What are Hallucinogens? LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, PCP, & More

Hallucinogens like LSD and psilocybin aren’t as addictive as alcohol or opioids, but they’re not free from it. Some users might get hooked on the mind-bending trips, making it a habit. Still, the chance of substance use disorder with psychedelics or hallucinogens is way lower compared to other types of drugs. Continue reading to learn more about hallucinogens effects, dangers, and treatment.

What are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens, also known as psychedelic drugs, significantly affect how people sense things and feel emotionally. These substances, which come in various forms, change how individuals see, hear, taste, smell, and feel, impacting their moods and thoughts.

When taken in higher amounts, hallucinogens can cause hallucinations, where individuals experience intense images, sounds, or sensations that aren’t real in their current environment. This distinctive aspect sets hallucinogens apart and highlights the importance of understanding their effects on human consciousness and perception as mind-altering substances.

The impact of various psychedelics may differ, but they all influence your senses, thoughts, and mood. When someone is on a hallucinogen, it’s often described as “tripping.” This experience can be either positive, known as a “good trip,” or harmful, termed a “bad trip.”

Hallucinogens have been used in religious and healing ceremonies for centuries and, more recently, for recreational purposes. Despite this, healthcare providers consider any use of psychedelic drugs unsafe. Still, scientists are exploring the potential of using specific hallucinogens under professional supervision as treatments for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

How Do Hallucinogens Work?

Hallucinogens, such as LSD or psilocybin, impact the brain’s neurotransmitter systems, particularly serotonin and glutamate. Serotonin is crucial in regulating mood, sensory perception, and other functions. When hallucinogens disrupt serotonin, it can lead to altered mood and perception.

On the other hand, hallucinogens also influence glutamate, which is involved in emotional regulation, pain perception, and learning. The disruptions caused by hallucinogens in these neurotransmitter systems can result in hallucinations, changes in thought patterns, and shifts in mood.

There are still concerns about the safety of hallucinogens, especially outside controlled settings. More research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of using psychedelics for mental health. Some studies on substances like psilocybin and LSD in controlled environments show promising results for conditions like depression and anxiety. However, the research has limitations, like small study sizes and the need for more careful trials, making it essential to interpret the findings cautiously.

Types of Psychedelics and Hallucinogenic Drugs

Some psychedelics, like psilocybin from mushrooms and mescaline from cacti, come from nature. Cannabis and psilocybin are typically used as they are, straight from the plants. LSD, while synthetic, has a natural counterpart called LSA. On the other hand, hallucinogens like MDMA and ketamine are made in labs. Nevertheless, both these natural and synthetic psychedelics are prohibited in some places, and using them is not considered safe by researchers.

What is Psilocybin?

Psilocybin comes from certain mushrooms found in the U.S., Mexico, and South America, also known as magic mushrooms or ‘shrooms. People consume them by cooking, boiling them into a drink, or eating raw, and psilocybin chocolate is a popular way to mask the bitter taste. Effects can range from heightened senses to impaired judgment, but “bad trips” may lead to frightening hallucinations, panic attacks, or other negative experiences.

What is LSD?

LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide, a potent mind-altering chemical derived from a fungus that grows on grains like rye. It typically comes as clear or white material, often soaked onto small squares of blotting paper called acid tabs, which people swallow. The effects of LSD, or acid, include the following:

  • Losing touch with reality.
  • Experiencing mystical sensations.
  • Merging of senses like smelling sounds or hearing colors.

While it’s not considered addictive, repeated use can lead to tolerance, requiring higher doses for the same effects.

What is Peyote?

Peyote is a small, spineless cactus containing mescaline, a natural substance. People cut and dry the disk-shaped buttons from the top, known as the crown, and chew them or soak them in water to make a potent liquid. The hallucinogenic dose is around 0.3 to 0.5 grams, with effects lasting about 12 hours.

Some prefer making tea due to the bitter taste. Peyote, used by Native Americans, can also be synthetic. It produces various emotional and mental effects, like vivid mental images, altered perception of time and space, distorted sense of body, and loss of reality.

Hallucinogen users often create peyote powder by grinding the dried buttons of the peyote cactus into a delicate substance. This powdered form is commonly used in various consumption methods, such as being mixed into liquids or incorporated into capsules, providing an alternative to traditional chewing or soaking methods.
Hallucinogen users often create peyote powder by grinding the dried buttons of the peyote cactus into a delicate substance. This powdered form is commonly used in various consumption methods, such as being mixed into liquids or incorporated into capsules, providing an alternative to traditional chewing or soaking methods.
Many hallucinogens are classified as Schedule I substances, which means they are considered to have a high potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use. This categorization imposes strict legal controls and significantly restricts production, distribution, and use.
Many hallucinogens are classified as Schedule I substances, which means they are considered to have a high potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use. This categorization imposes strict legal controls and significantly restricts production, distribution, and use.

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What is PCP?

PCP, short for phenyl cyclohexyl piperidine or phencyclidine, is also known as angel dust or killer weed. It comes in various forms like liquids, powders, tablets, and capsules, and people typically swallow, sniff, inject, or smoke it.

Initially developed in the 1950s as a general anesthetic, its use was stopped in 1965 due to severe side effects. PCP induces an out-of-body feeling, and the come-down can lead to numbing impacts, causing agitation and irrational behavior. At high doses, it can result in seizures, coma, and even death, often associated with suicide or fatal accidents due to altered states.

What is DMT?

DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, is a naturally occurring chemical found in certain plants in the Amazon. One traditional preparation of DMT is in the form of Ayahuasca, a tea made from these plants and known by various names like hoasca, aya, or yagé.

Beyond its natural sources, DMT can also be synthesized in a laboratory, typically resulting in a smoked white powder. This synthetic form has gained popularity for its potent psychedelic effects, leading to altered perceptions and intense visual experiences.

Whether derived from plants or created synthetically, DMT is recognized for its profound impact on consciousness. It has been used in various cultural and spiritual practices for its mind-altering properties.

What is Salvia?

Salvia, also known as the sage of the seers or diviner’s sage, is a plant found in southern Mexico and Central and South America. People consume it by chewing the leaves, drinking extracted juices, or smoking/vaporizing the dried leaves. The effects of salvia include visions and hallucinations, like senses blending, and it can make individuals feel like they’re floating or traveling through time.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is an anesthetic used in surgeries for both humans and animals. Some individuals use stolen ketamine from veterinary offices. People typically snort it as a powder, swallow it as a pill, or inject it as a liquid.

The effects of ketamine include an out-of-body feeling, which can be either pleasant or terrifying for different people.

Other Common Hallucinogenic Drugs

  • MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly): A synthetic drug known for its stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, often used recreationally for its euphoric effects. It can enhance sensory perceptions and feelings of connection.
  • Ibogaine: Derived from the iboga plant, it is used in traditional rituals and is being researched for its potential in treating addiction due to its hallucinogenic and dreamy effects.
  • 2C-B: A synthetic hallucinogen that alters sensory perceptions and mood. It’s often taken as a pill or powder and can induce visual and auditory hallucinations.
  • N-Bomb (25I-NBOMe): A synthetic hallucinogen that mimics the effects of LSD but can be more potent. It’s usually sold as a blotter paper and can lead to intense hallucinations.
  • PCP Analogs (e.g., 3-MeO-PCP): Variants of PCP that have similar effects, including dissociation from reality and altered perceptions, but with varying degrees of potency and duration.
  • Morning Glory Seeds (Containing LSA): Seeds from certain plants, like the Morning Glory, can induce hallucinogenic effects due to the presence of lysergic acid amide (LSA), a compound similar to LSD.
  • DXM (Dextromethorphan): Found in some cough medicines, DXM is a dissociative drug that can produce hallucinogenic effects when taken in large doses.
  • Ayahuasca: A traditional Amazonian brew containing the hallucinogenic compound DMT, often used in spiritual and shamanic practices.
  • Fly Agaric Mushrooms (Amanita muscaria): These mushrooms contain hallucinogenic compounds and have been used in various cultural and religious practices.
  • Mescaline-containing Cacti (e.g., San Pedro Cactus): Like peyote, these cacti contain mescaline and are used for their hallucinogenic properties in traditional rituals.

Hallucinogens are risky because they can cause unpredictable changes in how you see, feel, and think. Using them can lead to problems like anxiety, paranoia, and unsafe behaviors, so it’s crucial to be careful and make informed choices. Get substance abuse counseling that works. Discover professional help from We Level Up NJ addiction therapists. Start getting support with a free call to our hotline 24/7.

We Level Up NJ Addiction Rehab Center Tips to Cope with Dangerous Hallucinogens Effects

✅ If someone experiences dangerous effects from hallucinogens, it’s crucial to seek help immediately by calling emergency services.

✅ Stay with the person and keep them calm in a safe environment.

✅ Avoid any confrontations and provide reassurance until professional help arrives.

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Most Common Side Effects of Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens can have a range of effects on the body and brain. Remember that individual responses can vary, and not everyone will experience the same effects. Here are the common adverse effects of psychedelics on the brain and the body of the user:

Hallucinogens Effects On the Body:

  • Increased Heart Rate: Many hallucinogens can lead to an elevated heart rate.
  • Dilated Pupils: Hallucinogens often cause pupils to dilate.
  • Increased Body Temperature: Some psychedelics can cause a rise in body temperature.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: This is common, especially during the trip’s onset.
  • Sweating: Hallucinogens may lead to increased perspiration.
  • Muscle Weakness or Tremors: In some cases, users may experience muscle weakness or trembling.
  • Loss of Appetite: Many psychedelics can suppress the appetite.

Effects of Hallucinogens On the Brain:

  • Altered Perception: Hallucinogens can profoundly change the way you perceive reality, leading to hallucinations and distortions.
  • Intense Emotions: Users may experience heightened emotions, both positive and negative.
  • Ego Dissolution: Some psychedelics can induce a sense of ego dissolution, where the boundaries between the self and the external world blur.
  • Time Distortion: The perception of time may be altered, with minutes feeling like hours or vice versa.
  • Enhanced Creativity: Some users report increased creativity and novel thought patterns.
  • Synesthesia: Hallucinogens may lead to a blending of the senses, where one may “see” sounds or “hear” colors.
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD): In some cases, individuals may experience flashbacks or visual disturbances even after the drug has worn off.
  • Psychological Effects: Psychedelics can have profound effects on mood and cognition, ranging from euphoria to anxiety.

Psychedelics can have different effects based on the specific substance, dosage, and individual factors. Also, there are potential risks associated with hallucinogen use, including the risk of a “bad trip” and the potential for long-term psychological effects. If you have concerns or are considering using hallucinogens, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.

Are Hallucinogens Addictive?

Most people who try hallucinogens don’t do it all the time. If someone keeps using drugs like LSD or ecstasy, their body might get used to it, and the drugs won’t work as well. But the effects can return if they take a break and start again. Quitting hallucinogens usually doesn’t lead to withdrawal symptoms, but some people might feel like they really want the drug and rely on it emotionally and mentally.

Most of these drugs are illegal and unregulated, and they can be risky. For instance, what’s sold as ecstasy might not be pure MDMA—it could contain harmful substances like methamphetamine. The same goes for drugs sold as mescaline; they’re often something else. Hallucinogens mess with how you see and act. Using them can make you confused, impair your judgment, and lead you to take dangerous risks.

Some hallucinogens can be really unpleasant or even toxic, like jimsonweed or deadly nightshade. And be careful with hallucinogenic plants—they might be mistaken for other plants that are poisonous, like mushrooms.

While there isn’t a lot of research, taking hallucinogens during pregnancy might affect the baby’s development and increase the risk of miscarriage.

Using hallucinogens might, in rare cases, lead to “flashbacks”—replaying the drug experience days, weeks, or even years later. Some people feel down or anxious for a long time after taking hallucinogens.

While not characterized as withdrawal symptoms in the traditional sense, some people report psychological effects after using hallucinogens. These can include feelings of anxiety, depression, or general unease.
While not characterized as withdrawal symptoms in the traditional sense, some people report psychological effects after using hallucinogens. These can include feelings of anxiety, depression, or general unease.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Using Hallucinogens?

Long-term use of psychedelics can have various effects on both mental and physical health. One potential concern is the development of hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), where individuals may experience recurring visual disturbances reminiscent of their drug experiences, even when not under the influence. These flashbacks can persist for an extended period, impacting daily life and functioning.

Moreover, extended use of hallucinogens may contribute to persistent psychological issues. Some individuals report ongoing anxiety, depression, or other mood disturbances long after the drug has left their system. While the causal relationship is not always clear, these lingering mental health effects emphasize the importance of considering the potential long-term impact of hallucinogen use.

Physiologically, the impact of long-term hallucinogen use is not fully understood. However, certain substances may adversely affect the brain and other organs over time. Given the variability in individual responses and the wide range of hallucinogenic substances, comprehensive research is essential to grasp the potential long-term consequences of their use fully.

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Who Uses Hallucinogens?

People from all walks of life use hallucinogens. Initially linked to counterculture movements in the 1960s, their use has expanded. Different ages, backgrounds, and cultures have explored these substances for personal insights or curiosity. While some are drawn to the potential for deep insights, others are interested in the recreational side of hallucinogens.

Specific communities, like those at festivals or alternative spirituality, may have more users. The growing interest in using psychedelics for mental health has made hallucinogens more mainstream. People seeking therapeutic benefits are now part of the conversation. Still, it’s crucial to be cautious with psychedelics because their effects vary, and risks exist for users regardless of their background.

Hallucinogens Withdrawal Symptoms

Unlike some substances, psychedelics like LSD and hallucinogenic mushrooms don’t typically lead to physical dependence, and there’s no evidence to suggest a classic withdrawal syndrome. However, some individuals may experience what is often referred to as a “comedown” or “afterglow” period after the effects wear off. During this time, they might feel fatigued, emotionally drained, or experience mood swings.

While not characterized as withdrawal symptoms in the traditional sense, some people report psychological effects after using hallucinogens. These can include feelings of anxiety, depression, or general unease. These experiences are subjective and can vary widely among individuals. Also, the lack of an apparent withdrawal syndrome does not diminish the potential psychological impact of hallucinogen use, especially in cases of challenging or “bad trips.”

It’s crucial to approach hallucinogens with caution, as the effects and experiences can be unpredictable. If someone is struggling with psychological symptoms after using hallucinogens, seeking support from a mental health professional is advisable.

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Treatment for Addiction to Hallucinogens

The first step in treating hallucinogen withdrawal is to undergo detoxification from the substance. During detox, individuals slowly taper off their dose over time until they are no longer dependent on the substance. Some withdrawal treatment programs may also provide less powerful and longer-acting medications for individuals with severe hallucinogen drug addiction. It can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and make the detox process more comfortable. It is also safer to detox within a medically assisted facility with a clinician. Doctors can monitor the client during detox and intervene if any of the withdrawal symptoms become life-threatening.

Treating psychedelic abuse involves looking at both the mental and behavioral aspects. Since hallucinogens like LSD aren’t usually linked to physical dependence, the focus is on the person’s mental and emotional well-being. Treatment often starts with checking how the person uses substances, their mental health, and overall well-being. After this, the best plan—like counseling, inpatient treatment, or a mix of therapies—is decided. Commonly used methods include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling to understand the reasons behind psychedelic abuse and develop coping strategies.

Being part of support groups is also essential. Connecting with people who’ve faced similar challenges gives a sense of community and understanding. Using mindfulness and holistic approaches can help create a more balanced and mindful connection with experiences, lowering the chances of problematic psychedelic use in the future. The key to successful treatment is a personalized and holistic approach that meets the individual’s unique needs.

If you or someone you know is struggling with hallucinogen addiction, consider We Level Up NJ detox treatment for tailored support from a team of substance abuse treatment professionals. Initiate your path toward improved health by taking that crucial first step toward healing. Reach out for help—call We Level Up NJ now. Every call is both free and kept confidential.

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