How LSD became the drug of summer 2015
Acid use among young people has tripled in two years
Trippy LSD is on the rise as a new summer of love is sweeping the nation.
The hallucinogenic drug has become a new favourite as a wave of young people return to psychedelic substances.
Once the drug of 60s and 80s, young people in bell bottom trousers are dialling back the clock for 12 hour trips at Secret Garden Party, Glastonbury and Shambala.
And new surveys are proving it’s happening more. one stat. Statistics from the Crime Survey of England and Wales show a jump in the use of acid in the past few years. In just two years, the amount of young people taking LSD has tripled, from 0.4 per cent to 1.2.
Bristol graduate Will, 21, first took acid earlier this summer after hearing several mates getting in on the act.
He said: “We ordered it off the dark web as you would. It came as a little Haribo coke bottle, not as a tab. We went to the park, took the bottle and then it all started kicking off.
“There was a rainbow coming out of my mate’s arse and faces and hands merging. It got scarier as it went on, cockroaches on the wall and stuff like that. It went on for about 12 hours, but it really is a journey. It’s Mandy’s difficult second album.
“It definitely is part of this retro throwback going on at the minute. It has a bit of history which people like, it’s cheap and really easy to get hold of.”
But the revival isn’t a carbon copy of the 60s summer of love vibe. Amanda Feilding, head of the pioneering drug research Beckley Foundation, thinks our generation is handling the psychedelic in a more sensible way.
She said: “I think young people are taking them in quite small doses, at festivals and raves. They are far more cautious. There’s quite a big surge in the use of psychedelics, but I think people have learnt from the lessons of the 60s and not using them in uncontrollable doses.
“On the whole people aren’t taking too much. In the 60s, a normal dose would 250 micrograms. Now it’s about 100 and it still works and is much safer. It works at amazingly low doses.”
Will’s dose was just 100 micrograms, but Alex, a 22-year-old computer science finalist at Nottingham, said his usual dose is 140 micrograms. He only pays £2 for a tab.
He said: “I’ve taken it a few times. But your tolerance for it gets really high really quickly. So i just leave it in between times as it’s like you have’t done it again.
“We buy it all through the dark web, no street dealers sell it. It’s a mental five hour trip where you get sick visual effects. Any bit of light is refracted in your eye so everything is like a rainbow.
“It’s always been cheap. I’ll put it down to a mix of culture and people chatting shit honestly.”
Drug officers at Secret Garden Party seized 86 1/2 acid blotters this year, making it almost as popular as cocaine and ketamine at the festival. Nationally, police confiscated 5,000 doses last year, up from 3,000 the year before.
But the reality of acid’s popularity is part of a bigger picture, as a next step for people looking for a new high. The crime stats released last week also reveal a sharp increase in ecstasy, magic mushrooms and hallucinogens as a group.
Ecstasy isn’t being ditched though in favour of acid. E’s use shot up from 3.4 per cent in 2013/14, to 5.4 per cent in 14/15 – meaning one in 20 young adults has taken either pills or MDMA at some point in the last year. Meanwhile magic mushrooms have more than doubled in two years, from 0.6 per cent to 1.5. At the same time hallucinogens have increased from 0.8 per cent to 1.9 per cent.
The surge in acid use is part of a bigger trend where young adults are looking for a more sociable high, according to drug columnist Max Daly. He wrote: “Bleak times call for colourful drugs – substances that can provide more of an escape than mechanical, real-world mixers such as cocaine and alcohol.”
The well-informed drug writers at The Sun blame “hipster grandchildren of Woodstock-era hippies” experimenting with psychedelics as they look to embrace an culture gone by. A criminology expert at Durham said trends in fashion and culture could be part of the cause. Professor Fiona Measham said: “The Seventies are back for women’s fashions. You have these sort of revivals and cycles.”
Police blame the rise on acid being sold on the dark web in online currencies, where they claim costs plummet to as little as 50p a tab if bought in bulk. But beyond the scaremongering of a mind-altering drug, our more cautious approach could be making the hallucinogen far more popular than it previously was.
Beckley’s Amanda Feilding said: “Obviously the harms of taking a powerful substance in an unknown setting is dangerous, but if people are in a protected setting, have friends around them and know not to take too much.
“More and more festivals have places people can go and be looked after if they have a bad turn. To my knowledge people can’t buy them for 50p a dose, but the price they go for is still very affordable.”
And now psychedelic societies are emerging, with festivals hosting dedicated areas celebrating LSD and it’s effects – Secret Garden Party even had a new separate area to embrace the musical forms created from the drug. And Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelica, now in it’s fourth year, transforms a former industrial heartland into “the bleeding edge of today’s psychedelic renaissance”.
As part of an escapist movement, acid has an important part to play and will continue to be imitated and celebrated. In January, a new form called 1P-LSD hit the dark web, dubbed an exciting “new threat”. Feilding said: “I know one or two scientists who have tried it and said it’s rather softer, shorter lasting with a slight touch of MDMA about it. I haven’t heard negative reports about it, but it hasn’t been around long.”
1P-LSD tells us a lot more though, indicating innovation in how we get high and that we never want to push it too far for fear of not enjoying yourself.