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ARCHIVE:  March 1, 2001

Lingering LSD & "Flashbacks"

Dear Dr. Shulgin:

I have heard that LSD never leaves your body, and can stay in your brain for many years? Is this true, and is this what causes the so called “flashbacks?”  Thanks! 
  --  B & Rhys

Dear B & Rhys:

The myth of the “lingering molecule” of LSD was given support by the Drug Enforcement Administration at a two day meeting in San Francisco, in late 1991. The DEA invited some 200 participants from law enforcement groups (both domestic and foreign) to share information concerning LSD. The law enforcement agents were told that not only was the storage location known (the frontal lobes of the brain) but also the length of time it stayed there (up to twenty years). 

“The evidence is all about us,” they were told. “The indiscriminate use of LSD in the Summer of Love (in the 1960s) has led directly, through the re-release of these hidden-away molecules and the resulting flashbacks, to the hordes of the homeless, the psychotic, and the disenfranchised here on the streets of San Francisco.”

The flashback phenomenon with LSD is rare but real. An auditory or visual clue can bring back a passing memory of an earlier experience. The residue of any tangible quantity of the chemical itself, in the brain or blood of the user after 24 hours, is, however, total nonsense.

-- Dr. Shulgin

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