Since its first documented use in 1943, lysergic acid diethylmide, or LSD, has grown to be one of the most potent and controversial drugs in society today. The ways in which LSD produces its effects within the brain is still unknown, and no practical use has been found for it. However, this substance has been described to give incredible insight and revelation to some of those that have taken it, although others have had frightening and nightmarish experiences. LSD is an unpredictable and possibly dangerous substance, but can and has changed the lives of many.
A Swiss chemist named Dr. Albert Hoffman first produced lysergic acid diethylmide -or best Known as LSD in 1938 (Dye, p. 2). Hoffman discovered the drug while trying to synthesize a new drug for the treatment of headaches. He obtained the lysergic acid from the parasitic fungus that grows on rye plants known as ergot. From the lysergic acid, he synthesized the compound LSD.
He used the compound to test for its pain killing properties on laboratory animals. Being that appeared totally ineffective, the bottle of LSD was placed on a shelf and remained untouched for five years. On April 16, 1943, Dr. Hoffman decided to do further research with the LSD compound (Dye, p.
5). While handling the drug, he accidentally ingested an unknown amount. Then he experienced the world's first LSD trip. About eight hours later Hoffman drifted back into normal reality and the Psychedelic Revolution was born.
Three days later, in an attempt to prove that the previous episode was indeed caused by the ingestion of LSD, Dr. Hoffman ingested what he thought would be a small quantity of LSD, 250 micrograms. In actuality, this is approximately five times the dosage necessary to produce heavy hallucinations in the average adult male (Solomon, p. 34). The drug produced effects that were much more intense than the first time Hoffman took the LSD.
He noted that he felt unrest, dizziness, visual disturbances, a tendency to laugh at inappropriate times, and a difficulty in concentration (Dye, p. 7). Dr. Hoffman's condition improved six hours after taking the drug, although visual disturbances and distortion continued.
LSD was first shipped to the United States in 1949 (Solomon, p. 54). American scientists tested LSD on animals to learn of its effects. It produced dramatic behavior changes in all animals investigated. During the 1950's, experimentation of LSD on humans began (Solomon, p. 56).
Since there were few restrictions on human experimentation at the time, scientists were free to administer the drug widely, hoping to find some useful therapeutic value for the drug. Because of Hoffman's LSD account of depersonalization produced by the drug, early studies were done using the drug to treat various psychiatric disorders. It was believed that if a person could 'step outside' themselves and view situations in a different perspective, they could reevaluate their problems and be able to alleviate them. One of the first areas of LSD experimentation was in treating alcoholism (Dye, p.
36). After extensive research, it was concluded that LSD was not effective on treating alcoholism and the research was discontinued. LSD was also tested on.