Hallucinogens: what are the effects?

Hallucinogens: what are the effects?

Hallucinogens: what are the effects?

The effects of any drug (including hallucinogens) vary from person to person. How hallucinogens affect a person depends on many things, including their size, weight and health, also whether the person is used to taking it and whether other drugs are taken around the same time.

The effects of any drug also depend on the amount taken. This can be very hard to judge as the quality and strength of illicit drugs can vary greatly from one batch to another.

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk – even medications can produce unwanted side effects. It is important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Immediate effects

The effects of hallucinogens can last several hours and vary considerably, depending on the specific type of hallucinogen. Some of the typical effects of hallucinogens are:

  • feelings of euphoria;
  • blurred vision;
  • sense of relaxation and well-being;
  • hallucinations and distorted perception, including visual, auditory, body, time and space;
  • disorganised thoughts, confusion and difficulty concentrating, thinking or maintaining attention;
  • anxiety, agitation, paranoia and feelings of panic;
  • dizziness;
  • blurred vision;
  • loss of coordination;
  • increased breathing rate;
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure;
  • irregular heartbeat, palpitations;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • increased body temperature and sweating, may alternate with chills and shivering;
  • numbness.

‘Bad trips’

Sometimes a person may experience the negative effects of hallucinogens and have what is called a bad trip. They may experience some of the following:

  • unpleasant and/or intense hallucinations
  • paranoia
  • anxiety
  • panic or fear.

Feelings of panic, paranoia and fear can lead to risky behaviour that can cause injury, such as running across a busy street.

Some people may experience a drug induced psychosis after using hallucinogens. This can occur after a single dose or long-term use. The psychosis is usually characterised by hallucinations, delusions and bizarre behaviour and can last for several hours or longer for some people.

Higher doses

High doses of hallucinogens can increase the negative immediate effects.

Death from an overdose of LSD, magic mushrooms and mescaline are extremely rare. A high dose of hallucinogen can cause a person to overdose. This means that a person has taken more hallucinogen than their body can cope with. Not knowing the strength or purity of the hallucinogen increases the risk of overdose.

Deaths generally occur due to suicide, accidents and dangerous behaviour, or due to the person inadvertently eating poisonous plant material. An overdose of PCP or ketamine can result in depressed breathing, coma, convulsions, seizures and death.

Coming down

As the effects of the hallucinogen begin to wear off a person may experience a range of effects. These effects can last for a number of days after use and may include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • psychosis

Long-term effects

The most common long-term effect of hallucinogen is the ‘flashback’. Flashbacks are a re-experience of the drug and can occur days, weeks, months and even years later.

Flashbacks can be triggered by the use of other drugs, or by stress, fatigue or physical exercise. The flashback experience can range from being pleasant to causing severe feelings of anxiety. They are usually visual and last for a minute or two.

Social problems

All areas of a person’s life can be affected by drug use.

  • Disagreements and frustration over drug use can cause family arguments and affect personal relationships.
  • Legal and health problems can also add to the strain on personal, financial and work relationships.

Taking hallucinogens with other drugs

The effects of mixing hallucinogens with other drugs, including alcohol, prescription medicines and over the counter medicines, are often unpredictable.

Mixing hallucinogens with stimulant drugs (such as cocaine or amphetamines) increases the stimulant effects and can further increase the heart rate and place the body under extreme stress.

Combining hallucinogens with depressant drugs such as alcohol may further reduce coordination and increases the chances of vomiting.

Last Reviewed: 30/01/2013

Reproduced with kind permission from the Australian Drug Foundation.


Australian Drug Foundation. Hallucinogens facts. Drug Info. Last updated 30 Jan 2013. http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/hallucinogens (accessed May 2013).

Source: https://www.mydr.com.au/addictions/hallucinogens-what-are-the-effects

Hallucinogens: What Are They and What Are Their Effects?

Hallucinogens: what are the effects?

Hallucinogens are drugs that affect several areas of the brain, producing visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations. Sometimes, hallucinations may include smells or tastes, but reports of these are rarer.

Essentially, hallucinogens alter perception of one’s surroundings, objects, the passage of time, or other conditions. Along with these changes come changes in thoughts and feelings, which may lead to spiritual or religious experiences.

In some instances, these changes could have a negative impact on the person.

What Are Hallucinogens?

Drugs with hallucinogenic properties can be natural or artificial; they can be produced by a plant, or they may be manufactured in a laboratory.

Most hallucinogenic drugs are not considered addictive, but some drugs that cause hallucinations along with other effects, euphoria, may become addictive.

Older hallucinogens are not linked to overdoses, although they may be linked to hospitalization due to psychotic symptoms; new hallucinogens, often manufactured in clandestine drug labs, put the user at a higher risk of overdose.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for 2014 found that first-time use of hallucinogens has remained steady since about 2002, with few people abusing these drugs regularly or in compulsive patterns suggesting addiction. About 1.2 million people, which is about 0.4 percent of the US population ages 12 and older, reported abusing hallucinogens in the past month. More men than women tend to abuse hallucinogenic drugs.

While these numbers are low compared to other substances of abuse, opioids, alcohol, and marijuana, hallucinogens put a person at risk of acute and chronic health problems. Many people who abuse hallucinogens also abuse other intoxicants in a dangerous pattern of polydrug abuse.

Types of Hallucinogens

There are a few classes of hallucinogens.

  • PsychedelicsAlso called classical hallucinogens, most psychedelics are naturally occurring, psilocybin; however, LSD is the standard in this group, which is manufactured in a handful of clandestine drug labs in the US. Currently, most researchers believe that psychedelics attach to several receptors in the brain, causing the release of a large amount of dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters, prompting several areas of the brain to become active at once.
  • Dissociative drugsThe main effect of dissociative drugs involves dissociating from reality, leading to the experience that the world around a person is not real, or that they are in a dream- state. Many of the drugs in this class, such as ketamine, also produce amnesia and pain relief, and they may become addictive.
  • DeliriantsThese drugs cause intense confusion and difficulty controlling one’s actions. Datura is the drug most often associated with this group, causing symptoms similar to a fever-induced delirium.
  • Research chemicals and designer drugsDesigned in laboratory settings, many research chemicals began as synthetic analogs of natural substances, allowing scientists and medical researchers to study the effects of these substances on specific parts of the brain. Unfortunately, clandestine labs are now reproducing publicly available research chemicals and selling them, untested, without understanding the dangerous effects associated with them. The most famous among these drugs are the NBOMe substances.

Most Commonly Abused Hallucinogens

There are several varieties of hallucinogens that are abused. Some of the most famous are outlined below.

  • AyahuascaTypically consumed as a tea, this plant is cultivated in the Amazonian rainforest. Tribes native to the region have used this substance for religious rituals for thousands of years, but now ayahuasca use is focused on tourism from around the world. US residents cannot legally bring the drug into the country, but many people go on vacations specifically to take this drug. This is the most infamous of several kinds of plants that contain the mind-altering chemical dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
  • Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): This chemical is also extracted in clandestine laboratories and sold by itself. It can be found as a whitish crystalline powder. DMT is famous for short-lived hallucinations involving geometric shapes, which are very similar for everyone who consumes it. This effect is rare, as other hallucinogens cause a variety of mental, emotional, and physical experiences.
  • D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)One of the most famous of the mind-altering psychedelic chemicals, this drug was originally legal in the United States and often given to psychology students so they could understand the mental state of those with schizophrenia. Students in the 1950s and 1960s began to divert LSD to abuse for recreational purposes, which became so culturally problematic that LSD was one of the first drugs to be placed in Schedule I – with no medical purpose – according to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). LSD is derived from ergot, a grain fungus.
  • Peyote or mescalineA small cactus that naturally produces the chemical mescaline, peyote has been used in religious rituals in Central and South America for millennia, and it is one of the oldest known hallucinogenic drugs. Because of its popularity, mescaline is sometimes processed peyote and sold as a white powder or tablet. The intense hallucinations associated with peyote or mescaline may trigger mental illness in those predisposed to this condition.
  • Psilocybin, psilocyn, or shroomsThe closely related chemicals psilocybin and psilocyn can be found in at least 75 known species of mushrooms that are native to many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. Dried and either eaten or brewed into tea, magic mushrooms or shrooms contain natural amounts of either or both of these chemicals, which can be difficult to measure. The mushrooms themselves are not regulated by the CSA, but the chemicals they contain are. Shrooms typically produce body highs, auditory hallucinations, and changes to the perception of time, but they can produce visual hallucinations, too.
  • Salvia divinorumA plant related to sage and mint, this potent hallucinogen has, other plant-based hallucinogens, been used for religious rituals in Central America for thousands of years. Because there are many varieties of salvia that are used in food or for ornamental reasons, salvia divinorum is not regulated in the US; however, the drug can be dangerous, causing intense highs. The effects set in around 15 minutes after it is smoked, chewed, or inhaled; it is less potent, and not hallucinogenic, when it is consumed orally.
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM): In very small doses, this drug is found in over-the-counter cough syrups and capsules that treat symptoms of the cold or flu. In larger doses, though, this synthetic drug goes from being a cough suppressant to a dissociative anesthetic; a person who abuses DXM will experience changes in time, distorted visual perception, some stimulation, and dissociation from one’s body.
  • KetamineOnce used as a surgical anesthetic, this drug is often cited for its notorious dissociative effects. It is still used sometimes in the medical field, but it is only applied to humans when other anesthesia does not work. People who receive ketamine as a surgical anesthetic are known to wake up disturbed, disoriented, and afraid. Dose-dependent effects include a sense of floating and body dissociation, stimulation, and hallucinations. Large doses produce an effect called the K-hole, when a person feels on the edge of death or has an out-of-body experience because they are very close to being fully anesthetized.
  • Phencyclidine (PCP): Also originally developed as a general anesthetic, this drug produces dissociative effects, and it is still sometimes used in the medical field. As a white crystalline powder, the substance can be dissolved into a drink, water or alcohol, and consumed; it may also be sold in tablets or capsules. Low doses produce hallucinations, typically either visual, auditory, or both; and large doses can produce an overdose, coma, or death.
  • NBOMes: These dangerous drugs are technically legal in many states, and they are often marketed as legal LSD. However, this class of synthetic hallucinogens produces rapid, intense, and long-lasting hallucinations that often cause psychotic effects, causing the person to accidentally harm themselves or others around them. There are reported cases of overdose associated with NBOMes, including at least one death.

Effects of Hallucinogens

There are several short-term effects caused by hallucinogens and a few long-term effects that may become chronic conditions.

Short-term physical effects from hallucinogens include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Raised body temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Numbness
  • Physical weakness
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Facial flushing
  • Dehydration
  • Dry mouth
  • Appetite changes
  • Rapid emotional changes
  • Paranoia
  • Nervousness
  • Delusions of grandeur
  • Vomiting

Some hallucinogens may trigger heart conditions or stomach problems in those who are prone to these issues. Underlying heart issues combined with any potent drug, including hallucinogens, can cause a heart attack.

In rare cases, in which a person takes a large dose of a hallucinogen, the individual may trigger persistent psychosis. This is more ly in a person who is at risk for a mental illness, but it can also occur in those with no known risk factors.

Ongoing psychosis will require a lifetime of mental and behavioral health treatment, and involves life-altering symptoms :

  • Visual disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Disordered thinking
  • Mood swings or disturbances

Dissociative hallucinogens are more dangerous because they are more ly to induce panic, dissociation from reality, increased blood pressure, heightened temperature, breathing rate, and numbness.

High doses of some dissociative drugs, PCP, may cause seizures; some people become extremely violent and are ly to cause harm to those around them; and some people may spontaneously stop breathing, experience dangerously high body temperature causing damage to internal organs, or suffer from a heart attack.

 While psychedelic hallucinogens do not cause many harmful long-term effects, dissociative hallucinogens, deliriants, and research chemicals may cause brain damage. Memory, cognition, speech, mood, and social life can all be negatively impacted by these drugs.

The Dangerous Impact of Hallucinogens

It is very rare for hallucinogens to cause overdoses or withdrawal symptoms, but there are some negative impacts associated with consuming hallucinogenic substances. The riskiest part of hallucinogenic drugs involves a changed perception of reality, which is the goal of taking these substances.

However, people may have a “bad trip,” and experience panic, anxiety, and paranoia. They may see terrible things that are not real.

This can lead to accidental harm to oneself or others, including falling, lashing out at hallucinations, damaging the skin due to tactile hallucinations, displaying erratic behavior, and even committing suicide.

Some hallucinogens produce “flashbacks,” or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). LSD is the most famous substance that causes this condition, but a few other hallucinogens may induce this effect.

HPPD can involve seeing light trails or halos around light sources, re-experiencing emotional sensations from the trip, or having other visual, auditory, tactile, or emotional experiences associated with the original trip. LSD can produce HPPD in people even after one use.

While flashbacks are not often considered negative, they can be distracting in dangerous situations, and they can cause panic or depression.

People who have schizophrenia or other related psychotic disorders should not take hallucinogenic drugs because it will make symptoms worse and harder to treat.

While marijuana is the most commonly abused psychedelic drug among those with schizophrenia, other hallucinogens can increase tardive dyskinesia, manic episodes, and perceptual problems with reality versus fantasy.

Abusing these drugs earlier in life can also bring the condition on earlier.

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Source: https://www.oxfordtreatment.com/substance-abuse/hallucinogens/


Hallucinogens: what are the effects?

Hallucinogens have powerful effects on the brain. The drugs can induce a distorted sense of sight, hearing, and touch or change the users' impressions of time and space.

On some “trips,” users experience sensations that are enjoyable and mentally stimulating with a sense of heightened self-awareness and insight.

“Bad trips,” however, can include terrifying thoughts and nightmarish feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and despair; these may include fears of insanity, death, or losing control of one’s mind or body.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people who use hallucinogenic drugs may experience:

  • Difficulty concentrating, communicating clearly, or distinguishing between reality and illusion
  • Panic attacks, often at the height of the drug experience
  • Distorted perceptions, impaired judgment, and body-wide dissociative or stimulating sensations, which may induce panic reactions or violent defensive behaviors
  • Agitation or paranoia
  • Perceptual distortions
  • Feelings of euphoria, mania, spirituality, and superiority
  • Feelings of anxiousness, sadness, depression, and terror

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Mydriasis (dilated pupils), particularly with LSD use
  • Rapid behavior fluctuations from agitated and combative behavior to appearing somnolent, sedated, or relaxed
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate) or tachypnea (rapid breathing)
  • Mild-to-moderate elevations in blood pressure
  • Hyperthermia, or increased body temperature, specifically during an episode of extreme exertion, combative behavior, or infection
  • In some cases, traumatic injuries caused by altered perceptions of reality or during combative or destructive behavior
  • Cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, muscle rigidity, acute renal failure, and in some cases, death

LSD users may also show additional symptoms of:

  • Agitation and psychosis (disconnection from reality)
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Physical symptoms such as mydriasis, tachycardia, and tachypnea
  • Nausea, loss of appetite, and dry mouth
  • Heightened sensations
  • Trembling and tremors

Two long-term symptoms associated specifically with LSD use include:

Persistent Psychosis

Some LSD users experience devastating psychological effects that persist after the trip has ended, producing a long-lasting psychotic- state. This may limit their capacity to recognize reality, think rationally, or communicate with others.

LSD-induced persistent psychosis may include dramatic mood swings from mania to profound depression, vivid visual disturbances, and hallucinations. In rare cases, the effects may last for years.

Though some literature reviews indicate that these symptoms may be more ly to occur in those with a family history of schizophrenia, they have also been known to occur in people who have no history or other symptoms of psychological disorder.

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

Some former LSD users report experiences popularly known as flashbacks; this phenomenon is called Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, or HPPD, by physicians. These episodes are spontaneous, repeated recurrences of the sensory distortions that were originally produced by LSD.

The flashbacks can range from being pleasant to triggering feelings of anxiety. The experience may include hallucinations, though usually the flashbacks are visual disturbances such as seeing false motion, trails attached to moving objects, or bright or colored flashes. Flashbacks generally last a minute or two.

The condition can be persistent and, in some cases, remains for years after the individual has stopped using the drug.

PCP and ketamine users show typical hallucinogen symptoms, and may show additional symptoms, including:

  • Flushing, sweating, and dizziness
  • Numbness to touch, pain, or injury; as a result, the user may be vulnerable to potential injuries, some life-threatening
  • Mixed nystagmus, or repetitive, uncontrolled movements of the eyes
  • Confusion, poor memory
  • Violent or self-destructive behavior
  • Bizarre behavior that can lead to death from drownings, burns, falls (sometimes from high places), and automobile accidents
  • Prolonged psychotic behavior and inability to speak
  • Episodes of severe depression and schizophrenia-related symptoms
  • Paranoia, fearfulness, or anxiety, sometimes lasting for several days after the trip
  • Prolonged, repeated use of ketamine is associated with a condition known as “ketamine bladder syndrome,” a persistent form of bladder damage that presents with symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection

Large doses—particularly of PCP—may cause convulsions, coma, hyperthermia, and death. Chronic users may report symptoms for as long as a year after he or she stops taking these drugs.

Psilocin and psilocybin (from magic mushrooms) users may experience symptoms similar to those of LSD and mescaline and may manifest additional symptoms of:

  • Hyperreflexia (overreactive reflexes), which may trigger feelings of anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Adverse gastrointestinal (GI) reactions associated with ingestion, including abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting

Mescaline users may have the typical hallucinogen symptoms, and may also show:

  • Intoxication that generally lasts 6 to 8 hours, usually followed by somnolence
  • Adverse GI distress associated with ingestion, including abdominal cramping, nausea, or vomiting
  • Perspiration
  • Hallucinations, typically including intense visual images of bright colors and geometric patterns
  • Adverse perceptions of self, which may trigger anxiety or depression
  • A sense of superiority and tremendous power
  • Physical injury that may have occurred because of dysphoria and sense of power
  • Slow heart rate
  • Larger ingestions may produce hypotension (low blood pressure) or respiratory depression

The effects of hallucinogens may result in part from their interference with the activity of brain chemicals such as serotonin and glutamate, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The effects of hallucinogens are typically more unpredictable than those of other drugs because the class contains several different compounds, each of which has effects that can vary greatly from person to person.

The range of effects depends on a variety of factors: the amount ingested; physiological factors such as the user’s weight and metabolism; the user's personality, mood, history of mental illness, and expectations; the setting of use; whether the user is alone or with other people; and whether the substance is ingested alone or in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/hallucinogens

The Different Effects of Hallucinogens on Your Body

Hallucinogens: what are the effects?

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Researchers believe that hallucinogens alter the perceptions of users by acting on neural circuits in the brain, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in perception, mood, and cognition. Whereas dissociative drugs are thought to disrupt glutamate transmitters in the brain, hallucinogens are believed to affect the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Hallucinogens can also affect regions of the brain that deal with regulating arousal and physiological responses to stress and panic, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) research.

People who use hallucinogens can see things, hear things and feel sensations that seem to be very real, but do not in fact exist. These altered perceptions are known as hallucinations.

Typically, these hallucinatory effects can begin from 20 to 90 minutes after ingestion and can last up to 12 hours.

One problem for users of hallucinogens is the fact that the effects of the drug can be highly unpredictable. The amount ingested, plus the user's personality, mood, surroundings, and expectations can all play a role in how the “trip” will go.

What hallucinogens can do is distort the user's capacity to recognize reality, think rationally and communicate. In short, a drug-induced psychosis, and an unpredictable one.

Sometimes, the user will experience an enjoyable and mentally stimulating trip. Some report having a sense of heightened understanding. But, users can have a “bad trip,” that produces terrifying thoughts and feelings of anxiety and despair.

According to NIDA research, bad trips can result in fears of losing control, insanity, or death. The following is a list of short-term effects of hallucinogenic drugs, provided by the NIDA:

  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
  • Dizziness and sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite, dry mouth, and sweating
  • Numbness, weakness, and tremors
  • Impulsiveness and rapid emotional shifts that can range from fear to euphoria, with transitions so rapid that the user may seem to experience several emotions simultaneously

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring hallucinogen found in some types of mushrooms. It can cause:

  • Feelings of relaxation (similar to the effects of low doses of marijuana)
  • Nervousness, paranoia, and panic reactions
  • Introspective/spiritual experiences

While the effects can vary depending on the type of hallucinogen and dosage, there are some general short-term effects that most of these drugs share.

  • Hallucinations, including seeing, hearing, touching, or smelling things in a distorted way or perceiving things that do not exist
  • Intensified feelings and sensory experiences (brighter colors, sharper sounds)
  • Mixed senses (“seeing” sounds or “hearing” colors)
  • Changes in sense or perception of time (time goes by slowly)
  • Increased energy and heart rate
  • Nausea

One result of the repeated use of hallucinogens is the development of tolerance. Studies show that LSD users develop a high degree of tolerance for the drug very quickly. This means they have to take increasingly larger amounts to get the same effects.

Research indicates that if a user develops a tolerance to one drug in the hallucinogen class, he or she will also have a tolerance for other drugs in the same class. For example, if someone has developed a tolerance to LSD, they will also have a tolerance to psilocybin and mescaline.

They will not, however, have a tolerance to drugs that affect other neurotransmitter systems, such as amphetamines and marijuana.

Tolerance to hallucinogens is not permanent. If the person stops taking the drug for several days, the tolerance will disappear.

Also, chronic users of hallucinogens typically do not experience any ​physical withdrawal symptoms when they cease use of drugs, un users who have become dependent on other drugs or alcohol.

Two of the more serious long-term effects of hallucinogen use are persistent psychosis and flashbacks, otherwise known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). Many times these conditions will occur together.

According to the NIDA, here are some of the specific long-term effects of hallucinogen use:

  • Visual disturbances
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Paranoia
  • Mood disturbances
  • Hallucinations
  • Other visual disturbances (such as seeing halos or trails attached to moving objects)
  • Symptoms sometimes are mistaken for neurological disorders (such as stroke or brain tumor)

Although rare, the occurrence of these conditions is as unpredictable as having a bad trip.

Flashbacks and psychosis can happen to anyone, but research has shown that they are more often observed in patients with a history of psychological problems.

The NIDA reports that persistent psychosis and flashbacks can occur to some users even after a single exposure to hallucinogenic drugs.

There is really no established treatment for flashbacks, although many who experience them are treated with antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, and psychotherapy.

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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Carter R. The Brain in Minutes. Quercus. 2018.

  2. Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2015.

  3. Solof B. The Therapist's Guide to Addiction Medicine: A Handbook for Addiction.Central Recovery Press. 2013.

  4. Das S, Barnwal P, Ramasamy A, Sen S, Mondal S. Lysergic acid diethylamide: a drug of 'use'?. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2016;6(3):214-28.  doi:10.1177/2045125316640440

  5. Halberstadt AL. Recent advances in the neuropsychopharmacology of serotonergic hallucinogens. Behav Brain Res. 2015;277:99-120.  doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2014.07.016

  6. Hermle L, Simon M, Ruchsow M, Geppert M. Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012;2(5):199-205.  doi:10.1177/2045125312451270

Additional Reading

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs.” Research Report Series Updated January 2014.

Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-effects-of-hallucinogens-67500

Hallucinogens: Commonly Abused And Dangerous Drugs

Hallucinogens: what are the effects?

Though Hallucinogens have a history of medicinal and spiritual use, today they are commonly abused for their psychoactive effects. These substances, also known as dissociatives, make up a diverse group of drugs that, though not chemically similar in most cases, produce similar alterations in perception, feeling, and experiences.

How Hallucinogens Work

The different plants and chemical compounds that make up the group of drugs known as Hallucinogens alter normal brain function by disrupting communication between chemical systems in the brain and spinal cord.

Hallucinogens also hinder the release of serotonin (the chemical responsible for regulating mood, sleep, sensory perception, body temperature, sex drive, and muscle control). This is why many individuals who use Hallucinogens report increased feelings of euphoria, touch, and sexual pleasure.

However, repeated use can train the brain to become dependent on a Hallucinogen for a release of serotonin, instead of the brain producing normal amounts on its own.

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Phencyclidine (PCP) was originally developed in the 1950s as an anesthetic for surgery. After it was later discovered to be a dissociative anesthetic, its medical use was discontinued in the 1960s.

It produces an “ body” experience but can also result in serious side effects. PCP can be found in liquid, powder, and white crystal forms and is often added to other illicit substances (i.e.

Meth, LSD, and Marijuana) to enhance psychedelic effects.

Other names for PCP include Angel Dust, Hog, Love Boat, and Peace Pill.


Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) is an odorless, colorless substance known for its highly potent psychedelic effects. Originally used as a therapeutic aid in the 1960s, it has largely been debunked as a clinical therapy aid today.

LSD is most commonly abused by individuals in their late teens and early twenties. For the most part, LSD is consumed orally in powder, liquid, or pill form and produces mood-elevating “trips.

” Some have reported acute anxiety and depressions after use due to LSD’s effect on the brain’s serotonin levels.

Other names for LSD include:

  • Acid
  • Blotter Acid
  • Dots
  • Mellow Yellow
  • Window Pane
  • Yellow Sunshine


Ketamine is a surgical, dissociative anesthetic that also produces some hallucinogenic effects. It is primarily an injectable, used widely by veterinarians, but can also come in powder or pill forms. Because Ketamine is a sedative and induces immobility, relief from pain, and amnesia, it has also been used as a date rape drug.

The onset of effects is quick (often occurring within a few minutes) and the hallucinations its produces last approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Sometimes a “bad trip” happens, leaving someone who is high on ketamine in a terrifying state referred to as a “k-hole.

” Common street names include Kit Kat, Special K, Super Acid, Super K, Vitamin K, and Special La Coke.


Mescaline is a hallucinogenic compound that is the active ingredient in Peyote, a small, spineless cactus. It is traditionally used by Native Americans in spiritual rites central to the Native American Church.

Though it has been suggested to be an effective treatment for depression and alcoholism, it remains a Schedule I substance. Abuse of Mescaline can cause illusions and hallucinations, altered perception of space and time, and altered body image.

Peyote and Mescaline are also known as Buttons, Cactus, Mesc, and Peyoto.


Psilocybin is a chemical compound contained in some psychedelic mushrooms native to Mexico, Central America, and the US. These mushrooms are distinguishable from edible mushrooms for their long, slender stems and caps with dark gills on the underside.

They are generally ingested orally or brewed in tea to reduce the bitter flavor. Psilocybin can produce hallucinations, an inability to differentiate reality from fantasy, panic attacks, and psychosis if consumed in large doses.

It is also known as Magic Mushrooms and Shrooms.

Bath Salts

Synthetic Cathinones, or “Bath Salts,” are man-made illicit substances known for their stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. Chemically, Bath Salts are related to the khat plant, grown in East Africa and southern Arabia. Its makeup varies with each lab that produces it, increasing its potential for fatal use.

Bath Salts are usually a white or brown crystal- powder, packaged with labels “not for human consumption” to bypass federal regulations.

They are sold legally as cheap substitutes for stimulants Meth and Cocaine because labs are able to reintroduce slightly-altered versions of the substance in quick succession and dodge law enforcement efforts.

Salvia Divinorum

Salvia Divinorum is a plant with psychoactive properties that is native to Mexico and Central and South America.

Also called Diviner’s Sage, Magic Mint, and Sage of the Seers, this Hallucinogen distorts time and causes a “flying” feeling. Unintended physical effects include dizziness, lack of coordination, chills, and nausea.

Salvia Divinorum is legal in some states, decriminalized in others, and an illegal Schedule 1 substance in many states as well.


DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, is a hallucinogenic found in some plants as well as inside the brains, blood, and urine of mammals.

Those seeking a high from the compound commonly use Amazonian plants, Ayahuasca, to extract a derivative in the form of white, crystalline powder.

DMT can be smoked, injected, or consumed orally to produce intense hallucinations (including “true” hallucinations, involving total departures from reality) and euphoria. It is a Schedule 1 drug in the US and is also referred to as Dimitri.


Officially known as Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid, this central nervous system depressant can be found naturally in human cells.

GHB is synthesized for the effects of euphoria, decreased inhibitions, sleepiness, disorientation, loss of coordination, and decreased heart rate it produces. It is sold as a liquid, or as a white powder commonly dissolved in a liquid, juice or alcohol.

Xyrem is the FDA-approved prescription name, but it is also called Roofies, Easy Lay, Georgia Home Boy, Goop, Scoop, Grievous Bodily Harm, and Liquid Ecstasy.

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Abuse of Hallucinogens

Evidence has suggested that some Hallucinogens can be addictive when used repeatedly because individuals can develop a tolerance to their effects. As a result, some must use more of a given substance to produce the same effects.

For example, LSD is not considered to be addictive, but people may need to take increasing amounts of it each time to get the same “high.” People may also develop an addiction to PCP after prolonged abuse. Withdrawal from PCP may produce drug cravings, headaches, and sweating.

Detox from any hallucinogen is not something that should be done alone.


In 2013, 229,000 Americans aged 12 and older reported current LSD use.

By 2018, 16.6% of Americans over 26 had reported some lifetime use of Hallucinogens.

Effects typically begin with 90 minutes of ingestion and can last up to 12 hours long.

Find Treatment for a Hallucinogen Addiction

Currently, there are no government-approved medications to treat a Hallucinogen addiction. Behavioral therapy in particular may benefit individuals seeking recovery from Hallucinogens.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment centers are also available to treat a variety of addictions and co-occurring disorders.

If you need help finding the right treatment center, contact a dedicated recovery expert now, and start your journey to sobriety.

Source: https://www.rehabspot.com/drugs/hallucinogens/