, no extraordinary benefits of the compound were identified and its study was discontinued. In the 1940’s, interest in the drug was revived when it was thought to be a possible treatment for schizophrenia. Because of LSD’s structural relationship to a chemical that is present in the brain and its similarity in effect to certain aspects of psychosis, LSD was used as a research tool in studies of mental illness.

The effects of LSD are unpredictable. They depend on the amount taken, the user’s personality, mood and expectations, and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30-90 minutes after taking it. These effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. Sensations and feelings change much more dramatically than the physical signs.

The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. Depending on the dose, the drug can produce delusions and visual hallucinations, which can be frightening and cause panic. Users refer to their experience with these acute adverse reactions as a “bad trip,” and the effects typically last for about twelve hours. Terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of insanity and death, injuries, and fatal accidents have occurred during states of LSD intoxication. Anyone can experience a bad trip and there is no way to predict what your own experience will be.

LSD is classified as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. As a Schedule I drug, LSD meets the following three criteria: it is deemed to have a high potential for abuse; it has no legitimate medical use in treatment; and, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision.