The use of LSD among drug users has increased significantly in Australia over the past year, figures show.
Yesterday, police charged a Gold Coast mother after her daughter was taken to hospital on Monday after swallowing an hallucinogenic drug, believed to be LSD.
The girl, 4, was taken from her Coombabah home to the Gold Coast Hospital, and doctors alerted police. The toddler remained in a serious but stable condition yesterday.
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An annual survey of regular ecstasy users, taken earlier this year, found 46 per cent had also taken LSD within the past 12 months.
That number is markedly higher than last year, when the figure was 38 per cent, and has been steadily climbing since the 2003 survey of ecstasy users (28 per cent).
The study, undertaken by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, noted there had been a "significant increase" in recent use of hallucinogens across the Australian population in general.
The number of Australians aged over 14 who have tried hallucinogens such as LSD stands at 8.8 per cent, according to the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, released in July.
And Australians who had recently used hallucinogens increased from 0.6 of the population in 2007 to 1.4 per cent in 2010, according to the survey.
Fairlie McIllwraith, senior research officer with the Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre, said there had been an increase in LSD use lately.
"LSD is reasonably inexpensive for the effect that [users] get from it," she said.
"It has increased in popularity recently. It's not that people are using huge amounts or regularly but more people are using it, it's just an upward trend."
In Australia, illicit drug use has risen from 13.4 per cent prevalence in the population over 14 in 2007 to 14.7 per cent in 2010, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, and ecstasy and cannabis remain the most commonly used illicit drugs.
Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said while general practitioners like himself did not often see patients affected by drugs like LSD, he had seen anecdotal evidence its popularity was increasing.
"There are certainly reports that nearly 10 per cent of people in the US have tried it, and it's now becoming popular in high schools," Dr Hambleton said.
Claire Gardener, of Drug ARM's Queensland centre, said the organisation had not seen any indication of increasing LSD use, however they were not specifically researching it.
"That doesn't mean it's not prevalent in communities," she said.
The price of a tab of LSD ranges from $15-$25 in Australia, according to the Trends in Drug Use and Related Harms in Australia 2001 to 2011 report, published earlier this year.
While the report didn't break down specific statistics on LSD use, it noted the drug was reported by users to be "relatively easy to obtain", and was taken at home.
"LSD was mostly reported to have been obtained from friends and used in private locations such as the participants' own homes or friend's homes," the report said.
LSD - or lysergic acid diethylamide - was synthesised in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofman, who only discovered its psychedelic affects in 1943. It was introduced as a drug in 1947 and used in psychotherapy and recreationally in the 1950s and 1960s, remaining legal in the US until 1968 and in Switzerland until 1993.
November 16, 2011