If you want to use drugs, read this first
During the 1950s and early 1960s, LSD experimentation was legally
conducted by psychiatrists and others in the health and mental health
professions. Sometimes dramatic, unpleasant psychological reactions
occur, including panic, great confusion, and anxiety. Strongly
affected by set and setting.
Rarely people use it to escape in a negative way or as part of "polydrug abuse" behavior or pattern of behavior. Usually in this case other drugs are causing more harm, and the fundamental problem is a personal difficulty; the escapism/distraction is a symptom.
A person on LSD who becomes depressed, agitated, or confused may experience these feelings in an overwhelming manner that grows on itself. The best solution is to remove disturbing influences, get to a safe, comforting environment, and reassure the tripper that things are alright. It may comfort those who fear that they are losing their minds to be reminded that it will end in several hours.
Authorities are fond of administering injections of anti-psychotic drugs. Recovery in the presence of authorities, in hospitals or police stations, is not pleasant. Sedatives or tranquilizers such as Valium may help reduce panic and anxiety, but the best solution is calm talking.
Remember that odd bodily sensations are normal and not harmful.
"The distinction between psycholytic and psychedelic doses of LSD is used in
many scientific publications but seems to be ignored by popularizers who
either preach the "LSD utopia" or warn of the "decline of the West."
A psycholitic dose, generally 75 or 100 - or at most 200 - micrograms, causes a rush of thoughts, a lot of free association, some visualization (hallucination) and abreaction (memories so vivid that one seems to relive the experience).
A psychedelic dose, around 500 micrograms, produces total but temporary breakdown of usual ways of perceiving self and world and (usually) some form of "peak experience" or mystic transcendence of ego. "Bad trips" usually occur only on psychedelic doses."
Reactions that are prolonged (days to months) and/or require hospitalization are often referred to as "LSD psychosis," and include a heterogenous population and group of symptoms. Although there are no hard and fast rules, some trends have been noted in these patients. There is a tendency for people with poorer premorbid adjusment, a history of psychiatric illness and/or treatment, a greater number of exposure to psychedelic drugs (and correlatively, a great average total cumulative dosage taken over time), drug-taking in an unsupervised setting, a history of polydrug abuse, and self-therapeutic and/or peer-pressure-submission motive for drug use, to suffer these consequences.
2. LSD does not cause chromosome damage.
In Science 30 April 1972, Volume 172 Number 3982 p. 431-440 there was an article by Norman I. Dishotsky, William D. Loughman, Robert E. Mogar and Wendell R. Lipscomb titled "LSD and Genetic Damage - Is LSD chromosome damaging, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic?". They reviewed 68 studies and case reports published 1967-1972, concluding "From our own work and from a review of literature, we believe that pure LSD ingested in moderate doses does not damage chromosomes in vivo, does not cause detectable genetic damage, and is not a teratogen or carcinogen in man."
Well, there's the study by Sidney Cohen which was cited here recently, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 130, 1960. The following is from Jay Stevens' Storming Heaven: "Cohen surveyed a sample of five thousand individuals who had taken LSD twenty-five thousand times. He found and average of 1.8 psychotic episodes per thousand ingestions, 1.2 attempted suicides, and 0.4 completed suicides. 'Considering the enormous scope of the psychic responses it induces,' he concluded, 'LSD is an astonishingly safe drug.'"
A simple explanation of LSD flashbacks, and of their changed character after 1967, is available. According to this theory, almost everybody suffers flashbacks with or without LSD. Any intense emotional experience--the death of a loved one, the moment of discovery that one is in love, the moment of an automobile smashup or of a narrow escape from a smashup--may subsequently and unexpectedly return vividly to consciousness weeks or months later. Since the LSD trip is often an intense emotional experience, it is hardly surprising that it may similarly "flash back."
A man in his late twenties came to the admitting office in a
state of panic. Althought he had not taken any drug in approximately
2 moths he was beginning to re-experience some of the illusory
phenomena, perceptual distortions, and the feeling of union with the
things areound him that had previously occurred only under the
influence of LSD. In addition, his wife had told him that he was
beginning to "talk crazy," and he had become frightened ... He was
concerned lest LSD have some permanent effect on him. He wished
reassurance so that he could take it again. His symptoms have
subsided but tend to reappear in anxiety-provoking situations.
(Frosch et al. 1965, p. 1237)
Flashbacks are most likely to occur under emotional stress or at a time of altered ego functioning; they are often induced by conditions like fatigue, drunkenness, marihuana intoxication, and even meditative states. Falling asleep is one of those times of consciousness change and diminished ego control; an increase in the hypnagogic imagery common at the edge of sleep often follows psychedelic drug use and can be regarded as a kind of flashback.
Dreams too may take on the vividness, intensity, and perceptual peculiarities of drug trips; this spontaneous recurrence of psychedelic experience in sleep (often very pleasant) has been called the high dream (Tart 1972). Marihuana smoking is probably the most common single source of flashbacks. Many people become more sensitive to the psychedelic qualities of marihuana after using more powerful drugs, and some have flashbacks only when smoking marihuana (Weil 1970). In one study frequency of marihuana use was found to be the only factor related to drugs that was correlated with number of psychedelic flashbacks (Stanton et al. 1976).
How common flashbacks are said to be depeds on how they are defined. By the broad definition we have been using, they occur very often; probably a quarter or more of all psychedelic drug users have experienced them. A questionanaire survey of 2,256 soldiers (Stanton and Bardoni 1972), leaving the definition to the respondents, revealed that 23 percent of the men who used LSD had flashbacks. In a 1972 survey of 235 LSD users, Murray P. Naditch and Sheridan Fenwick found that 28 percent had flashbacks. Eleven percent of this group (seven men in all) called them very frightening, 32 percent called them somewhat frightening, 36 percent called them pleasant, and 21 percent called them very pleasant. Sixty-four percent said that their flashbacks did not disrupt their lives in any way; 16 percent (4 percent of the whole LSD-using group) had sought psychiatric help for them (Naditch and Fenwick 1977). In a study of 247 subjects who had taken LSD in psychotherapy, William H. McGlothlin and David O. Arnold found 36 cases of flashbacks, only one of which was seriously disturbing (McGlothlin and Arnold 1971). McGlothlin, defining flashbacks narrowly for clinical purposes as "repeated intrusions of frightening images in spite of volitional efforts to avoid them" (McGlothlin 1974b, p. 291), estimates that 5 percent of habitual psychedelic users have experienced them.
While LSD is semi-synthetic, DMT and psilocybin are found in nature.