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Having read this Guardian article it seems LSD is a much less harmful drug (both to the user and to others) than alcohol. I live in the UK, where alcohol is legal to buy from age 18 (and to drink from even younger), but LSD is a class A drug - the highest classification. What's the basis for this classification?

Update: Amusingly, it seems LSD can actually help alcoholics kick the habit.

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Harmful is a very unclear term. There some evidence that's discussed in another question that indicates that alcohol consumption has a net positive effect on life span. –  Christian Mar 24 '11 at 10:51
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Bear in mind that legal drug classifications are not always based on rational grounds, and that older recreational drugs like alcohol and tobacco are grandfathered in, and therefore are legal even if they're more dangerous than some illegal drugs. –  David Thornley Mar 24 '11 at 12:19
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What is more harmful one tab of LSD or one glass of wine with a meal? One tab or one bottle of vodka in one hour? LSD taken daily or alcoholism? The spectrum of the question is too broad. But I'll take hangover instead of something playing with my mind any time :) –  Egle Mar 24 '11 at 15:23
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@Egle I'd argue that hangovers do sufficiently play with your mind. Ask anyone who has said "I'll never do that again!" on their way to a bar. –  Tim Post Mar 24 '11 at 17:13
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OK. So, when I read this, I transposed the "D" and the "S". The question then became: "Are mormons more harmful than alcohol?" –  cwallenpoole Mar 9 '12 at 16:42
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8 Answers

up vote 38 down vote accepted
+50

I hate to answer with a direct quote from wikipedia, but they do such a good job of summarising the health risks of LSD:

Whilst there have been no documented human deaths from an LSD overdose, LSD may temporarily impair the ability to make sensible judgments and understand common dangers, thus making the user more susceptible to accidents and personal injury and cause signs of organic brain damage-impaired memory and attention span, mental confusion or difficulty with abstract thinking. However LSD is physiologically well tolerated and there is no evidence for long-lasting effects on the brain or other parts of the human organism.

That's all that can really be said. There's an interesting graph right next to that paragraph on wikipedia, depicting the fact that LSD (as well as Marijuana and Psilocybin mushrooms) has a VERY low active dose to lethal dose ratio (meaning essentially no documented deaths from an overdose).

The danger of LSD, Marijuana and Psilocybin is NOT a toxic or physiologically harmful effect of the drug itself; it's the effect it has on the user's mind. In a perfectly controlled environment, LSD would not have any physiologically harmful effects when taken in recreational doses. But in the real world, the effect can sometimes be that the way the user perceives his surroundings changes drastically, while also impairing the user's ability to make reasoned decisions.

You're right in saying that alcohol does more physiological damage than LSD, and it also has a much higher addictive potential. However, those are not the properties that make LSD dangerous.

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LSD is VERY toxic, and a dose of 14mg will kill you. As typical doses of LSD are around 0.2mg - 0.5mg, LSD apostles claim physiological safety, as if it meant anything when talking about a drug that can destroy your personality and make you experience hell. –  Sylverdrag Mar 24 '11 at 11:55
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What's your source for any of these figures? There have been no documented deaths from LSD overdose, estimates for LD50 range from 200ug/kg to 1mg/kg, and average dose is around 100ug. Difficult to say how you can qualify that as "VERY toxic". –  Nellius Mar 24 '11 at 12:24
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@Sylverdrag The reason your original comment was deleted was due to its antagonistic (and now condescending) nature. I am very well aware of what an LD50 is, as I have a bachelor's degree in molecular biology. Surely the fact that there is no human death data from which to calculate an accurate LD50 nullifies your argument? You cannot measure toxicity by mass of a substance. That's what the LD50 does. And as I explained to you in my reply to your answer, it's the ratio of active dose to lethal dose which is important in drugs; not simply the lethal dose(which btw has never happened to a human) –  Nellius Mar 24 '11 at 18:58
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@Sylverdrag Wikipedia is full of fascinating and informative pages which fully explain the concept. Even reading the first paragraph of the wikipedia article on LSD (which has 112 references, most of which are academic and peer reviewed) will explain LSD to you in simple terms: "LSD is non-addictive, is not known to cause brain damage, and has extremely low toxicity relative to dose, although adverse psychiatric reactions such as anxiety or delusions are possible even at low doses." Thus, as I have said repeatedly, the harm from LSD is its mental effects, not it's phramacological effects. –  Nellius Mar 24 '11 at 19:04
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@Russell I never said that LSD has no lethal dosage. I said that there has never been a recorded case of human death due to LSD overdose, and I said that the active dose to lethal dose ratio is so low that the chance of an accidental lethal overdose of LSD is so low when compared to other recreational drugs (ie heroin) that it's barely worth considering. –  Nellius Jul 12 '11 at 23:33
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In both physical and mental health terms consuming alcohol is more dangerous than LSD, but if a person is psychologically susceptible to mental illness like psychosis or schizophrenia; taking psychoactive drugs without professional assistance could be harmful.

«...alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack (54) in second and third places. Heroin, crack, and crystal meth were the most harmful drugs to the individual, whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack were the most harmful to others. The other drugs assessed followed in this order in terms of overall harm: Crystal meth (33), cocaine (27), tobacco (26), amphetamine/speed (23), cannabis (20), GHB (18), benzodiazepines (eg valium) (15), ketamine (also 15), methadone (14), mephedrone (13), butane (10), khat (9), ecstacy (9), anabolic steroids (9), LSD (7), buprenorphine (6), mushrooms (5).»

Jan van Amsterdam, Wim van den Brink. Ranking of drugs: a more balanced risk-assessment. The Lancet, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62000-4

Imperial College London (2010, November 1). Alcohol 'most harmful drug', according to multicriteria analysis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 25, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/11/101101162138.htm

Flashback: Psychiatric Experimentation With LSD in Historical Perspective

Edited: I added sources.

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First, some data....(Mostly US data so your mileage may vary, sorry)


Alcohol (ethyl alcohol)

US Drug Schedule: None

Acute Effects/Health Risks listed by the NIDA*

"In low doses, euphoria, mild stimulation, relaxation, lowered inhibitions; in higher doses, drowsiness, slurred speech, nausea, emotional volatility, loss of coordination, visual distortions, impaired memory, sexual dysfunction, loss of consciousness/increased risk of injuries, violence, fetal damage (in pregnant women); depression; neurologic deficits; hypertension; liver and heart disease; addiction; fatal overdose."

  • Emergency department frequency
    Alcohol intoxication is common in modern society, largely because of its widespread availability. More than 8 million Americans are believed to be dependent on alcohol, and up to 15% of the population is considered at risk. In some studies, more than half of all trauma patients are intoxicated with ethanol at the time of arrival to the trauma center. In addition, ethanol is a common coingestant in suicide attempts. Drug Abuse Warning Network*: Thirty-three percent (approximately 577,521) of all drug misuse/abuse ED visits in 2006 involved the use of alcohol, either alone or in combination with another drug. DAWN reports alcohol-related data when it is used alone among individuals under the age of 21 or in combination with other drugs among all groups, regardless of age. (Because DAWN does not account for ED visits involving alcohol use alone in adults, the actual number of ED visits involving alcohol among the general population is thought to be significantly higher than what is reported in DAWN.(1))

  • Mortality/Morbidity
    Acute intoxication with any of the alcohols can result in respiratory depression, aspiration, hypotension, and cardiovascular collapse.

  • Addiction
    Alcohol problems vary in severity from mild to life threatening and affect the individual, the person's family, and society in numerous adverse ways. Despite all of the focus on drugs such as cocaine, alcohol remains the number one drug problem in the United States. According to community surveys, over 13% of adults in the United States will experience alcohol abuse or dependence (also referred to as alcoholism) at some point in their lives.

  • Psychosis
    Alcohol-related psychosis is a secondary psychosis with predominant hallucinations occurring in many alcohol-related conditions, including acute intoxication, withdrawal, after a major decrease in alcohol consumption, and alcohol idiosyncratic intoxication. Alcohol is a neurotoxin that affects the brain in a complex manner through prolonged exposure and repeated withdrawal, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Alcohol-related psychosis is often an indication of chronic alcoholism; thus, it is associated with medical, neurological, and psychosocial complications. Roughly 3% of persons with alcoholism experience psychosis during acute intoxication or withdrawal. Approximately 10% of patients who are dependent on alcohol who are in withdrawal experience severe withdrawal symptomatology, including psychosis.


LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)

US Drug Schedule: I

Acute Effects/Health Risks listed by the NIDA*

"Altered states of perception and feeling; hallucinations; nausea; increased body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure; loss of appetite; sweating; sleeplessness; numbness, dizziness, weakness, tremors; impulsive behavior; rapid shifts in emotion; Flashbacks, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder."

  • Emergency department frequency
    Emergency department (ED) visits from patients with adverse reactions to hallucinogens are relatively uncommon. In 2006, the Drug Abuse Warning Network* (DAWN) estimated 4,002 LSD related ED visits out of a total of 958,164 ED visits involving illicit drugs (approximately 1.3 ED visits per 100,000 population). However, this is a 2-fold increase in LSD-related ED visits compared with 2005. Given its popularity as a club drug, LSD-related ED visits often involve multidrug use, including MDMA and others.
  • Mortality/Morbidity
    Deaths caused by primary LSD effects have not been well documented. The lethal dose of LSD has been estimated to be 14,000 mcg. Few cases of massive ingestions have been reported; because of its large index of toxicity, patients must have access to unusually concentrated forms of LSD if they are to overdose. Massive overdoses can lead to respiratory arrest, coma, emesis, hyperthermia, autonomic instability, and bleeding disorders. No suicide attempts using LSD intoxication have been reported.

  • Addiction
    Although LSD does not cause physical or psychological addiction, users quickly develop a high degree of short-lived tolerance (tachyphylaxis), which is due to down-regulation of 5-HT2A receptors. Long-term effects of chronic use can result in persistent psychosis and hallucinogenic persisting perception disorder (HPPD), so called “flashbacks." LSD remains one of the most potent mood-altering and perception-altering drugs.

  • Psychosis
    Long-term complications may include prolonged psychotic reactions, severe depression, or an exacerbation/unmasking of a preexisting psychiatric illness. Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) diagnosis, in which patients who are not intoxicated experience symptoms (flashbacks) that occurred during the use of LSD. Patients can have both perceptual and visual disturbances during these brief episodes. HPPD may last several months; however, some patients report these experiences for as long as 5 years and often have an underlying psychiatric illness.


"What's the basis for this classification?"

As per the Controlled Substances Act (21.USC.811) :

[T]he Attorney General shall consider the following factors with respect to each drug or other substance proposed to be controlled or removed from the schedules:

  1. Its actual or relative potential for abuse.
  2. Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known.
  3. The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance.
  4. Its history and current pattern of abuse. The scope, duration, and significance of abuse.
  5. What, if any, risk there is to the public health.
  6. Its psychic or physiological dependence liability.
  7. Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter.

The bottom line: Taking drugs has risks (no comment on the classification thing).


*The National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) and the Drug Abuse Warning Network are part of the US Federal government.

  1. NIDA InfoFacts: Drug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits
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There are rational ways to assess the harmful effects of legal and illegal drugs and this one classified LSD as much less harmful than alcohol

There is a lot of debate about how to classify the harms of legal and illegal drugs. One of the major issues is that there are a variety of different ways that harm can be caused either to the user of the drug or to other people. It is not immediately obvious how to weigh up the balance of these effects.

But a rational approach to this has been attempted by Professional Psychiatrist David Nutt, the sacked chair of England's ACMD (Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs). Note that he was sacked precisely because he pointed out an apparent mismatch between the UK legislation controlling drugs and the assessment of drug harms.

The essence of Nutt's attempt to classify harms was to identify the different types of harm and then use Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) fed by expert judgements about the different types of harm to produce a rational scale classifying all substances.

The Economist provided an excellent graphical summary of Nutt's results which highlights the total harm as well as the self-harm and harm to others components.

Economist summary chart

A paper on their method from the journal The Lancet (pdf here) describes the process:

. We developed and explored the feasibility of the use of a nine-category matrix of harm, with an expert delphic procedure, to assess the harms of a range of illicit drugs in an evidence-based fashion. We also included five legal drugs of misuse (alcohol, khat, solvents, alkyl nitrites, and tobacco) and one that has since been classified (ketamine) for reference. The process proved practicable, and yielded roughly similar scores and rankings of drug harm when used by two separate groups of experts. The ranking of drugs produced by our assessment of harm differed from those used by current regulatory systems. Our methodology offers a systematic framework and process that could be used by national and international regulatory bodies to assess the harm of current and future drugs of abuse.

The resulting classification put alcohol near the top of a harm scale and psychedelic drugs like LSD near the bottom in a way that contrasts strongly with the legal classification in many countries (LSD is class A in the UK, the most dangerous category, alongside heroin and cocaine). As they comment:

Our findings raise questions about the validity of the current Misuse of Drugs Act classification, despite the fact that it is nominally based on an assessment of risk to users and society. The discrepancies between our findings and current classifications are especially striking in relation to psychedelic-type drugs. Our results also emphasise that the exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the Misuse of Drugs Act is, from a scientific perspective, arbitrary. We saw no clear distinction between socially acceptable and illicit substances. The fact that the two most widely used legal drugs lie in the upper half of the ranking of harm is surely important information that should be taken into account in public debate on illegal drug use. Discussions based on a formal assessment of harm rather than on prejudice and assumptions might help society to engage in a more rational debate about the relative risks and harms of drugs.

The study does not argue that LSD and related compounds are harmless, but classifies them in as having far fewer harms than the most dangerous compounds like heroin. And alcohol is classified in the high harms group, along with heroin or cocaine.

David Nutt has, since leaving the ACMD, written a book on the topic and founded an independent team to do research and publish the sort of results the government were not comfortable with: the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. These are worthwhile resources to consult to see how further academic research is proceeding (quick summary: LSD is still low on the harm scale).

So, in conclusion, a rational assessment of harms using expert judgement and MCDA, suggests that LSD is substantially less harmful than alcohol.

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Toxicity Classes: Gosselin, Smith and Hodge

source

SUBSTANCE: ETHYL ALCOHOL, DENATURED

TRADE NAMES/SYNONYMS:

ETHANOL, DENATURED; GRAIN ALCOHOL; ...

1400 mg/kg oral-human LDLo (lowest published lethal dose)

Source of MSDS: FISHER SCIENTIFIC CORPORATION

"...estimated lethal dose in humans may be 0.2 mg/kg or about 14,000 mcg (Klock et al. 1975)."

D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) Investigator’s Brochure Lisa Jerome January 2008

  1. John C. Klock, Udo Boerner, Charles E. Becker. Coma, Hyperthermia, and Bleeding Associated with Massive LSD Overdose a Report of Eight Cases. Clinical Toxicology; Informa Healthcare, Jan 1, 1975

Conclusion: Grain alcohol is moderately toxic and LSD is super toxic.

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Note that your ethyl alcohol source refers to denatured alcohol... This one is for the correct chemical but without ld50 for humans (fscimage.fishersci.com/msds/89308.htm). Also the forum LD50 for LSD source is not authoritative at all. Given both these measures are key here, I'd suggest you try and find better sources. –  Sklivvz Jan 5 '13 at 23:34
    
This paper seems interesting but it's behind a paywall: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4043895 –  Sklivvz Jan 5 '13 at 23:43
    
There are two cases of lethal LSD poisoning referenced in "Criminal Poisoning: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives" 2011. A 34-year old male in 1975 and a 25-year old male in 1985. –  Philip Moseman Jan 6 '13 at 0:02
    
Also - your answer is about toxicity, but the question is about harm. Why don't you expand it (or at least mention it's a partial answer)? –  Sklivvz Jan 6 '13 at 0:06
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Is LSD more harmful than Alcohol? Seeming as though a lot of people can't see how Active Dose and Lethal Dose are directly correlated, lets look at the stats: Lets take, for example, Scotland:

enter image description here http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/deaths/drug-related/2011/tables-and-figures.html

So, there are 0 listed deaths from LSD between 1996 - 2011. However - 5.8% of Scots have admitted to taking LSD - meaning that 305,000 Scots have taken LSD. There are no hard figures as to when, but even if its only half of them that have done it in that 15 year span, that's still a death per user % of 0. However, looking at evidence from ISD Scotland, we can see only an average of 21019 (0.4%) Scots took LSD in between 2008-2009: http://www.drugmisuse.isdscotland.org/publications/09dmss/09dmss.pdf

Now the alcohol stats All deaths attributed to alcohol: enter image description here http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files2/stats/alcohol-related-deaths/ard-2011-table1.pdf

Alcohol users in Scotland 2008-2009: enter image description here http://www.alcoholinformation.isdscotland.org/alcohol_misuse/files/alcohol_stats_bulletin_2011.pdf

So 13,915 adults drank regularly between 2008-2009, and in 2008 there were 1,411 deaths from alcohol. This in itself is damning evidence of the health implications caused by Alcohol.

Around 0.05% of drinkers over 30 in Scotland in 2008 died from Alcohol related illnesses, and we aren't even touching the physical, psychological and social harms caused by alcohol, the most dangerous drug.

Ironically, studies have shown LSD to have very good success in treating alcoholics, with a 58% success rate

Unfortunately there is little statistics from Scotland regarding LSD health implications as it is practically non-existent.


The unweighted base from the table titled Alcohol users in Scotland 2008-2009: indicates 13,915 adults participated in the study; this is not the number of adults who drank regularly in Scotland.

Combining this census and news-release data, indicates a population over 30 in Scotland somewhere around 3.27 million.

Extrapolating data from "Alcohol users in Scotland 2008-2009", the population of adult Scots over 30 who drank at all in 2008 is 89% or 2.9 million.

Looking at Table 1: Alcohol related deaths. By sex and age group, Scotland, 1979-2011. This table indicates 1,399 alcohol related deaths in the population over 30 years of age.

1399 / 2900000 = 0.000482414 (0.05%)

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An anonymous person proposed a (rejected) edit to this, arguing that "Deaths due to alcohol" included[ methanol and isopropanol] so direct comparisons are not this simple. –  Oddthinking Mar 29 at 5:20
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Is LSD more harmful than alcohol?

A factual comparison of two sets of categorically different adverse reactions22 is difficult. LSD produces some severe psychological reactions7 1 2 while adverse effects of alcohol are largely biological6, and an association between alcoholism and dementia remains unclear8. Despite all the years time on this pressing issue, researchers do still not know who may be predisposed to problems related with alcohol9. By comparison, 0 clinical research has been completed on LSD since 1976. Any possible psychological predisposition to LSD induced psychosis, purportedly making LSD safer17, clearly eludes typical users15 and apparently those in medical and legal professions as well16 21. Data from the medical LSD time-frame, especially those dealing with long-term outcomes, are substandard14 5 and subsequent anectodal evidence has always been complicated by a seemingly endless array of uncontrolled factors, leading to uncertainty as to what caused the harm11.

The dangers of alcohol are related to overuse10 and certain regulations of alcohol have lead to safer use18. Following guidelines presented by a medical and governmental association seems like your best bet at staying safe. These recommendations may change over time, and waiting to see results of controlled studies12, should prove worth the wait.

What's the basis for this classification?

Studies, like those associating slight alcohol use with lower risk of cardiovascular death13, have lead to recommended safe levels of consumption3 of a few drinks. Alcohol has long been manufactured for scientific research, fuel, dye, and as a medical supply, and contrary to popular myth, limited use of intoxicating liquor was never outlawed by the Volstead Act4. These metrics possibly present a basis for legality, in contrast to LSD.

Conclusion

Taking the long standing legal risk under consideration20, alcohol obviously becomes a safer choice for an individual, over LSD. While healthy food and exercise remains the safest way to acheive a cardiovascular benefit19. For mind expansion, I would suggest astronomy, art, yoga, extensive travel, and so on.

References:

  1. Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs" Why do people take hallucinogens?". National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2001.

  2. Abraham HD, Aldridge AM. Adverse consequences of lysergic acid diethylamide. Addiction; Abingdon, England: 88(10):1327-1334, 1993

  3. United States Department of Agriculture. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

  4. Volstead Act; Alcohol: Problems and Solutions.

  5. David Abrahart. A Critical Review of Theories and Research Concerning Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and Mental Health, 1998.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; FASTSTAT, Alcohol Use. 2012.

  7. DEA Public Affairs. "DEA - Publications - LSD in the US - The Drug". 2001

  8. alcohol md. Information about Alcohol and Medicine. 2011.

  9. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Administering Alcohol in Human Studies. 2012.

  10. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Jürgen Rehm, Ph.D.. The Risks Associated With Alcohol Use and Alcoholism. 2011.

  11. Blacha C. Self-inflicted Testicular Amputation in First Lysergic Acid Diethylamide Use. 2012

  12. SantaCruzPatch. Landmark Clinical LSD Study Nears Completion. 2011

  13. Klatsky. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Oakland, CA 94611. Annals of Internal Medicine [1992, 117(8):646-654]. Alcohol and mortality.

  14. McWilliams, Spencer A.. Long-term psychological effects of LSD. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 79(6), Jun 1973, 341-351.

  15. The Psychology Career Center. Diagnosing Mental Health Illness. 2008.

  16. Assen Jablensky. Prevalence and incidence of schizophrenia spectrum disorders: implications for prevention. 2002.

  17. Lamont Grandquist. LSD The facts! Information about the Health Effects of LSD. 1992.

  18. Gruenewald, Paul. Regulating Availability: How Access to Alcohol Affects Drinking and Problems in Youth and Adults. 2011.

  19. ValerieL. What Are the Benefits of Eating Healthy & Exercising?. 2010

  20. CriminalDefenseLawyer.com Possession of LSD: Defense and Impact of Conviction. 2013.

  21. Dr. Shaw, Jenny, et al. Prevalence and detection of serious psychiatric disorder in defendants attending court. 1999.

  22. Woo-kyoung Ahn, Caroline C. Proctor, and Elizabeth H. Flanaganb. Mental Health Clinicians’ Beliefs About the Biological, Psychological, and Environmental Bases of Mental Disorders. 2009

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I am posting a separate answer to address more specifically the toxicity issue and the issue of misrepresentation of research data which I think is very pertinent to this question and to Skeptics in general.

Nellius brought my attention to the introduction of the Wikipedia LSD article:

Even reading the first paragraph of the wikipedia article on LSD (which has 112 references, most of which are academic and peer reviewed) will explain LSD to you in simple terms: "LSD is non-addictive, is not known to cause brain damage, and has extremely low toxicity relative to dose, although adverse psychiatric reactions such as anxiety or delusions are possible even at low doses."

Sounds pretty safe, doesn't it? Looks like the matter is closed and fully answered. After all, 112 academic & peer reviewed references couldn't be wrong.

Not quite. A closer look at the Wikipedia article shows that only 1 out of 112 references directly concerns LSD toxicity.

http://www.maps.org/w3pb/new/2008/2008_Passie_23067_1.pdf

Now, what does that reference say? (A paper very much in favor of LSD, BTW)

There have been no documented human deaths from an LSD overdose. Eight individuals who accidentally consumed a very high dose of LSD intranasally (mistaking it for cocaine) had plasma levels of 1000–7000 μg per 100 mL blood plasma and suffered from comatose states, hyperthermia, vomiting, light gastric bleeding, and respiratory problems. However, all survived with hospital treatment and without residual effects [56].

Let's read this again. Plasma levels of 1mg to 7mg per 100mL caused comatose states. An average human body contains 2.7l to 3 L of blood plasma. Assuming they were big guys with 3L of blood plasma each, we can deduce that the total quantity of LSD in the plasma was between 30mg and 210mg.

So less than a gram of LSD each was enough to put 8 men (or women, the reference does not specify) in a comatose state with serious respiratory problems.

They survived the hospital treatment. Would they have survived without hospital treatment? Would they have survived 2 grams of LSD?

As a matter of comparison, the lethal dose of arsenic is 0.6mg/kg/day. So for a 80kg adult, the lethal dose would be 48mg.

Slice it or dice it anyway you like, LSD is a highly toxic substance. It is NOT a "safe" substance by any stretch of imagination.

I very much agree that psychotropic effects of LSD are much more dangerous than the physiological effects. They can make a sane person clinically mad for a period of 12 hours.

But calling LSD "safe and non-toxic" is like calling arsenic "safe and non toxic". It's a lie.

In regards to the comparison between LSD and alcohol, the comparison is not valid, on any level.

Alcohol and LSD are two chemical substances that can have mind altering effects. There ends the similarity.

The effects are different, the consequences are different, the dosages are different, the social context and the infrastructures are different,...

An artificial comparison is made with alcohol in an effort to make LSD appear safer and more acceptable. It's a marketing effort, but has no valid scientific grounds. You can only compare meaningfully things which are sufficiently related. Alcohol and LSD are to different for a side by side comparison.

You want a comparison between alcohol and LSD? Fine. Here you go:

1 mg of LSD will put you in a comatose state and probably kill you without medical intervention.

1 mg of vodka intake barely has any noticeable effect.

A 100µg p.o. dose of LSD will trigger a psychotic state complete with hallucinations that will last about 10 hours.

A 100µg dose of alcohol... you're kidding, right?

Bottom line is that the comparison between LSD and alcohol is not valid. It is just a marketing attempt for LSD.

And since we are on Skeptics, remember that there is a point in figuring out where your data come from and whether or not these data sources had vested interests. That a substance with toxicity levels close to that of arsenic is listed as "safe and non toxic" in Wikipedia and on drug-friendly sites should be a major red flag.

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You seem to misunderstand the very basics of pharmacology. You are comparing substances by mass, and you're treating a couple of dozen milligrams of a substance as if it's a tiny amount which could be taken accidentally. The active dose of LSD is ~25µg, and so your "1mg of LSD" should read "40 doses of LSD". 40 doses of LSD and 40 doses (shots) of vodka will have similarly bad effects on your body. Sure, alcohol can be ingested in grams rather than µg, but the active dose is a lot higher, so your comparison isn't at all valid. –  Nellius Mar 25 '11 at 9:16
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@Sylverdrag Of course not. I've lost count of the times I've mentioned active dose to lethal dose ratio. I'm not saying LSD is safe by any means. But you seem utterly convinced that it's mega toxic, which it really isn't. The danger is, as I've said many times now, from the effect it has on the MIND, not the effect it has on the body. Take a megadose of any drug and it will kill you. But since a lethal dose of LSD is potentially hundreds of times the active dose, it's not a very high priority risk compared with the mental and psychological effects. –  Nellius Mar 25 '11 at 10:26
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@Nellius: There are some practical considerations in regards to the "active dose vs lethal dose". In a lab, there is little risk anyone will confuse 100µg and 1g of LSD. But step out of the lab and in the junkie scene, and you get idiots who definitely will snort half a gram of the stuff without thinking, like the 8 morons mentioned previously. And while 1mg is "40 doses" (btw, a dose is around 100-200µg), 1mg isn't a whole lot of powder. 40 shots of vodka = 1.5 bottles (standard portion for a Russian male ;). Kind of hard to shug it down by accident. –  Sylverdrag Mar 25 '11 at 10:59
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Most of the time LSD will be found in 'tabs' which are doses already measured out. I guess it would be very rare to even be able to consume a whole mg, especially mistakenly. –  rmx Mar 25 '11 at 12:41
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@Sylverdrag There is no such thing as an LSD junkie (I'm sure there are junkies that take LSD but that's different). Junkies are into stuff that is light-years beyond LSD...so yeah you might run into a junkie that dosed a mg or two. –  Rusty Mar 26 '11 at 8:05
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protected by Oddthinking Dec 2 '13 at 11:18

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