Hallucinogens | Get the Facts | Ambrosia Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center
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Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that cause distortions in the perception of reality. Hallucinogens can be found in a wide variety of plants and mushrooms or can be synthetically composed. The average starting age of abuse is 19 years old.

Types of Hallucinogens

COMMERCIAL NAMES
STREET NAMES
COMMON FORMS
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
COMMERCIAL NAMES
Ayahuasca
STREET NAMES
Aya, Yage, Hoasca
COMMON FORMS
Brewed as tea
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
Swallowed
COMMERCIAL NAMES
DMT
STREET NAMES
Dimitri
COMMON FORMS
White or yellow crystalline powder
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
Smoked, injected
COMMERCIAL NAMES
Ketamine
STREET NAMES
Special K, Vitamin K, Cat Valium
COMMON FORMS
Liquid, white powder
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
Injected, smoked, snorted
COMMERCIAL NAMES
Khat
STREET NAMES
African Salad, Catha, Chat, Kat, Oat
COMMON FORMS
Fresh or dried leaves
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
Chewed, brewed as tea
COMMERCIAL NAMES
LSD
STREET NAMES
Acid, Blotter, Sheets, Blue Heaven, Microdot, Cubes
COMMON FORMS
Tablet; capsule; clear liquid; small, decorated squares of absorbent paper that liquid has been added to
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
Swallowed, absorbed through mouth tissues
COMMERCIAL NAMES
Mescaline (Peyote)
STREET NAMES
Buttons, Cactus, Mesc.
COMMON FORMS
Fresh or dried buttons, capsule
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
Swallowed (chewed or soaked in water)
COMMERCIAL NAMES
PCP
STREET NAMES
Angel Dust, Boat, Hog, Peace Pill, Love Boat
COMMON FORMS
White or colored powder, tablet, or capsule
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
Injected, snorted, swallowed, smoked
COMMERCIAL NAMES
Psilocybin
STREET NAMES
Magic Mushrooms, Shrooms, Little Smoke, Purple Passion
COMMON FORMS
Fresh or dried mushrooms with long, slender stems topped by caps with dark gills
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
mushrooms with long, slender stems topped by caps with dark gills Swallowed (eaten, brewed as tea, or added to other foods)
COMMERCIAL NAMES
Salvia
STREET NAMES
Magic Mint, Sally-D, Diviners Sage
COMMON FORMS
Fresh or dried leaves
COMMON WAYS TAKEN
Smoked, chewed or brewed as tea

Health Effects

When under the influence of any hallucinogen, the effects the drugs produce are rapid, intense emotional swings, seeing images that seem real but are not and overwhelming sensations.

Hallucinogens temporarily disrupt communication between neurotransmitters throughout the brain and spinal cord that regulate mood, sensory perception, sleep, hunger, body temperature and muscle control.

Short-Term Effects

The effects of hallucinogens can begin within 20 to 90 minutes and can last as long as 6 to 12 hours. Salvia's effects are more short-lived, appearing in less than 1 minute and lasting less than 30 minutes. Hallucinogen users refer to the experiences brought on by these drugs as "trips", calling the unpleasant experiences "bad trips."

Along with hallucinations, other short-term general effects include:

  • increased heart and breathing rate
  • nausea
  • intensified feelings and sensory experiences
  • changes in sense of time
  • increased blood pressure or body temperature
  • loss of appetite
  • dry mouth
  • sleep problems
  • mixed senses ("seeing" sounds or "hearing" colors)
  • spiritual experiences
  • relaxation or detachment from self/environment
  • uncoordinated movements
  • excessive sweating
  • panic
  • paranoia - extreme, unreasonable distrust of others
  • psychosis - disordered thinking detached from reality

Long Terms Effects

Little is known about the long-term effects of hallucinogens. Researchers do know that ketamine users may develop symptoms that include ulcers in the bladder, kidney problems and poor memory. Repeated use of PCP can result in long-term effects that may continue for a year or more after use stops, such as:

  • speech problems
  • memory loss
  • weight loss
  • anxiety
  • depression and suicidal thoughts

Persistent psychosis or a series of continuing mental problems can occur, including:

  • visual disturbances
  • disorganized thinking
  • paranoia
  • mood changes

Flashbacks are a recurrence of certain drug experiences and can also occur:

  • without warning
  • within a few days or more than a year after drug abuse

Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD) is visual disturbances that affect daily functioning, including:

  • seeing trails attached to moving objects
  • halos or auras surrounding objects
  • difficulty distinguishing between colors

These symptoms are sometimes mistaken for other disorders, such as stroke or a brain tumor.

Addiction


Evidence indicates that certain hallucinogens can be addictive or that people can develop a tolerance to them. Use of some hallucinogens also produces tolerance to other similar drugs.

For example, LSD is not considered an addictive drug because it does not cause uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors. However, LSD does produce tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take higher doses to achieve the same effect. LSD produces tolerance to other hallucinogens, including psilocybin.

On the other hand, PCP is a hallucinogen that can be addictive. People who stop repeated use of PCP experience drug cravings, headaches, and sweating as typical withdrawal symptoms.

High-Risk Use


  • Psilocybin (shrooms) users risk poisoning and possibly death from using a poisonous mushroom by mistake.
  • High doses of PCP can cause seizures, coma, and death though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication.
  • Interactions between PCP and depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepines (prescribed to relieve anxiety or promote sleep) can also lead to coma.
    Some bizarre behaviors resulting from hallucinogens that users display in public places may prompt public health or law enforcement personnel intervention.
  • Peyote’s main chemical (mescaline) can affect the fetus of a pregnant woman.
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