College Drugs in The mid 80s

Publication Year: 
1985

Image retrieved from www.collegebound.net on March 30th, 2014.

Many turned-on youth continue to view LSD as a sacrament and approach the drug experience with due respect and caution. But for others, acid is primarily a recreational buzz. Psychedelics are used by more people than ever before, appealing to a larger cross-section of American society—from young débutantes tripping at the disco to high school joyriders downing acid with their six-packs. LSD has made inroads among blacks, Latins, and gays in addition to middle class whites. The drug is prevalent on the club scene in big cities, as well as on the college campus. Today's students, whether buttoned-down or punked-out, seek a strong dose of intense fun, and that's what acid gives them. LSD parties are common on weekends with psychedelic clans hitting the drugs as heavily as they hit the books. It's for getting guiltelessly—if not righteously—high. LSD is one among many popular drugs on the campus scene: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, nitrous oxide, Quaaludes, and new compounds such as “ecstasy” (an MDA-related substance) and ketamine (a “psychedelic anesthetic”).
While more people are using psychedelics than ever before, bad rips are much less frequent, largely because the psychosocial matrix surrounding LSD has evolved. When the social and political movements symbolically entangled with LSD collapsed in the early 1970s, the climate informing expectations about the drug lost much of its emotional charge. The new generation of acid trippers has not been weaned on the psychedelic controversies of yesteryear, when taking LSD was tantamount to an act of social defiance. Without the shrill warnings about psychossis or chromosome damage, or all the hubbub about the glories of expanded consciousness, there are fewer freakouts and untoward incidents.
The recreational use of LSD as a “technology of the self” has its corollaries in the proliferating hi-tech leisure industry that includes computer video games, cable television, home video, and films whose multimillion-dollar special effects threaten to outstrip the theatre of the mind. Ways of playing with reality are big business indeed. Many of today's TV commercials are more “psychedelic” than the most far-out acid poster of the 1960s. (Psychedelic poster art was recently shown in a special exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.) The corporate cooperation of psychedelia is evident in the army's television ads, which feature flashing images, strobe effects, hard rock, and the slogan “Be all that you can be...you can do it in the army.”
The resurgence of LSD in the 1980s is part of a boom in recreational drug usage throughout the US and Western Europe (where a highly politicized counterculture continues to thrive in various cities, most notably Amsterdam and West Berlin). Marijuana is now a $15-$20-billion-a-year industry (making it the third-largest American business, behind Exxon and GM), even though federal allocations for drug law enforcement have grown more than 75%, to $1.2 billion, during the last five years. Although marijuana possession is currently a parking ticket fine in some places, the laws governing LSD are as stringent as ever. LSD remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug, a category reserved for substances deemed to have no medical value whatsoever. Scientific investigations into LSD are at a complete standstill, and psychiatrists who once used the drug for therapeutic purposes are pessimistic about future prospects. Despite—or perhaps because of—these restrictions, an underground network of LSD therapists quietly persists in the United States.

pp. 290-292 The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond by Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain (1985)

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