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)
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.
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 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.
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
- 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.