LSD Becoming Popular Again, While Still Dangerous

The hallucinogenic drug LSD is enjoying a resurgence of sorts, in spite of the risks involved in taking it, according to several reports, which have examined the growing use of the drug. LSD use has most recently hit headlines as a result of the tragic death of Australian rocker Nick Cage’s son, Arthur, who plunged off a cliff following what coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said was an instance of “… lads who were inquiring and experimenting and it’s what kids do all the time, and most of the time … they get away with it, except on sad occasions like this,” according to the Examiner.

By Psychonaught (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In addition, a student at Northern Illinois University was found to have died as a result of LSD use. Student Oluwarotimi Okedina died after falling out of a window in the Stevenson Towers residence hall complex at the end of September, 2015. The investigation, which wrapped up at the end of October, found that “The presence of LSD and cannabis in his system impaired his judgment and caused him to ignore the risk of exiting the room through the window, which resulted in the fall,” according to Chief of Police Thomas Phillips. The investigation’s conclusions were reported by Northern Public Radio.

Given the significantly impaired judgment that often accompanies LSD use, why is it becoming increasingly popular to take the drug once again? After being first synthesized in 1938 by chemist Albert Hofmann, its psychoactive properties were accidentally discovered in 1943 when Hofmann ingested a tiny portion of the LSD he’d synthesized and reported that he saw an “uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, [and] extraordinary shapes with [an] intense, kaleidoscopic play of colour.” The drug was banned from the U.K. as a medical treatment in 1973.

Part of the reason for LSD’s return could be the return of 1970s fashions, and what is fashionable becomes what is popular. According to Amanda Feilding of the Beckley Foundation, an agency that researches psychedelic drugs and their use, LSD presents few dangers in a safe environment. She notes that the drug is non-toxic, and can be useful under the “right conditions,” according to the Week.

However, LSD is also relatively scarce, and that could also be another reason why its popularity has surged once again. Professor Fiona Measham says that some users could be shunning the current spate of recreational drugs simply because they are so readily available, where LSD is not. Measham currently chairs the working group on polysubstance use for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in the United Kingdom.

By Psychonaught (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

According to statistics released today, about one in 200 youth in the United Kingdom — roughly 0.4 percent of the youth population — are using LSD. Almost 200,000 youth used LSD in the past year alone, and these figures are about a 40 percent climb from the previous year. Among those aged 16 to 59 years of age, there has been an increase in LSD use of about 117 percent. Conversely, drug use among those aged 11 to 15 has dipped to a low that has not been recognized in the country since 1982.

Policing minister Mike Penning said that the United Kingdom’s approach to drugs appears to be working well. He said, according to the Guardian, that there has been a long-term downward trend as far as drugs, including LSD, were concerned.

“However, we continue to be concerned about the harms caused by drug misuse, including ecstasy and other class A drugs, new psychoactive substances and prescription only medicines,” he added.

Feilding reported that she had anecdotal evidence that led her to believe that LSD was perhaps not quite as scarce as others might believe.

“There was a kind of great shortage (of LSD) and now I think more people have got into it,” she said.

[Photo By Psychonaught (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]