The first synthetic hallucinogen, LSD was derived in 1938 and was used by many psychiatrists to help patients access repressed emotions. LSD is classified as a Schedule I type drug with no medical potential and a higher abuse potential. LSD, as with other hallucinogens, is known to cause visual and auditory hallucinations as well as anxiety. Panic attacks, acute psychosis and altered mental status are all common effects from this drug as well as the rest of the hallucinogen family.
MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy, is considered a stimulant. This party drug can also cause hallucinations and delusions and, therefore, is also classified as a hallucinogen if these side effects occur.
PCP is in the dissociative anesthetic category of hallucinogenic drugs. PCP causes slurred speech, numbness in the extremities and hallucinations. In higher doses, PCP can cause seizures and coma, and can even be lethal. Repeated use of PCP can produce long-term effects — including memory loss, speech impediments and unpredictable flashbacks.
Mushroom hallucinogens have been used for thousands of years in religious ceremonies, and today they are used by the general population to induce a state of visual and auditory hallucinations. Many mushroom users desire to enhance routine experiences, emotions or social interactions, and to disconnect from reality. Mushrooms have been known to be commonly used at music festivals or among international backpackers traveling around the globe. Mushrooms containing ibotenic acid, muscimol and psilocybin are known to have significant psychoactive effects. Hallucinogenic symptoms usually last for six to eight hours, and care is primarily supportive.
Peyote (Lophophora williamsii or Lophophora diffusa) is a spineless cactus with small protrusions called “buttons” that grow in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. These cacti are used for psychoactive hallucinogenic purposes. Mescaline is the main active psychedelic ingredient in peyote. Mescaline can be synthetically derived in a laboratory and made into a pill form. The peyote “buttons” can be used to form a liquid, which can be ingested, or a powder that can be rolled into a leaf and smoked. Marijuana might be added to this as well.
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Symptoms caused by hallucinogen use
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the “effects of hallucinogens can begin within 20 to 90 minutes and can last as long as 6 to 12 hours.” Other effects of hallucinogens include:
- Increased heart rate
- Altered visual perceptions
- A false sense of reality
- Acute psychosis
- Enhanced emotions