LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)

Hallucinogenic drugs, also known as "psychedelics" change the way a person perceives the world. Hallucinogens affect the central nervous system, altering a person's thinking, sense of time and emotions. They can make a person see, hear, smell, feel or taste things that aren't really there or are different from how they are in reality.

There are many different kinds of hallucinogens. Some occur naturally, in trees, vines, seeds, fungi and leaves. Others are manufactured in laboratories.

Some examples of hallucinogens include:

  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Magic mushrooms (psilocybin)
  • Morning glory seeds
  • Datura
  • Mescaline (peyote cactus)
  • PCP (phencyclidine)
  • Ketamine

LSD is a synthesised derivative of the fungus ergot which grows on rye and other grasses. It is a highly potent drug, so only very small doses are usually taken.

What does LSD look like?

In its purest state, LSD is a white, odourless powder. It usually comes in the form of squares of gelatine or blotting paper that have been infused with the drug. LSD is also sold in liquid form, or as tablets or capsules.

How is it used?

LSD is generally used sublingually (dissolved under the tongue), swallowed, sniffed, injected or smoked.

Effects of hallucinogens

The effects of LSD and other hallucinogens also depend on the environment in which the drug is taken and the mood and expectations of the person taking it. For example, whether the person is in a good mood or feeling anxious, is alone, with others or at a party, will affect the way in which the drug works.

The effects of hallucinogens can last several hours and vary considerably depending on the specific type of hallucinogen. Some of the typical effects of hallucinogens include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Euphoria
  • Sense of relaxation and feeling of well-being
  • Hallucinations and distorted sensory processing, including visual, auditory, body, time and space perception
  • Disorganised thoughts, confusion and difficulty concentrating, thinking or maintaining attention
  • Anxiety, agitation, paranoia and feelings of panic
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired coordination

Treatment options

Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's circumstances, and usually involves a combination of counselling, group therapy, pharmacotherapy and withdrawal programs.

Source of information: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation 


LSD/hallucinogen information by the Australian Drug Foundation - Drug Info Clearinghouse

The Australian Drug Foundation is a national service aimed at helping to prevent alcohol and other drug problems, and reduce alcohol and other drug harms in the community. The ADF's information page about hallucinogens details the effects of the drug, withdrawal and treatment options.

LSD fact sheet produced by the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)

NDARC conducts research and related activities that increases the effectiveness of Australian and international treatment and other intervention responses to alcohol and other drug related harm. Their fact sheet about LSD contains information on the effects and prevalence rates of the drug.

If someone is having a "bad trip" they need to be reassured and calmed until the immediate effects have passed, although this can take many hours.

Move and speak calmly and in a confident manner, address the person by name and tell them who you are. Make sure the person and all the people around them are safe and, if possible, don't leave them alone.

What to do in a crisis

If someone has an adverse reaction while using hallucinogens, it is very important that they receive professional help as soon as possible. A quick response can save their life.

Call an ambulance by dialling 000. Don't delay because you think you or your friend might get into trouble. Ambulance officers are not obliged to involve the police.

Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives.

Reference: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation


DanceSafe is a US based nonprofit, harm reduction organisation promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community.

DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention.

National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)

NDARC conducts research and related activities that increases the effectiveness of Australian and international treatment and intervention responses to alcohol and other drug related harm.

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