When Nick Caves’s son, Arthur, died after taking LSD, statistics showed that the use of LSD has risen 117% in the UK in the past year, and lack of proper education on the effects and dangers of the drug is the likely cause.
The death of Australian rocker Nick Cave’s son, Arthur Cave, has shed light on the fact that LSD use is on the rise among young people in the UK. An inquest into the 15-year-old’s tragic death revealed that he had taken LSD with a friend prior to his fatal fall from a cliff in Brighton.
At the inquest, DC Vicky Loft read Arthur’s friend’s statement and said that both the children had started experiencing the effects of the drug, including paranoia and vivid hallucinations, before they “went their separate ways.” She went on to say that it is clear they could not tell what was real and what was not real. After separating from his friend, Arthur was then seen staggering and zig-zagging along the edge of a cliff before he fell to his death.
The inquest declared Arthur Cave’s death accidental and the coroner accepted that LSD was a contributing factor in his fatal fall. LSD use can impair a person’s perception of depth and time, as well as their ability to see common dangers, which makes people under the influence of this drug especially vulnerable to personal injury and death.
Loft went on to say that the two young friends had researched LSD effects online before taking it, and while they read advice about not taking too much and about how long the effects would last, they did not encounter much information about the potential negative effects.
After the inquest, experts warned of a resurgence in LSD use. The drug was popular in the 1960’s and 70’s, and experts say it is again now more popular than people realise.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a potent and dangerous hallucinogen. It is manufactured in a crystalline form from lysergic acid which is found on the ergot fungus. This crystalline is then diluted as a liquid and produced into many ingestible forms including tablets, sugar cubes, and blotter paper. The drug goes by many street names, but is most commonly called acid. Because the effects can last for up to 12 hours, being under the influence of the drug is called an LSD trip or acid trip.
The effects of LSD are unpredictable, which is what makes the drug so dangerous. Because the drug is manufactured illegally it is difficult to know the potency of each dose. Users may experience extreme changes in mood, visual and auditory hallucinations, and a distorted perception of reality. They may also experience extremely disturbing thoughts or hallucinations, which is referred to as a “bad trip.” These changes in thoughts and perception also put people at high risk for personal injury and death.
Acid use can trigger or aggravate underlying mental health disorders including depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. It can also cause severe and acute bouts of depression, fatigue, and anxiety after the effects have worn off.
Tolerance to LSD develops rapidly which means users will need to take more of the drug to reach the desired effects. Long-term effects of use can include experiencing disturbing flashbacks even weeks or months after use. Psychological dependence can also develop, which inevitably causes problems in all areas of a person’s life.
Why is LSD Use Increasing among Young People?
In the UK, both acid and ecstasy use has increased over the past two years. While there are still far more people trying ecstasy, the use of LSD is up 117% over the last year. It is speculated that the increase in popularity of ecstasy is related to the increased availability of a more pure form of MDMA (ecstasy’s active ingredient), and the resurgence of electronic dance music and rave scenes.
However, the cause for the increase in LSD use is harder to pinpoint. One speculation is that the drug has come back into fashion. But what causes drugs to come in and out of fashion? The main driver is supply and availability. The amount of acid seized by law enforcement in the UK increased from 3000 doses seized in 2012/2013 to 5,000 doses in 2013/2014. It is speculated that after a time of relatively low supply of LSD, it is now making its way back on to the market, thanks in part to the online drug market.
Ambiguity about level of risk could also be a factor contributing to more young people trying the drug. Because LSD use was off the radar for many years, young people may not be fully aware of the negative side effects and dangers the drug poses, and therefore may mistakenly believe it is relatively safe to use. Unfortunately this is not the case, and the death of Arthur Cave is a tragic example of how using this drug can go horribly wrong.
Drug Education Should Begin at Home
Parents are the first line of defence when it comes to preventing drug abuse and helping their children understand the dangers of all drugs. Drug education in schools, and at home, generally focuses on the most common drugs that are used such as marijuana and alcohol. However, parents should be aware that other drugs such as LSD and ecstasy are available to their teens and they may have ill-informed perceptions of these drugs’ dangers.
Drug education includes giving the facts about the dangers and effects of all drugs. This conversation can begin by asking your children what they know about certain drugs, and then helping them understand the facts compared to their perceptions. While it can be uncomfortable to talk about drug use with your children, parents should not rely on schools and the internet to provide comprehensive drug education.
There is help available for you to start the conversation about drug and alcohol use with your children and teens. Drugs Over Dinner is a non-profit website that will help you plan and execute a compassionate and factual conversation about drugs and drug addiction with your family. Remember that prevention starts at home and includes not only communication, but also good role modelling and setting clear expectations about drug use.