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Hallucinogens are a large group of drugs that alter perception, thoughts, and feelings. The experience may include awareness of surrounding objects and conditions. The group of drugs can cause hallucinations or sensations and images that seem real though they are not.

Several plants, mushrooms or their extracts may contain hallucinogens properties. Human-made hallucinogens drugs are quite common in the market as well. For centuries, people used this group of drugs for religious ceremonies.

The medical community classified other drugs as hallucinogens because they can alter reality. They contain properties that change the user’s perception of reality including their thoughts, and feelings.

Here are some of the drugs that fall under this category:

  • Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a concoction drink made up of several plants from the Amazon. Street names of this drug include Hoasca, Aya, and Yagé.

  • DMT

Like ayahuasca, DMT is a chemical found in Amazonian plants. It comes as a white powdery substance and referred to as Dimitri in the black market.

  • D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)

LSD is one of the most potent mood-altering chemicals. The drug is a white odorless substance made from lysergic acid. Commonly found in a fungus that grows on grains and rye. Some of the street names of LSD include Acid, Dots, and Yellow Sunshine.

  • Peyote (Mescaline)

Peyote is a spineless cactus that contains mescaline in its main chemical component. Users often called the drug as Buttons, Cactus, and Mesc.

  • 4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (psilocybin)

Psilocybin originates from mushrooms found in tropical and subtropical areas of Mexico, South America, and the US. Users call them Magic Mushrooms, Smoke and Purple Passion.

There are certain kinds of hallucinogens that do not only provide its users a typical escape from reality. However, it somewhat gives users the feeling that they are going out of their body. These drugs include:

  • Dextromethorphan (DXM

  • Ketamine

  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

  • Salvia divinorum (salvia)

Some of the street names of Hallucinogens include:

  • acid
  • 100s
  • Aeon Flux
  • beans
  • barrels
  • big D
  • beast
  • crackers
  • cupcakes
  • dots
  • domes
  • lens
  • mesc
  • Mexican mushrooms
  • moon
  • nubs
  • orange haze
  • pellets
  • potato
  • tabs
  • zen

Experts claimed that the drugs work in temporarily disrupting communications. It partially blocks the chemical system that goes through in the brain and spinal cord.  Some hallucinogens interfere with the action of the brain chemical serotonin. The chemical regulates several main functions of the body such as:

  • our mood
  • sensory perception
  • sleep patterns
  • hunger
  • body temperature
  • sexual behavior
  • even muscle control

Side Effects of the Drug

The short-term 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.”

There is little known about the long-term effects of hallucinogens. However, researchers found out that ketamine user may develop the following life-threatening diseases, such as:

  • ulcers in the bladder
  • kidney problems
  • poor memory


Prolonged use of PCP can result in long-term effects. Users may still feel the effects for a year or more after they stop.  This drug is highly addictive and users of PCP may experience the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Feeling intense worriedness
  • Numbness
  • Problems concentrating on a particular action
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Odd behaviors
  • Erratic mood changes
  • Euphoria feeling
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Raised heart rate
  • Misperceptions of abilities including like strength and speed
  • Breathing problems
  • Elevated body temperature

The effects of PCP can mimic schizophrenia. It can cause delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and impaired thinking. Even a year after stopping PCP, former users can continue to struggle with:

  • memory loss
  • difficulties in speaking and thinking
  • weight loss
  • depression

On the other hand, PCP is a hallucinogen that can be addictive. PCP users who end their addiction may experience headaches, drug cravings, and sweating. These may include several symptoms seen in withdrawal from the drug.  Repeated use can lead to overdoses which lead to seizures, coma, and death, especially if combined with other drugs or prescription medications.  Scientists need more research into the tolerance or addiction potential of hallucinogens.

Studies show that several hallucinogens contain addictive properties and users may develop 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 doesn’t cause uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior. But the drug can produce tolerance. Some users who take the drug constantly must take higher doses to get the same ‘high’ effect. This is an extremely dangerous behavior, given the unpredictability of the drug. Also, LSD builds a tolerance to other hallucinogens, like psilocybin.

Some of the side effects of LSD include:

  • fever
  • Sense of euphoria or certainty
  • Distortion perception of time and identity
  • increased blood pressure
  • tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating or chills
  • Sleeplessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fear of losing control
  • Panic attacks
  • Delusions
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Loss of appetite
  • Impaired depth perception
  • Severe, terrible thoughts and feelings
  • Flashbacks
  • Severe depression

Unfortunately, there are no government-approved medications to treat addiction to hallucinogens. While inpatient and/or behavioral treatments can be helpful for patients with a variety of addictions, scientists need more research to find out if behavioral therapies are effective for addiction to hallucinogens.

All hallucinogens contain properties that trigger “flashbacks,” where users will suddenly re-experience using those drugs, sometimes many years later. This can be frightening and debilitating. These drugs can cause panic attacks and psychotic episodes when used. The way that hallucinogens warp reality can put users in danger from their surroundings.

One unique danger abusers of psilocybin mushrooms face is accidentally taking poisonous mushrooms, which can be deadly. Peyote can cause fetal abnormalities in pregnant women.

As with any toxic ingestion, proper attention first should be directed to the assessment and stabilization of the patient’s airway, breathing, and circulation.

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