April 19th is Bicycle Day. Many people will have no idea what the significance of that is, but for some, particularly academics in the field of drug development, Bicycle Day marks an important anniversary. For those struggling with LSD addiction, however, they may wish this day had never happened.

What Is Bicycle Day Then?

Bicycle Day, April 19th, marks the anniversary of the first intentional ‘trip’ on LSD. Chemist Albert Hoffmann was working in the labs at Sandoz pharmaceutical company in Basel, Switzerland. He was part of a team led by Arthur Stoll, who was working on the isolation of active compounds from the fungus ergot, which grows on rye grains.

In the 1930s, Hoffmann was working on ergotamine; an active compound isolate from ergot, and from its structure, he determined the pharmaceutically active portion – the compound lysergic acid. Unfortunately, lysergic acid is very unstable, and so he had to try and find ways of stabilising it. He found that adding amino groups made the molecule more stable. He continued working with the compound, and in 1938 lysergic acid diethylamide – LSD was made. However, Stoll did not feel that LSD had any pharmaceutical use, and it was shelved for the next five years.

Then, in April 1943, Hoffmann was preparing a fresh sample of LSD for some further study, and he experienced some odd symptoms. He said he felt “affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home, I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterised by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours. After about two hours, this condition faded away.” Hoffmann had absorbed a very tiny amount of the drug through the skin of his fingertips and experienced the effects of LSD.

He decided to investigate the effects further, and on April 19th, 1943 he dosed himself with 25 milligrammes, what he felt to be a threshold dose that would have little effect on him. Forty minutes later, he started to feel the effects; his perception was becoming altered quite intensely. He asked his laboratory assistant to help him home, their only transport being by bicycle due to the World War 2 restrictions in place, leading to possibly one of the most disturbing bicycle rides in history as anxiety and paranoia took over. Bicycle Day was born.

Hoffmann’s experiences did not put him off, and he and his colleagues continued to experiment with LSD. Hoffmann believed it could be a powerful drug for use in psychiatric treatment, and thinking it could never be used as a recreational drug due to the intense introspective effects. Sadly, despite extensive research, the increasing recreational use of LSD eventually overshadowed its potential usefulness, and by 1980 research had stopped.

What Are the Effects of LSD?

LSD is a psychedelic drug; it causes the user to have an intensely altered perception of the world around him/her. The effects can vary from alterations in colour and seeing things ripple or appear to breathe, through to full blown visual and auditory hallucinations. ‘Bad trips’, where the user experiences intensely negative emotions, anxiety, paranoia, mood swings and feelings of hopelessness, are common and occur unpredictably.

The effects of LSD can last for up to twelve hours, and users have reported having ‘flashbacks’ where they experience similar effects without having actually taken any of the drug. These can occur months or even years after use of the drug has ceased.

Users of LSD do develop tolerance for the drug, so needing increased dosages to achieve the same effects.

Why Do LSD ‘Trips’ Last So Much Longer Than Other Drugs?

Recent research into the action of LSD on the brain has shown why LSD trips last so long. Like many drugs, LSD acts on a receptor in the brain, the serotonin receptor. Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood, anxiety, and happiness. Unusually, when LSD binds to the serotonin receptor, the receptor actually folds over it, locking the drug into place. This new research has given scientists hope that LSD could be used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and addiction.

I Think I Might Be Addicted to LSD – Where Can I Get Help?

Despite its potential for treatment of some mental health disorders, LSD users are putting themselves at risk. ‘Bad trips’ are common, and can be a terrifying experience, and the potential for long-term alteration of the brain cannot be dismissed.

If you are struggling with addiction to LSD, then we can help you to find the appropriate therapy to get your life back on track. Please call our free, confidential helpline today.

Source: (Cosmo) The accidental discovery of LSD