Hallucinogens or psychedelics are mind-altering drugs, which affect the mind’s perceptions, causing bizarre, unpredictable behavior, and severe, sensory disturbances that may place users at risk of serious injuries or death. Hallucinogens powerfully affect the brain, distorting the way our five senses work and changes our impressions of time and space. People who use these drugs a lot may have a hard time concentrating, communicating, or telling the difference between reality and illusion. Hallucinogens cause people to experience – you guessed it – hallucinations, imagined experiences that seem real.
The word “hallucinate” comes from Latin words meaning, “to wander in the mind. ” Your brain controls all of your perceptions; the way you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Chemical messengers transmit information from nerve cell to nerve cell in the body and the brain. Your nerve cells are called neurons, and their chemical messengers are called neurotransmitters. Chemicals like hallucinogens can disrupt this communication system, and the results are changes in the way you sense the world around you. There’s still a lot that scientists don’t know about the effects of Hallucinogens on the brain though.
Some hallucinogens occur naturally in trees, vines, seeds, fungi and leaves. Others are made in laboratories by mixing different chemical substances. LSD or acid is one of the most common, well-known hallucinogens. Psilocin or Psilocybin mushrooms, Mescaline or Peyote, MDMA, Bufotenine, Morning Glory seeds, Jimson weed, PCP and DMT are less common psychedelics with effects similar to LSD. PCP and Ketamine are drugs with hallucinogenic properties. Some drugs, such as cannabis, can cause hallucinogen-like effects when used in high doses or in certain ways.
Using hallucinogens is often called tripping. In its pure form LSD is a white, odorless powder. This pure form is very strong, so LSD is usually mixed with other things to make the dose large enough to take. LSD comes in the form as liquids, tablets, capsules or squares of gelatin or blotting paper. LSD use can have many effects. These may include sleeplessness, trembling, and raised heart rate, and blood pressure. LSD users may feel several emotions at once (including extreme terror), and their senses may seem to get crossed, giving the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds.
Even a tiny speck of LSD can trigger these effects. Many LSD users have flashbacks; sudden repetitions of their LSD experiences, days or months after they stop using the drug. LSD has a slight bitter taste. “Blotter acid,” which is absorbent paper soaked in LSD and sold as squares, can be bought for $4 to $5 for a trip that lasts three to 12 hours. Other slang terms for LSD include Microdot, White Lightning, Blue Heaven, Windowpane, and Sugar Cubes. LSD is a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance with severe penalties for possession and use.
Mescaline is a hallucinogen that comes from the Peyote cactus. Mescaline is ingested. Morning Glory seeds are occasionally brewed into a tea or eaten for the hallucinogenic effects. There have been some reports of teens drinking “gordo juice,” a combination of Morning Glory seeds and fruit juice to counteract the bitter taste of the seeds. The seeds can cause convulsions, gangrene, and adverse psychological effects. Jimson weed (Angel’s Trumpet) is a wild, poisonous weed that produces hallucinations and has caused deaths among users.
DMT is another psychedelic drug that acts like LSD. PCP can be found as a pure white, crystal-like powder, tablet, capsule, or bitter tasting, clear liquid that is consumed orally, injected, sniffed, or smoked. PCP is often combined with marijuana and tobacco products. PCP effects are very unpredictable. For example, it may make some people hallucinate and become aggressive, while others may become drowsy and passive. PCP is often mixed with marijuana and tobacco products by dipping it in PCP-laced embalming fluid and then smoked.
Some slang terms for PCP include Angel Dust, Crystal, Jet Fuel, and Cyclone. Ketamine is closely related to PCP and was also used in the past as a surgical anesthetic. Currently, Ketamine is used in veterinary medicine. On the club scene, Ketamine can be found in liquid form or as a white powder that is snorted or smoked with marijuana or tobacco products. MDMA or ecstasy and MDA cause many things by allterting the role in so many things, such as mood, sleep, and control of heart rate.
Psilocybin or magic mushrooms is the hallucinogenic chemical that occurs in some mushrooms. In its pure form, Psilocybin is also a white powder, but it is usually sold as dried mushrooms or in substances made from mushrooms. Psilocybin is from the same chemical family as LSD so their effects are similar. Some people eat poisonous mushrooms thinking that they are the mushrooms that contain Psilocybin. This can be very dangerous as some poisonous mushrooms can cause death or permanent liver damage.
The effects of hallucinogens begin within half an hour of taking the drug, are strongest in three to five hours, and last for up to 12 hours. They can include: seeing, hearing, touching or smelling things in a distorted way or that don’t exist, colors become very bright, sounds become sharper, mixing of the senses (you hear colors or see sounds), changed sense of time (minutes can seem as slow as hours), space becomes distorted; strange bodily sensations (as though you are floating or that you are becoming part of another object), changed and intense thoughts, and emotional swings.
Effects on your body may include that: your muscles twitch, you feel weak, you feel numb, your pupils get bigger, you shake, you feel sick or vomit, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises, you breathe faster and deeper than normal, and your coordination is poor. Sometimes the effects of hallucinogens are negative. This is called a bad trip, and it is common among first time users. Effects of a bad trip can include: extreme anxiety or fear, frightening hallucinations like spiders crawling on the skin, panic, leading to taking risks (running across a busy street), feelings of going mad, paranoia, suicide or violence.
If someone you know is having a bad trip, they need to be reassured and comforted until the effects of the drug wear off. This can take many hours and may not disappear altogether for some days. There are few known long-term effects from hallucinogens. However, flashbacks times when you feel the effects of the drug again, can happen days, weeks or even years after taking the drug. Flashbacks can include visual hallucinations and other effects. They can happen without warning, last for a minute or two and can be disturbing. Flashbacks may be triggered by using other drugs or by stress, tiredness or physical exercise.
Regular users are more likely to experience flashbacks than people who only use the drug from time to time. Users of hallucinogens have been known to be driven into permanent insanity by these experiences. There are three types of flashbacks: emotional, somatic, and perceptual. The emotional flashback is the most dangerous. It brings back strong feelings of panic, fear and loneliness, and creates an intense and very real recollection of the original bad trip. A somatic flashback consists of altered body sensations, e. g. , tremors, weakness, nausea, dizziness, etc. at were part of the original trip. In a perceptual flashback, the user re-experiences some of the sensory distortions of the original trip. Some other long-term effects of hallucinogens may be damaging to memory and concentration. Using hallucinogens may increase the risk of mental problems in some people. There is little evidence that dependence or withdrawal syndromes and dependency exist for hallucinogens. In general, hallucinations intensify whatever mood the user is in when the drug is taken. If the user is feeling pleasant, the drug usually will heighten that feeling.
This makes it virtually impossible for the hallucinogen-influenced person to function in the real world. One LSD user was killed when he attempted to stop a train bare handed. The extreme panic and agitation of a bad trip have been known to lead to suicide or to accidental deaths as users have tried to flee from their hallucinations. Using, keeping, selling or giving hallucinogens to someone else is illegal. If you are caught you could get penalties starting from a $2,200 fine and/or two years in jail to a $550,000 fine and/or jail for life.
Because hallucinogens change the way you see, hear, touch and experience other sensations, it is very dangerous to drive when you are under the influence of the drug. It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, including hallucinogens. Penalties include losing your license, a fine and/or jail. Hallucinogenic drugs are available in many forms. Their effects can be positive or negative. Even with the stiff legal penalties hallucinogenic drugs continue to be present and people experiment with them.