Leslie A McCullough & Ambassador College Research Department
What is LSD? Is it harmless, as many claim? Is it addicting? How does it affect the human mind and body? Why are many "tripping" on LSD, and heatedly claiming it is GOOD? Here is the inside story — shocking, sobering, starkly grim.
Sure it's dangerous," said an acidhead. "But so is everything I enjoy. Why should I worry about my chromosomes when everything else in the world is so messed up?" "Blow your mind, turn on, tune in, drop out." This is the slogan of young drug faddists. According to them, if you don't take drugs, you're absolutely "NOWHERE."
One LSD tripper took the drug and believed that he could fly. He jumped out of a 10-story window and fell to his death on the street below. He really ended up — nowhere! Another, driving his car while under the influence of LSD, looked on all the red lights as something beautiful, beckoning him onward. He crashed and killed the occupants of another car. One young fellow took LSD once. It didn't turn him on so he quit. Two years later he suffered a severe mental breakdown! A 17-year-old, high on LSD, thought he was losing his sight because of the drug and tried to tear out his eyeballs "so my eyes can see." Another youth took the drug and was impelled to a compulsive search for someone to rape! One fellow, a heavy user, is totally convinced that he is an orange. He is by afraid if anyone touches him he may turn into orange juice. Case after case could be cited — hundreds and thousands of them. Said Dr. J. Thomas Ungerleider, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA Medical Center: "It is totally UNPREDICTABLE who will have a bad experience. You can have 100 good trips — then a bummer. Even one trip will do it." Dr. Marvin Block, vice-president of the U.S. National Council on Alcoholism, said a "successful" trip with LSD is about as rare as a successful swim across the top of Niagara Falls! He told a group of 650 teenagers there were 250 young people confined to Bellevue Hospital in New York who were "totally insane only through use of LSD." He warned they would never recover!
Search for Identity
Most LSD users fall within the 1830 age group. Most users of the drug have been students or "dropouts" searching for a meaning to life, looking for a new standard of values to live by. Said Dr. Allan Y. Cohen, a former associate of Timothy Leary, "I once thought that LSD and other psychedelic drugs supplied answers. I 'tuned in, turned on, dropped out' for three years.... I saw that drugs do NOT make better people. There were still laziness, arguments, fear — it added up to 'psychedelic hypocrisy.' Sure, we talked love, brotherhood, God — but when we were honest, we admitted that LSD was not as advertised." Dr. Cohen admitted, "I saw that LSD users — myself included — did not live any more spiritual lives, although they thought they were very spiritual people." What is the full story about LSD? What is the truth about this mind-bending drug? Is it really harmless, as some insist? Is it addicting? How does it affect the human mind and body?
The world today is discontented. People are frustrated as never before. Massive human problems plague the human race — from war in Vietnam to the threat of famine; from crises in the Mideast to riots and crime. Marriage problems, competition in business, immorality and strife — these and millions of other worries cause millions to seek escape, a way "out of it all." People today often seek "instant courage," or "instant relief." They want to experience new kicks, or intensify old thrills. Many thousands, in order to "get away from it all," attempt to draw a chemical curtain between themselves and REALITY! In the United States, several millions have become drug dependent or drug oriented. They cannot sleep, wake up or feel comfortable without drugs. The struggle to escape reality approaches a near mania. While adults heedlessly gulp barbiturates or amphetamines, youngsters turn to pot (marijuana), or "acid" (LSD). Thousands are actually going OUT OF THEIR MINDS in a futile, tragic, empty search for relief, escape, new thrills! From college students and teenagers to people in every walk of life, from middleclass to upper class homes, people are exhorted to abdicate their responsibilities, drop out of the "rat race," and lose their minds in a euphoric mental nirvana! Like dumb sheep, they are complying with those exhortations in ever-increasing numbers. They are leaving their homes, schools and friends. Thousands of them are even abdicating their place in organized society in favor of the communal life of the "hippies."
Worst Problem in Colleges
Drugs and their misuse have become one of the biggest problems facing U.S. colleges and universities. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) if not the most widespread has certainly been one of the worst of a dizzying lineup of mind-bending materials. The problem reached such proportions that Dr. James L. Goddard, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, felt compelled to issue a stern letter of warning to the officials of more than 2,000 American colleges and universities. He warned that unless concerted action were taken by college officials, "an untold number of our students may suffer permanent mental and physical injury."
Estimates of those who have used LSD range from about 50,000 (very conservative) to 500,000 (a much more likely figure). Some estimates go as high as one million (Dr. Timothy Leary). Figures vary on the number of college students who have used or are using the drug. One estimate puts the figure at one percent of all college students. Others are not so conservative. Said a person from Greenwich Village, "Here in the Village you can't walk down the street without bumping into a head (LSD users are called acidheads). From my own experience I can tell you of four large universities in this area where at least 40 percent of the student body has a nodding acquaintance with LSD, if they haven't already tried it." He added, "Don't undersell the widespread use of LSD. Most of it is underground, but it is there, make no mistake about that." Dr. Timothy Leary, high priest and apostle of the LSD movement, said in April 1966, "It is estimated that well over 100,000 Americans have taken the timeless voyage through their nervous systems — have had the veil of symbolic illusion lifted for a few hours. The next decade is going to be the most exciting period in human history." He declared, somewhat naively, "I predict that by 1970 between 10,000,000 and 30,000,000 Americans will have talked to their cells." In a student survey conducted at the world-famous California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, out of the 1,290 filling out the questionnaire, nearly TWENTY PERCENT admitted the use of marijuana, one of the milder hallucinogens. Another NINE PERCENT affirmed they had tried LSD. Fifty percent of the undergraduates who have used LSD said it had been in the last month. There was no indication by any of those interviewed that they would discontinue their use of the illicit drugs (Los Angeles Times).
Power of a Cube
LSD trippers, in describing their "trip," often speak of God, hell, nirvana, terror, revelation, ecstacy, horror, fear or anguish, joy, madness, beauty, ugliness. Very little is really known about LSD's effects after it enters the body. What is known gives experts a real fright. LSD is so potent that less than two pounds of the stuff would be enough to send the entire population of New York City on a psychedelic trip to never-never land! A little more than forty pounds would be enough to send everybody in the United States on a psychedelic voyage into "inner space." One ounce of LSD powder represents about 300,000 doses of 100 micrograms each. A small envelope may transport 10,000 doses through the, mails. A box of facial powder could hold 15,000 doses. One kilo, which could supply 10 million doses of 100 micrograms, would have a street value (illicit) of $50 million!
History of LSD
Illegal use stems from 1949 when knowledge of LSD and its reactions was confined to psychiatrists and psychologists who were using it in scientific experimentation only. In the early 1950's, the philosopher Aldous Huxley began to suggest its potential as a "mind-expanding" agent. Huxley's preachments met with ready acceptance by a small group of teachers, headed by Dr. Timothy Leary of Harvard. The use of students in mind-expanding experiments at the university's Center for Research and Personality gained wide notoriety and resulted in Leary's being dismissed from the university. Today, Leary has a wide following and is known as the founder and high priest of the League for Spiritual Discovery — the first modern psychedelic religion. The League was founded to give credence to Leary's fight with the U.S. government over a thirty-year indictment for illegally transporting untaxed marijuana.
Only a few short years ago, the demented, mentally incompetent or insane person was to be pitied. Today, to "blow your mind" with drugs has come to represent, for many, a plane of intellectual development. It has become the "in thing" to do among those seeking new experiences or escape from life's problems. You are supposed somehow to "find yourself" in insanity. According to Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, another former Harvard psychologist and principal proponent of consciousness-expanding agents, "It becomes necessary for us to go out of our minds in order to use our head?' (David Solomon, LSD: The Consciousness-Expanding Drug, New York: Putnam's Sons, 1964, Introduction, p. xiii) Dr. James L. Goddard, former Commissioner of Food and Drugs, while testifying before the Senate in May, 1966, said, "The records of many hospitals show the admission of patients who have taken this drug and have literally LOST THEIR MINDS. They have lost the power to think and to reason and to create — LOST all power to use what is so fundamental to a life of achievement" (Margaret Kreig, Black Market Medicine, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967, p. 294). Yet LSD and other hallucinogens are purported to expand the mind and to make it function in new inventive and creative ways!
Today, LSD is as close to you as your nearest college campus. At $3 to $5 a "cap," or dose, many student distributors pay their way through college at the expense of others. One student dealer told of selling 450 LSD capsules in a ten-day period. He estimated 200 to 400 students at one of the prominent colleges use LSD EVERY WEEKEND! Fear of possible dangers is all that keeps thousands more from "taking a trip" — yet fear isn't sufficient to keep others from getting "high" two or three times weekly. Although loudly proclaimed to be nonaddicting, "acid" — LSD — causes many students to become habituated. They drop out of school, work, and society to pursue the fleeting pleasures of LSD. The "acid-heads" then become obsessed with an almost missionary zeal "to turn other people on." Not content to be quietly insane by themselves, they want to introduce others to the mysteries of LSD.
What Is LSD?
LSD is 100 times more powerful than psilocybin, a hallucinogenic derivative of the Mexican mushroom. It is 200 times more powerful than the narcotic cocaine, and 7,000 times as powerful as the peyote derivative, mescaline. Within fifteen to forty-five minutes after taking the average dose of 200 to 250 micrograms of the colorless liquid, the user literally GOES OUT OF HIS MIND! Time and space become distorted. Colors intensify. Sounds take on greater depth, and many claim the ability to actually see musical notes suspended in the air. Colors throb, and sounds have color. Moods fluctuate widely from anxiety to fear, to panic, to ecstasy. The mind becomes completely short-circuited. The forerunner of LSD was known and used by the ancients in the practice of medicine. Centuries ago, European midwives used a black smutty substance derived from the diseased kernels of rye in the delivery of babies. The substance, now known as "ergot," is the result of a microscopic fungus (Claviceps purpurea). The spore of the fungus entered the ovary of a maturing kernel of rye bringing about the ergot (Norman Taylor, Narcotics: Nature's Dangerous Gifts, New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1966, p. 196). The midwives recognized the highly toxic nature of the ergot and used it most circumspectly. Accidently given in the first or second stage of labor, it frequently caused death. In the third stage, however, its action never failed to induce active contraction of the uterus. Centuries passed before a loathsome physical disease known as St. Anthony's Fire was traced to the pathogenic ergot. In the 1950s, the mold on wheat caused virtually a whole town to go "insane" — hundreds were afflicted by a strange madness. Authorities finally traced the cause to an imported wheat mold or fungus apparently akin to LSD. In 1938 a Swiss chemist, Dr. Albert Hoffman, conducted a series of tests with various derivatives of lysergic acid, a component of ergot. On the twenty-fifth try, he produced the now familiar LSD. After swallowing some of his discovery, he wrote: "I lost all control of time; space and time became more and more disorganized and I was overcome with fears that I was growing crazy. The worst part of it was that I was clearly aware of my condition, though I was incapable of stopping it. Occasionally I felt as being outside my body. I thought I had died" (Taylor, Narcotics: Nature's Dangerous Gifts, p. 200). Unfortunately, Dr. Hoffman's fears were realized... he did become temporarily insane! Continued experimentation led psychiatrists to assume LSD would be valuable in the treatment of alcoholism and psychoneurosis. After nearly twenty years of research and 2,000 papers published in scientific journals, NO VALID MEDICAL USE HAS AS YET BEEN FOUND! (Bureau of Drug Abuse Control, Fact Sheet No. 5, Food and Drug Administration — U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare — Washington, D.C., August 25, 1966)
What Are the Dangers?
The penalties for playing this drug version of Russian roulette can be awesome. For a few hours of hopefully blissful contemplation, the possible repercussions are a frightening price. Psychic damage, personality damage, brain damage, epileptic seizures, genetic damage and physical crippling have all occurred in connection with the use of LSD! Add to these fearsome possibilities the automobile accidents and other cases of misjudgment resulting from the use of any mind-expanding materials and you have a powerful case for abstinence. Consider the possibilities of genetic damage. Dr. Maimon M. Cohen and Michelle J. Marinello of the State University of New York studied the effects of LSD on human chromosomes — the heredity-transmitting factors of the body. The results are sobering. Geneticist Cohen found the same type of chromosomal damage occurred from LSD as that which results from radiation poisoning and intense X-ray exposure ("LSD May Damage Chromosomes," Science News, XCI, April 1, 1967, p. 312). His findings were further verified by additional studies conducted at the Oregon Regional Primate Center and the University of Oregon Medical School. Dr. Jose Egozcue said, "The damage seems to be related to the amount of LSD used" (Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1967). Abnormalities were found more frequently among those using doses of 300 micrograms or more. One young mother in Portland, Oregon, had taken a single dose of LSD in the first month of her pregnancy. Her baby was found to be suffering from Hirschspring's Disease, a defect of the lower intestinal tract that interferes with bowel movements. The child also had hyperplasis of the face — the right side of the head was developed far more than the left. "From what we know," the geneticist said, "the baby would have abnormalities if the mother had taken large doses of LSD in the first three months she was pregnant. The drug could be as dangerous to a developing fetus as Thalidomide" (Bill Davidson, "The Hidden Evils of LSD," Saturday Evening Post; August 12, 1967, p. 20).
That's Not All
There is no other drug used so promiscuously which is as dangerous as LSD. IT IS ABSOLUTELY UNPREDICTABLE! Look at the record from just one hospital in New York. In the 114 (LSD) cases hospitalized in a period of 18 months at Bellevue, the average age was 23 years. Thirteen percent entered the hospital with overwhelming panic. There was uncontrolled violence in 12 percent. Nearly 9 percent had attempted homicide or suicide — none successfully. One out of seven had to be sent on from Bellevueto long-term mental hospitalization, and half of those had no previous history of underlying psychiatric disorder. One student who took LSD broke his back. He suffered spasms and convulsions so violent that he broke two vertebrae. After recovery he tried the drug again four more times. The fifth time, he had another massive epileptic attack which finally convinced him to quit. Other grand mal, or epileptic seizures have been reported in persons who had no history of such an affliction until using LSD (Davidson, "The Hidden Evils of LSD"). Reports of psychotic episodes continue in spite of the efforts of the psychedelic community to play them down. At UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute, LSD psychotics have become so numerous they are no longer admitted — instead they are sent directly to Camarillo, the state mental hospital. Dr. Duke D. Fisher, psychiatric resident, said, "We were overwhelmed with LSD cases to the extent that we didn't have room for normally disturbed persons — no joke intended" (Davidson, "The Hidden Evils of LSD").
No Safe Way to Take LSD!
Psychiatric interviews and psychological testing do not screen out those who may suffer from a bad trip. Physicians and other professionals who appear stable by every indication often produce the worst reactions. Dr. William A. Frosch of the New York University Medical Center reported that more than 200 patients a year are being admitted to the Bellevue Hospital psychiatric wards, suffering various grades of LSD-induced paranoia and schizophrenia. Some cases are so bad, said Dr. Frosch, "that we have had to transfer them to state mental hospitals, and the patients are still committed there after more than a year." NO ONE USING LSD IS IMMUNE! LSD can lead straight to INSANITY! If you "blow your mind" you may never get it back in this life! Warns the Los Angeles Police Department, "Epileptic seizures, panic, depression, hallucinations, anxiety, confusion, suicidal tendencies, successful suicides, prolonged psychosis, and even homicides have been the product of this psychedelic substance." One man slept on a floor because he thought his bed was only two inches long. Another man felt he had to offer a human sacrifice and tried to throw his girl friend off a building. A third man was standing on a cliff; he wanted to dive into the waves below because they resembled a silk scarf! A writhing, screaming girl was taken to a hospital convinced she was shedding her skin like a snake. A Los Angeles woman shed her clothes and ran naked through the streets searching for cleansing from her sins. A husband who took LSD thought he was Christ; his wife, who also took it, believed him. One young man took LSD and felt omnipotent. He ran out on the freeway to play with the "toy" cars and was killed. Declared one tragic victim: "Yes, officer, I'm under the influence of LSD, but I haven't taken any for eight weeks. I see worms crawling out of my fingers. They are little black worms and I pick them out of my fingers and throw them on the floor. I see the same worms crawling right back in the same holes. I have worms crawling out of my ears, eyes and head and neck. My teeth are on fire. My eyeballs feel like buckets of blood." Reaction to taking LSD can range from false peace to panic; from delirious fantasy to overwhelming fear; from other-worldly visions to revulsion and shrieking horror. Hard-core LSD addicts who inject it into their bloodstream — "mainline" it for a faster result — have come down with hepatitis, local abscesses, endocarditis and other diseases.
The New Fad
LSD use appears, for the moment, to be declining. It is being replaced by a wide variety of substitutes — one even more harmful than LSD. Many young people have taken up smoking aspirin, ingesting Ban deodorant, Accent flavoring and Murine eyewash. Worse, however, is the fact that others are experimenting with the drug methedrine — popularly known as "speed." "SPEED KILLS" is more than a mere slogan. A year ago hippies turned on with "weeds and beads." Now the slogan is "crystals and pistols." The crystals are the drug methedrine and the pistols refer to the increase in VIOLENCE among hippie flower children. In 1968, almost all the 20 or so who were daily admitted to San Francisco General Hospital because of drugs were suffering acute psychotic episodes caused by methedrine, or "speed." Authorities estimated that as many as 5,000 acidheads in the San Francisco area used "speed" for their kicks. Dr. Donald Louria warned, "Many who have decided LSD is not safe now go the route from marijuana to speed." Methedrine is one of the highly dangerous amphetamines. Abuse of the amphetamines can cause a blackout from exhaustion or even schizophrenic symptoms. Users of this drug may become violent, and are prone to pneumonia, malnutrition and exhaustion. Other effects may be high blood pressure, heart attacks, permanent brain damage. Sociologist Lewis Yablonsky, who conducted a national survey of the hippies, estimated that some 40 percent of the hard-core hippies have turned to speed or methedrine. They have become "SPEED FREAKS," Or "METH MONSTERS," whichever you prefer to call them. One user of speed declared, "The first time on speed is a beautiful high, but then it twists your head up and you become weird and violent. You can kill someone in a minute." Says one authority, after a person first uses speed, his or her life expectancy is a short FIVE YEARS! Another one of the new hallucinogens replacing LSD among many drug users is called STP (don't confuse it with the automobile additive). The effects of this drug are similar to a secret military nerve gas. STP is in widespread use in California. Users describe STP as a "mega-hallucinogen" and as "the caviar of psychedelics." They claim it takes three to four days to "come down" from an STP trip, whereas one dose of LSD usually lasts from 8 to 12 hours. Can you imagine willingly giving up control of your mind even minutes, much less hours or days? Yet multiple thousands have turned to hallucinogens for escape from a boring, tedious life, in spite of the brain-chilling risks involved. When they regain their minds, if they do, the realities of life still stare bleakly back at them. Ifs they don't recover, stark confrontation with naked facts remains for their loved ones. Speed and STP don't help. There are no answers in "acid."