The first time I ever heard of LSD was when I was having a friendly who-knows-drugs-better conversation with my brother. We threw around terminology that we knew back and forth, told stories of people we (sort of) knew who had done hard drugs and even talked about the horror stories of sorority girls who died from an overdose on some obscure combination of pastel colored pills.
As we were talking, my brother brought up a foreign topic. In his best mature voice, he said, “Well, I know someone who took LSD.” I didn’t have a clue what it was.
When I was growing up, I didn’t have to worry about LSD, seeing as I grew up in a very nice neighborhood and didn’t know anyone from outside of my prep school bubble until I was 14. So naturally, I questioned my brother about this so-called drug. What was it? What did it feel like to take it? Was it even worse than meth, the most terrible drug?
But LSD became more prevalent as I got older and watched my friends go to raves and MTV air old concerts of venues packed with crazy teens who where drunk, high or a combination of both. Every time I saw LSD on social media or heard my friends talk about some poor girl who had sustained serious brain damage after using the drug, I cringed. Naturally, I associated LSD with a deathly connotation.
That is, until now. Meet Peter Gasser, the only doctor who can legally prescribe LSD.
Gasser started his LSD research with just a few scientists in Switzerland who could legally implement MDMA, or Ecstasy, and LSD into their research. The selected scientists proceeded to use this psychoactive treatment on themselves to study their effects.
In 2007, Gasser conducted a study that investigated the side effects of LSD administered to patients who had cancer or some other terminal disease. This study found curious results, with people benefiting from the use of LSD when they had cancer or another equally terrible disease. Gasser claimed to see better psychological health in his patients who take LSD to cope with some hard burdens. The study found that people who are confronted with “existential issues” may curate some unhealthy anxiety. Taking LSD helps to deal with the questions one may have about life.
Even though only cancer patients are currently using the drug, Gasser said that many other people, even perfectly healthy people, could benefit from the high that helps mental cognition. Gasser described an LSD “session” as if it is some type of appointment with the end goal of using the right anesthetic to put a person out of pain during a surgery.
Gasser also explained that administering LSD is a process, and is situational — too little and it could be ineffective, too much and it could lead to death. In an example, Gasser told of a young man who was studying for his Ph.D. in philosophy, but who suffered from severe anxiety. After a few LSD sessions, the patient reported feeling unthreatened in a group setting, which was a breakthrough for the research and the patient himself.
Gasser’s research represents the trend of society becoming more accepting of drugs that are currently regarded as the bane of young adult existence. With talk of legalization of recreational drugs and the acceptance of those who need help with addiction issues, people are becoming more acquainted with the idea of a close relationship with drugs. And maybe in the near future, we’ll start to see twenty-somethings reappear on the corner of Haight and Ashbury tripping out and seeing “all the colors.”