What Are Hallucinogens?
For hundreds of years, people have been using Hallucinogens to alter their reality.
There are many different kinds of mind-altering drugs that can be prime targets for abuse across every demographic.
Regardless of the legal status and level of perceived safety of each of these drugs, it is important to remember that any of these substances can be abused.
Abuse Of Hallucinogens
Because nearly all of the aforementioned drugs are illegal, any amount of use can be a cause for concern. Abuse of these drugs can cause serious harm to the user or those around them, and continued abuse can lead to a physical or psychological addiction in some cases.
Hallucinogenic Drug Dependence And Addiction
Although addiction to these types of drugs is less common than with other substances, many people can still develop a dependence on Hallucinogens. A physical addiction is marked by tolerance to the drug, meaning more is needed to achieve the initial high. It is also recognized by the presence of withdrawal symptoms when stopping use.
A psychological dependence can take place when:
- The user feels the need to take the drug more frequently.
- The user goes through extremes to get the drug.
- The user starts avoiding responsibilities or friends and family in favor of using the drug.
- The user continues to take the drug despite recognizing the severe consequences of doing so.
An addiction to a mind-altering substance may be linked to other conditions, including depression.
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Phencyclidine (PCP) is a dissociative anesthetic that was discontinued for human use in 1965. The drug creates an “out-of-body” feeling, and coming down from its numbing effects can cause people to become agitated and irrational.
PCP is used as an additive to many other street drugs (including Marijuana, LSD, and Methamphetamine). This enhances their psychedelic effects. Predominantly distributed as a powder, PCP can be snorted, smoked, injected, or swallowed.
When abused at high doses, PCP can cause hallucinations, seizures, and coma. PCP-induced deaths are most common when the user commits suicide or has an accident due to their altered state of consciousness. PCP is also known as:
- Angel Dust
- Embalming Fluid
- Killer Weed
- Super Grass
- Peace Pills
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Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, also known as Acid or LSD, is a highly potent synthetic Hallucinogen. LSD was originally used in psychiatric therapy and research. Today, it is a Schedule I drug.
LSD affects the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a part in the control of behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory systems. By interfering with these, LSD creates hallucinogenic effects where the user loses touch with reality; seemingly mystical experiences, such as visions or a blending of the senses, may occur.
Magic Mushrooms (also called Psychedelic Mushrooms or Shrooms) are mushrooms that contain the Psychedelic drugs Psilocybin and Psilocin. These Hallucinogenic substances are chemically similar to LSD.
Psilocybin is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the federal government has not recognized a medical use for the substance and has deemed there is high potential for abuse. Psychedelic Mushrooms can cause effects ranging from heightened sensory experiences to impaired judgment and inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. So-called “bad trips” may include:
- Frightening hallucinations
- Panic attacks
Mescaline And Peyote
Mescaline is a naturally occurring Psychedelic substance found in the Peyote cactus. Peyote has been used in Native American traditions and is one of the oldest Psychedelic agents known. Its use was so central to indigenous culture that the Native American Church was founded in 1918 to preserve the right to use the drug.
The perceived emotional and mental effects of Mescaline vary depending on the user’s body type, personality, drug history, and expectations for the experience. Some common effects of Mescaline/Peyote use include:
- Distorted sense of body
- Vivid mental images
- Altered perception of space
- Altered perception of time
- Loss of a sense of reality
Salvia Divinorum is a Psychoactive plant that can induce hallucinations and visions. Sometimes called Sage Of The Seers or the Diviner’s Sage, Salvia Divinorum can produce a sensation of traveling through time and flying or floating above the ground. Other physical effects include dizziness, lack of coordination, chills, and nausea. Salvia Divinorum is federally legal in the United States, though many states have outlawed sale and possession of the drug.
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A concoction of Synthetic stimulants, Bath Salts don’t have a specific chemical makeup. Each batch of Bath Salts may vary slightly, with the primary ingredient often being a man-made form of Cathinone (a substance found in Khat). Adding to the inconsistency, many drug labs will slightly alter the drug’s chemical makeup to bypass federal regulation of the substances. Bath Salts can cause bizarre and disturbing behavior. Many emergency room visits linked to Bath Salts involve the user claiming to have seen demons and monsters.
Gamma-Hydroxybutyric (GHB) Acid is found in human cells and synthesized for its intoxicating and sedating effects. GHB is a central nervous system (CNS) Depressant, and side effects will vary based on the level of dosage and the presence of other drugs in the user’s system. The most commonly reported side effects of GHB use include euphoria, decreased inhibitions, sleepiness, disorientation, loss of coordination, and decreased heart rate.
Get Help For Your Addiction
If you or someone you know is facing an addiction to a Psychedelic or mind-altering substance, don’t go it alone. There are countless treatment centers in the United States that can help. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatment options.
Ashish Bhatt, MD, MRO
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Learn about Dr. Ashish Bhatt
Dr. Bhatt has been Addiction Center's Medical Content Director for more than three years, providing his expertise to ensure quality and accuracy.
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Expert in adult and child psychiatry
Over 20 years of professional experience