LSD Facts and Statistics
In This Article
LSD is one of the most powerful hallucinogenic drugs ever created. Short for lysergic acid diethylamide, it's renowned for triggering intense and unpredictable psychedelic experiences in those who take it.
Of course, such a powerful substance also comes with significant risks. From underground acid culture to accidental overdoses, here are some of the most important LSD facts and statistics worth looking at.
Statistics about LSD Use
- More than 5.5 million adults in the U.S. use hallucinogens.5
- The rate of LSD use soared four-fold from 0.9% to 4% between 2002 and 2019 for users aged 18 to 25.5
- Hallucinogen use has skyrocketed since 2015 among adults aged 26+ but diminished among adolescents aged 12 to 17.5
- All generations began seeing acid use as less risky from 2002 to 2014.5
- LSD use soared by nearly 50% between 2015 (0.59%) and 2019 (0.87%).6
- Americans who have taken LSD were statistically more likely to dabble with other substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine.7
- Men are far more likely to consume acid than women.7
- LSD usage is more prevalent among adults aged 30 to 34 than younger generations.7
- The global psychedelic drugs market could reach $6,401.95 million in 2029 from $2,386.72 million in 2021.8
- Acid usage among college-educated people surged by 70% in 2020.9
- LSD use among adults aged 26 to 34 grew by 59%, 35 to 49 by 223%, and 50+ by 45%.9
- Young adults aged 18 to 25 lessened their acid consumption by 24%.9
- Over 25% of high schoolers in the U.S. admitted to having access to LSD.10
- Roughly 1.4% of U.S. high school seniors regularly consume acid.10
- Nearly 7% of high school students have experimented with LSD at least once.10
- LSD is a potent, colorless chemical derived from the lysergic acid of the ergot fungi found on rye and other grains.1
- A seemingly innocent grain fungus, ergot was a medicinal aid for childbirth, yet its deadly toxin caused the St. Anthony's Fire disease in 1951.2
- The inventor, Albert Hofmann, tested an array of compounds in 1938 before reaching the 25th combination, now known as the potent LSD-25.2
- Hoffman shelved LSD-25 for five years before rediscovering its mind-altering properties in 1943, when he accidentally exposed himself to it through his skin.2
- He reported experiencing a kaleidoscope-like stream of fantastic pictures and intense colors lasting for two hours.2
- LSD has many names, including window pane, acid, mellow yellow, and dots.3
- It has a bit of a bitter taste.3
- Acid comes in microdots or pills, blotter paper cut into little squares (one dose per cube), liquid form, or sugar cubes.3
- Users consume LSD orally.4
- Acid trips usually start around 20 to 90 minutes after ingestion, and can last as long as 12 hours.1
What Forms of LSD are Sold?
LSD comes in various forms, as stated earlier. Manufacturers can make it into tiny pellets called "microdots," small gel tablets called "window pane," saturated sugar cubes, and liquid drops.
People also use blotter paper soaked in the drug, which is cut into small squares. Each cube contains one dose of LSD.
How LSD Affects the Brain
Acid impacts the brain by interfering with serotonin. The latter is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and sensory perception. It also causes changes in cognition, emotions, and consciousness.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration:3
- Users may enter a psychedelic state in the first hour following ingestion. They will feel a drastic shift of emotion and remarkable changes in their vision.
- During a hallucination, reality becomes distorted and warped. Things may appear vastly different from their usual size or shape.
- Time might seem to crawl unbearably slowly or race ahead at breakneck speed. Even the user's body image can feel out of sorts.
- LSD also impacts the user's judgment. Consequently, they may take risks that could be dangerous or even deadly.
Overall, an acid trip can be an unpredictable ride. From mild to profound, its effects differ from person to person and depend on the environment where users take the drug.4
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Effects of LSD (Trips)
Users may experience a range of psychological and physical effects under the influence of LSD. These vary depending on the dose, setting, personality, and other substances taken.
The most common LSD effects include:
- Altered senses of time, sound, and color perception
- Enhanced imagination
- Spiritual awakenings
- Identity dissolution
- Distortions in body image
On the other hand, the physical effects of acid are:11
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dilated pupils
- Increased blood sugar
- Dry mouth
Adverse reactions may include paranoia, panic attacks, confusion, seizures, aggression, depression, or delusions.
The overall intensity of the trip (or high) depends on the dose and duration. Low doses typically cause mild to moderate effects, while higher doses produce more intense changes and severe psychosis.
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Long-Term Effects of LSD Use
Unraveling the long-term consequences of LSD remains a key research priority. However, scientists name susceptibility to addiction as a consequence for users who abuse it.
Moreover, users may still experience acid's lasting effects even after years of dabbling in it:1
- Suicidal thoughts
- Weight loss
- Speech problems
LSD Legal Status in the United States
LSD has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1966. Like heroin, it is labeled a Schedule I substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and lack of legitimate medical benefit.
Persons found in possession of acid face dire consequences. Simple possession can lead to misdemeanor charges and one-year imprisonment as a first offense. Repeated violations may carry additional jail sentences and upgraded felony charges.
Medical Research Performed with LSD
LSD was once hailed as a potential breakthrough from 1950 to 1970. Researchers studied it with enthusiasm for treating mental health issues, from anxiety to addiction.
Unfortunately, methodological flaws plagued many of these studies. Then, the focus on LSD gradually waned.
Researchers have recently reopened their investigation into acid’s therapeutic potential in the medical field.
One great example of this is the 2020 study in Spain.11 Here, scientists administered LSD to 567 people in doses ranging from 20 to 800 micrograms. Though usually given orally, one trial even utilized an IV route.
Their findings suggest that acid has vast potential for treating alcoholism. However, two participants reported experiencing psychosis and seizure, though both had a history of these conditions. Fortunately, both made a full recovery.
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- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Hallucinogens DrugFacts.” National Institutes of Health, 2022.
- Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drug Fact Sheet: LSD.” Drug Enforcement Administration, n.d.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “HALLUCINOGENS.” Get the Facts - World Drug Campaign, n.d.
- Shmulewitz, D., et al. “New Study Estimates Over 5.5 Million U.S. Adults Use Hallucinogens.” Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, 2022.
- Weleff, J., Anand, et al. “LSD use in the United States: Examining user demographics and their evolution from 2015-2019” medRxiv, 2022.
- Yockey, R. A., et al. “Trends in LSD use among US adults: 2015–2018.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2020.
- Data Bridge Market Research. “Psychedelic Drugs Market to Receive Overwhelming Growth of USD 6,401.95 Million by 2029, Size, Share, Global Industry Trends, Future Growth and Revenue Outlook.” GlobeNewswire News Room, 2022.
- Nuwer, R. “Americans Increase LSD Use—and a Bleak Outlook for the World May Be to Blame.” Scientific American, 2020.
- Simms, D. “LSD Statistics: How Many People Use LSD?” Tripsitter, 2022.
- “LSD.” Drugs.com, n.d.