Two Washington County teenagers who traded a video gaming console for six “hits” of LSD on Wednesday required treatment in local hospitals after taking the drugs.
State police at Washington released few details about the 14-year-old Fallowfield boys in an incident report that said the pair originally were treated in Mon Valley Hospital in Carroll, and one had to be transferred to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for further treatment and observation.
Trooper David Hamer said the teenagers traded a PlayStation gaming system for the LSD, which they consumed later in the day. A hit of the drug usually sells for $5 to $15 on the street.
The teenagers’ identities were not released.
Police said the incident, which they labeled “corruption of minors,” is under investigation. No arrests have been made.
Attempts to contact Hamer and other troopers for more information on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Dr. Michael Lynch, medical director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center, said ingestion of LSD, a hallucinogen commonly called “acid,” is normally not as dangerous as heroin or prescription pain medications such as Oxycontin. He noted that LSD is not poisonous.
“The medical danger is limited from a toxicity standpoint, but the danger is more what someone may do to themselves. A person could run into traffic, jump out a window or otherwise injure themselves,” Lynch said.
Unlike heroin and other opiates and pain medications, there is no effect on the lungs or heart. Deaths occur with heroin and Oxycontin when a user “physically stops breathing,” he said.
“There is a possibility of vomit possibly entering the lungs, but normally we don’t see a lot of adolescents in the emergency department (from LSD),” he said.
That doesn’t mean it’s not being used, he added.
“All of this year at Children’s (Hospital) we’ve had a total of four cases, including these two from (Wednesday),” he said.
LSD users feel an immense sense of euphoria or schizophrenia, according to Lynch and Westmoreland County veteran Detective Tony Marcocci.
Small pieces of absorbent paper are placed in the mouth, under the tongue or against a cheek, and the LSD is absorbed through the skin.
A high usually lasts four to eight hours, Lynch said.
A person using LSD could experience an “outside body experience,” alteration of their senses and how they perceive the world around them, Lynch and Marcocci said.
“It’s both visual and more sensitive to the touch. People touch a lot of things … furry types of things, and everything supposedly feels interesting,” Lynch said.
“They also describe a sort of reversal of senses where they’re seeing music or hearing colors. But again, different people describe the high differently,” he added.
Some people using the same drug experience a “dysphoria” rather than euphoria, according to Lynch and Marcocci.
“Users often get a feeling of uneasiness, nervous or scared in the signals the body sends to the brain. This is a bad trip or freakout, for lack of a better word,” Lynch said.
Marcocci said that with higher doses everything around the user could appear to melt, move or change.
“Your thoughts become bizarre and often confused. Most of our young users who seek treatment often end up in the psych ward for being schizo,” he said.
While the drug is not the most popular, Marcocci said LSD is still on the market.
“Oh, it’s still out there for certain. But like heroin, there is no quality control on it at all. … So the user has no idea what they’re getting,” he said.
“It’s always out there,” Lynch said. “It comes in blips, like what we’ve seen. It’s not uncommon per se, but (users) usually don’t make it to the emergency room, because by the time they get there, they are usually already coming down.”
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or [email protected].