Acid Flashbacks Are Real

As many of you know, I am a big advocate of psychedelic use.

A responsible and well thought out tripping experience can have a tremendous impact on your life, the way you perceive the world, and your outlook in general.

In fact, it can be so profound that it makes you wonder how it’s not a rite of passage. I argue that LSD should be required learning.

There are some potential dangers however.

First of all, because psychedelics are illegal we are not able to properly introduce them to many first time users. Instead, black market opportunists seize the day and cash in.

As a result, many people are offered a poor introduction and a sub-par product. This goes for all illegal drugs in general.

Drug policy should be informed by those who have used drugs. Straight edge politicians lack understanding and frame of reference.

It is common knowledge that one can experience a bad trip. This is often the result of poor set and setting, or a depressed or anxious mindset going into the experience. Bad trips can be horrifying, and life changing in a bad way.

But does the brain actually change? Is a new operating system installed?

Under the influence, the brain is clearly introduced to an alternate state of reality.

The experience is ineffable, but it is very real. It’s almost like you can tap into powers that are dormant until triggered. Once activated, this extra sensory input lasts for 12 hours until you finally return.

I wonder, however, whether or not the psychedelic experience is the true reality and if our current operating system is the result of powerful conditioning.


Considering “bad” trips tend to have lasting effects just as a “good” trip, there are no doubt a bunch of acid casualties walking around.

People have reported a phenomenon known as the LSD flashback.

How common are these acid flashbacks? It’s hard to say.

Many famous musicians are said to have been “victimized,” including Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green and Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett.

Beach Boy Brian Wilson also said that “acid shattered [his] brain.”

In fact, while researching many of these stories I found that there is a video series entitled Acid Casualties that highlights various musicians. Going to have to queue that one up for later.

I wonder how many people are currently experiencing some form of HPPD, which can be frightening and anxiety inducing.

It’s likely impossible to say how anyone will react when given the drug, considering the complexity of life experience combined with the set and setting of the trip.

I first took acid in 2010 but didn’t have my first flashback until my fourth trip, which is interesting in itself. That trip was not particularly good.

I foolishly dropped a tab at a Phish concert (my first Phish show, I’m open to anything) while in a somewhat poor state of mind. I had been depressed, tired, and somewhat stressed from life in general.

The show was actually pretty entertaining, but the trip lasted far too long and I was back to “the real world” with hours to go before I came down. This produced a lot of stress.

Also, I smoked a good amount of weed while tripping which can amplify the effects. I had done this before, but this time around it seemed to have pushed it a bit too far beyond my liking.


The First Flashback I Can Remember

I remember walking on the boardwalk with my family a few months after the bad LSD experience I just described.

Suddenly, my entire perception of the world around me changed. It felt like I was on a mild trip. My brain was seemingly “back” to the acid state.

This was not fun. It was not welcome. It was certainly anxiety-inducing.

I did not panic and hoped it would disappear. Took about ten minutes or so for the out-of-nowhere trip to come to an end.

This is when I began to wonder what the hell just happened. I had not smoked any weed or done anything that might have triggered it to my knowledge.

Some have claimed acid remains in your spine for years after you take it. This has largely been debunked.

Read more here.

And here.

I often try to look back on the experience to try and figure out what caused it.

Did my brain simply revert to “acid mode” on its own? Did I somehow trigger it with my own mind?

I argue that it likely cannot be triggered unless it was experienced as a drug-induced trip in the first place.

I could definitely be wrong, and in fact have wondered whether or not “mentally ill” patients are simply in a persistent state that could be classified as an alternate reality.

I wrote previously about Ken Kesey and his fascinating decision to visit mental patients under the influence of psychoactive drugs.

Is it possible that these people are stuck in an alternate reality? Do modern pharmacological drugs truly address the problem? I would argue most certainly not. There’s a ton of money to be made, and keeping people in a drugged state allows big pharma to make a truckload.

Let’s not kid ourselves here.


Marijuana is a Trigger

It is an absolute fact that marijuana should be considered a mild psychedelic.

I rarely smoke anymore due to the fact that weed has been a hair trigger that activates the flashback wheel in my brain. Not so much on a few joint hits, but definitely from a bubbler or bong.

Now that my brain has experienced a full on dissolving of boundaries, it tends to remember this quite easily.

Marijuana seems to slide me straight into a flashback type state, and in rare cases what seems to be a full on trip.

A quick story – about three weeks ago I sustained a full on assault after taking a huge bubbler hit.

As soon as I inhaled I thought to myself…”shit, I’m probably heading into the netherworld.”

I was right.

Just minutes later I was high as fuck and then about twenty minutes later I was full on tripping.

I had attempted to play guitar and this was a fool’s errand. I kept staring at my hands like many people do during a full blown tripping session.

Suddenly I was thrust into a semi-panic mode.

A flashback was in full force.

Even though I was “safe and secure” in my apartment, it induced a small panic. I decided to take a walk around the block to get my mind off of it.

This had little effect, and in fact worsened the situation.

I struggle to describe or define the experience.

It feels like some out-of-body dissociation, like you are looking from the outside in.

Your eyes become a window into a world you thought you knew.

The ape body points the head in a direction and the “guy behind the camera” takes it in.

Why do I define this as a flashback?

Because the only other time this happens is during a “real” trip. That’s it.

Weed dipped me back into the shallow waters of the psychedelic world, albeit with a scuba suit and rope attached to the boat, with a long ladder just feet away.

During a full blown acid trip, you’re at the bottom of the Mariana Trench with flippers and some snorkeling goggles.


Acid Flashbacks Are Real

Based on personal experience, my opinion is that flashbacks are very real.

I would take it a step further and say that it’s possible that acid “casualties” are people that suffer them frequently, or perhaps rarely come out of them. To me this would create a dissociated individual that few people could understand (unless you’re Ken Kesey).

People claim that Syd Barrett became flat out alien. His behavior was simply out of this world.

This makes sense! If he had schizophrenic breaks on a consistent basis, he literally wasn’t in this world for much of his waking life!

Now, imagine if our doctors fully understood this and began researching ways to “bring people back.” They would essentially become shamans, or we would need a shaman-like task force.

According to one study, one in six Americans take psychiatric drugs:

I’m convinced that acid flashbacks are real. Studying them might help us understand why people experience dissociation, mental illness, or other brain related problems.

Check out some more info on psychedelics:

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