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What Are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens are a variety of drugs that belong to diverse classes. Hallucinogens’ mechanism of action is to create sensory hallucinations by altering the user’s mind. They start to see, hear, and sense something that is very different from their immediate environment. They are of two kinds – classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. The second group of hallucinogens also causes the users to have out-of-body experiences as they dissociate themselves from their surroundings.

Classic hallucinogens can be extracted from plants, like Ayahuasca available in nature, and Psilocybin mushrooms or magic mushrooms, or they can be manmade, like the club drugs LSD, MDMA, and PCP.

Dissociative drugs are synthetically made, usually for medical purposes. These include the surgery anesthetic ketamine and Dextromethorphan, which is found in OTC medicine, such as cough syrups. Classic hallucinogens uses are mostly used for recreation, in religious rituals, or to have transcendental and spiritual experiences.

Ways of consuming hallucinogens:

  • Swallowing pills or liquid
  • Intaking raw or dried forms
  • Sublingual absorption (placing blotter paper on tongue)
  • Injecting
  • Snorting


Types of Hallucinogens

The most commonly abused hallucinogens drug list includes:


Lysergic acid diethylamide is the topmost, highly potent hallucinogen. LSD is synthetically manufactured, originally used for psychiatric therapy; but those properties got debunked in the 1980s. This Schedule I drug, called “club drug,” not unlike ketamine and MDMA, affects serotonin in your body. The neurotransmitter causes the effects of hallucinogens on the nervous system, which manipulate your behavior, perception, and regulation. The user has a blended experience of their senses.


PCP or Phencyclidine was earlier used as a dissociative anesthetic but discontinued in 1965. Now, you can see it as an additive combined with a street drug like LSD , methamphetamine, and marijuana. It is available as a powder, and is snorted, injected, smoked, or swallowed. Apart from imparting enhanced psychedelic effects and “out of body” experiences in the user, it can also cause hallucinogens effects on behavior like irritation and agitation.

Magic Mushrooms

Psychedelic mushrooms contain psilocybin and psilocin, which induce psychedelic hallucinogens effects that are similar to LSD. Psilocybin is a Schedule I Controlled Substance, making it of no recognized medical use. However, the abuse potential for this drug is very high. Some hallucinogens effects on the brain are depression, frightening hallucinations, impaired judgment, heightened sensory experiences, and panic attacks.


GHB or Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, present in human cells, can also be synthesized for its sedative effects. GHB intoxication and side effects depend on the dosage amount taken by the user, along with the presence of other drugs in their system. They include decreased inhibitions, reduced heart rate, sleepiness, loss of motor control, euphoria, disorientation, and the like.


DMT or dimethyltryptamine, street name Dimitri, is a chemical found in certain Amazonian plants. Known as spirit molecule, it is widely used in religious ceremonies and similar settings that desire to achieve deep spiritual insights. It has got an illegal status in the U.S. and can induce the near-death experiences we keep hearing about in some mystical situations-related news.

Mescaline and Peyote

Peyote cactus naturally produces the psychedelic substance Mescaline, which was extensively used in Native American traditions. It also garnered a reputation as an alternative treatment option for depression and alcoholism. However, it is a Schedule I drug that carries many negative effects of hallucinogens on the brain, such as vivid mental images ,altered perception of space and time, distorted sense of reality and their body.

Salvia Divinorum

Salvia Divinorum is a legal drug in the U.S., which comes from a psychoactive plant. It is nicknamed the Diviner’s Sage or Sage of the Seers, as it causes a pleasurable sensation of flying or floating through time and space. It can cause nausea, dizziness, chills, lack of coordination, etc.

Hallucinogens Intoxication

Although it is relatively rare to get physically dependent, it is not impossible to have hallucinogens addiction.

Hallucinogens alter your brain to manipulate your:

  • Sensory perception
  • Body temperature
  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Sexual behavior
  • Muscle control

When hallucinogens are taken for the very purpose of creating distortions in the users’ perception of reality, it is more likely that their intention is to get high more often. So, they start taking more and more of these drugs and develop tolerance.
Hallucinogens overdose can occur, but the intensity depends on the kind of drug taken and the combination with other intoxicants. However, most of the hallucinogens produce unpleasant effects, some even life-threatening medical emergencies. Especially with dissociative drugs, when taken in high doses, along with CNS depressants can lead to coma or death.
Users can also face fatalities when they mistake some poisonous mushrooms for Psilocybin mushrooms. Physical issues are not the only problems of hallucinogens overdose; but profound alteration in the brain’s perception can cause people to have suicidal feelings and they can be a threat to others, too.

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Hallucinogens Addiction Symptoms

As the users get habituated to the effects of hallucinogens on the body, they start withstanding more and more amounts of the drug of abuse. Hence, their regular doses may not be sufficient for them to achieve the desired high. This tolerance to hallucinogens may also let them develop a tolerance for certain other drugs with a high risk for addiction.

In any case, if a person using hallucinogens develops tolerance, they can foster addiction. However, this habit can produce unpredictable hallucinogens effects on the body, and with drugs like LSD, there is more risk of facing severe side effects, both long-term and short-term. Others like PCP can cause physical dependence, meaning that if the user abruptly stops its use, they can experience intense hallucinogens withdrawal symptoms.

While LSD is the most abused hallucinogen, PCP is a close second, and Saliva abuse was mostly seen in teenagers and high school seniors. Even though the effects of hallucinogens are not as severe as opioid addiction symptoms, these drugs still pose a significant risk of physical dependence.

The level of risk of addiction posed by different hallucinogens vary, but certain drugs can create a tolerance for more potent ones. For instance, LSD in itself may not be addictive, but taking it frequently will make your body tolerant and more receptive to more dangerous hallucinogens like psilocybin, DMT, and others.

Compared to that, PCP and ayahuasca tea have a deeper impact on the users’ psyche. Particularly when you abuse hallucinogens and alcohol together, the results will be more unpredictable.

Hallucinogens Addiction Statistics

Hallucinogens addiction statistics info

Hallucinogens Effects Short-Term

Hallucinogens addiction side effects include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Impulsiveness
  • Distorted thinking
  • Psychosis
  • Feelings of detachment –
  • derealization: detachment from reality and
  • depersonalization: detachment from the body
  • Seizures
  • Flushed skin
  • Tremors
  • Numbness
  • Respiratory and cardiac issues
  • Kidney failure

Hallucinogens Effects Long-Term

There is not much information or research about the long-term effects of addiction to a wide range of hallucinogens. However, with the statistics we have about a few particular drugs, it can be inferred that long-term abuse may show effects of hallucinogens on the brain and body like persistent psychosis, which encompasses visual disturbances, mood changes, paranoia, disorganized thinking patterns, and memory flashbacks.

Other effects of hallucinogens on the central nervous system can cause flashbacks in people that abuse the drugs for longer periods. They keep reliving their past experiences repeatedly. Recurrences can happen even a year or so after the abuse. These are excessive, severe, and can affect the users’ daily functioning, leading to a condition known as HPPD – hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder. It may happen more with LSD, called acid flashbacks.

Long-term PCP abusers experience anxiety, memory loss, speech impairment, weight struggles, depression, and suicidal thoughts for up to more than a year after quitting PCP. On the other hand, ketamine long-term abuse issues may involve bladder, liver, kidney, and memory problems.

Combined with other drugs of abuse, hallucinogens can cause panic, psychosis, paranoia, and other heightened unwanted consequences. This becomes polydrug abuse, where the user may experience wildly contrasting side effects. Some situations may even lead to an overdose.

Hallucinogens Withdrawal Syndrome

The addiction potential of hallucinogens vary. For example, PCP is highly addictive and with repeated use, you can experience cravings, headaches, nausea, and sweating. DMT abuse and addiction potential remain unknown. Evidence suggests that DMT, unlike other hallucinogens, does not cause tolerance. The same is the case with sipping ayahuasca tea.

On the other hand, LSD is not so addictive, and hence, users may not indulge in uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior. However, they can develop a tolerance and take incremental amounts of the drug or in shorter time gaps. Either of these situations can be extremely dangerous. In addition, LSD tolerance and addiction can cause other hallucinogen tolerance, including psilocybin.

Since most hallucinogens are Schedule I controlled substances, they have a high abuse potential, which means the users crave more of the drugs. And when they do not find these drugs, they go into ​Hallucinogens withdrawal symptoms.
This is also the reason why quitting hallucinogens use suddenly is not advisable. It can lead to very unpredictable consequences, even causing the recovering person to go into an overdose stage. There are several ways to properly wean from the drug, including the most beneficial detoxification programs at reputable drug addiction treatment centers.

You can use several online resources or even the AddictionAide website to look for drug rehab near you.


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