This Is Why You Can't Escape An Hours-Long Acid Trip
A new study reveals why you can't simply shake yourself out of an LSD trip.This article originally appeared on Inverse
If you decide to drop acid, you’ll want to clear your schedule: A trip on lysergic acid diethylamide can last anywhere between six and 20 hours. Why acid trips last so long has been a mystery — until now. New research published Thursday in Cell explains that it all comes down to how LSD attaches itself to the brain cell’s serotonin receptors.
In a breakthrough experiment, scientists from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine successfully bound LSD to a human serotonin receptor and managed to crystallize them together through protein crystallography. This allowed them to observe what actually happens when the drug is actively exerting its psychedelia-inducing effects on a brain cell.
Here’s what they saw: When a LSD molecule encounters the receptor, part of the receptor folds over the molecule. The researchers compare this to the way a lid on a trash bin works — the presence of LSD triggers the receptor to close in and trap the molecule. An acid trip ends as the LSD molecules “pop off” these receptors, are sucked into the cell, and eventually are disassembled. This experiment also disproves the previous belief that LSD “washes” out of the fluid of the brain within four hours.
“We think this lid is likely why the effects of LSD can last so long,” lead author Bryan Roth, Ph.D., said in a statement. “LSD takes a long time to get onto the receptor, and then once it’s on, it doesn’t come off. And the reason is this lid.”