Use of LSD by teen-agers is on the rise


July 21, 1992|By Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe | Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe,Contributing Writers

Q: I've read reports that LSD use among teen-agers in parts of Maryland is on the rise. I thought the drug went out of style in the '60s.

A: Although government statistics show an overall downward trend for drug use among high school seniors, such a trend is not so evident for lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Since 1984, the percent of teens using this drug has gone up: 1.9 percent of high school seniors answered they had used it in the last 30 days. Reports of increased use have been noted throughout the country.

LSD is a synthetically derived hallucinogen and is hundreds to thousands of times more potent than the naturally occurring hallucinogens psilocybin and mescaline. It is known for the dramatic alterations in visual perceptions it induces. Users may become quite distraught and are at risk for accidents if unsupervised. Severe psychiatric reactions (psychoses) can also occur, usually among teens who have had previous psychiatric problems. These problems often require long-term treatment. Occasionally, an adolescent will commit suicide during a psychotic reaction.

The "chromosome breakage" attributed to LSD in the '60s has not been confirmed, but the "flashback" experience has: An individual can relive the drug experience without ingesting more LSD.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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