'My First Time on LSD': 10 Trippy Tales
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The following first appeared on Substance.com.
"Tune in, turn on and drop out” became a rallying cry for disenfranchised youth across America during the acid heyday of the 1960s. For a generation sickened by the brutal war in Vietnam and fired up by some of the most exciting eruptions that popular culture had known, a molecule called lysergic acid diethylamide—isolated from grain fungus by Albert Hoffman in 1938 and marketed in 1947 as a psychiatric drug—became the fuel for a revolution.
For a few years every young, creative person seemed to be, for want of a better phrase, tripping balls—with profound cultural consequences. Acid’s “mind-expanding” effects can be seen in the DayGlo musical madness of Sgt. Pepper and Syd Barrett. In the art world, acid gave visual explorers like Robert Crumb and Rick Griffin a whole new palate. And in movies, LSD helped create such trippy classics as The Holy Mountain and Easy Rider.
Whether it was the bloody horror of the Manson murders or the malevolent vibes of Altamont that finally drew a curtain on LSD’s cultural supremacy, acid has never regained the heights of mass-acceptance that it enjoyed in the heady days of flower power. But it’s never quite gone away, either. Finding favor with successive generations despite competition from natural psychedelics like mescaline or designer hallucinogens like DMT, LSD is a drug that has inspired fear and passion.
LSD’s relative safety, non-addictiveness and potent psychoactive effects made it suitable for medical research, and during the ‘50s and ‘60s it was prescribed for depression, alcoholism, migraine and other physical, mental and spiritual pain. It was outlawed in the US in 1968 and classified Schedule I, as dangerous, prone to abuse and having no medical value—so research into its demonstrated therapeutic uses came to a halt. But over the past decade, scientific interest in psychedelic therapy has been rekindled in the US, the EU and elsewhere, and LSD and other hallucinogens are currently in small FDA-approved studies as psychiatric treatments for people with terminal diseases, PTSD, anxiety and depression.
Following our recent compilation of ecstasy experiences, Substance.com now asks 10 trippers two simple questions: Do you remember the first time? And where did your initial experience lead?
1. Mickey Mouse and Friends
Paul, 36, a retail manager in London
My first time: I was 15. A worldly friend—one of those 15-going-on-30-types—told me he had access to acid. I jumped at the chance to experiment with something more exotic than cheap hash and pilfered booze. My ideas about what acid was going to be like came from stuff likeFear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Carlos Castaneda. I was expecting to kick the doors of perception wide open. In retrospect this was rather a tall order when I was ingesting a single tab of mediocre Mickey Mouse-brand blotter acid. My overriding memories include the look of horror on the dealer’s face when three spotty 15-year-olds showed up on his doorstep; dissolving into fits of giggles as I tried—and failed—to get the VHS player to play the copy of Akira I’d rented for the purpose; and my friends disappearing into Cheshire Cat grins as they smoked cigarettes in my garage.
Where it went from there: I did it again when the opportunity came up. What I disliked about acid was the duration. Later, when I discovered ecstasy, my first real love affair with a drug began. The last time I did it was on the Queen’s Golden Jubilee . I dropped a tab on the tail-end of a speed, booze and ecstasy binge and wandered down East London’s Brick Lane, perplexed as everyone seemingly morphed into Jim Henson-esque creatures.