Flashback to How I Changed My Mind: A First-Time LSD Story

The High Times book, "Psychedelic Trips for the Mind" (2001), and an illustrated rendition of Albert Hofmann’s LSD trip while riding a bicycle in 1943 in "How to Change Your Mind" on Netflix.

The first episode of Netflx's four-part psychedelics series How to Change Your Mind, based on Michael Pollan's book, is about LSD. It's the first psychedelic drug I ever took.

Pollan's story is quite different. As he acknowledges in the book, Pollan came to psychedelics late. In fact, he tries acid for the first time ever near the end of the episode.

It's an illuminating start. The other episodes focus on psilocybin (mushrooms), MDMA (Ecstasy, molly) and mescaline (cactus). Narrator Pollan traces LSD's history from its creation by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938 and his first trip in 1943 to Humphry Osmond's groundbreaking research in Canada (he coined the term "psychedelic") to Timothy Leary and Ram Dass' experiments at Harvard to the CIA program that turned Ken Kesey on at Stanford and opened the door to the Acid Tests to its prohibition by the U.S. in 1965 to 30 years of inactiion to the new wave of therapeutiuc use and microdosing. 

I wrote about my maiden voyage on acid in Psychedelic Trips for the MInd, a book published by High Times in 2001 and edited by Paul Krassner. The story is reproduced below.


By Steve Bloom

I was 16, never did anything worse than smoke a joint. I was a senior in high school, 1971, DeWitt Clinton, Bronx, NY. We had a day off, or half-day. The New Riders of the Purple Sage were playing a free show in Central Park at the Bandshell. I took the subway downtown with ny older brother Barry and my friend Matt. Matt had his arm in a sling; he'd cut his hand in a lawn-mower accident a week or so before.

We settled on the grass, smoked a few joints and waited for the New Riders. Then a clear glass jug containing an orange-looking drink was passed to me and Matt. We looked at each other like, "You know what this is?" - and then proceeded to take several gulps each. A half-hour later we were full-blown tripping. I don't remember leaving our little patch of grass.

The New Riders played as the clouds zoomed at super speed across the sky. My brother came by and asked how we were doing. We looked a little spaced. I told him we drank something. Unworried, he split again. When the show was over we all left the park and took the train back uptown, home.

Matt seemed disoriented. He didn't know where we were, what day or what time it was. He was suddenly "out of it." He kept "flashing back" to his recent hospital stay and perhaps the morphine they gave him. We had to keep telling Matt what day it was, where he was and so on.

As Mom's hair turned into a beehive, Dad's head sported Viking horns and I barely touched my dinner, Barry revealed I'd accidentally taken LSD. That sent off shock waves.

For some strange reason, we went straight home. It was about 6 pm. We lived on the first floor of an apartment building. Matt lived on the sixth floor. My parents were home from their respective jobs. They didn't notice anything "wrong" with me at first. Then Matt's mother called asking what was "wrong" with him.

I took the elevator upstairs and entered Matt's room to find him sweating under the glare of a hot desk lamp. Matt's mom was hysterical. "What did you do to him?" she shrieked. I hung out with Matt for a while, then headed back downstairs. That five flights was one of the strangest trips down the stairwell I'd ever taken.

It was dinnertime at the Blooms. We took our usual seats, me across from my brother, my parents across from each other. With my eyes bugging out, hallucinating on the wallpaper, they both asked what was "wrong" with Steven. Barry said I took something at the concert. What? "Something," he dodged.

But as mom's hair turned into a beehive and Dad's head sported Viking horns and I barely touched my dinner, Barry revealed I'd accidentally taken LSD. That sent off shock waves, which included the comment from my mother, "What's next, heroin?" After some moralizing, my dad decided to just shrug the whole thing off and started laughing at my obvioulsy fucked-up but peaceful condition. They excused me to the room Barry and I shared.

I turned on the Mets game and enjoyed the trails of basebals flying all over the field. Baseball on acid, what a concept! Perioidically I walked into the dining room and stared at the wallpaper. The pattern was still moving psychedelically. Finally, by midnight the walls stopped moving. My first acid trip had come to an end.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.