Hallucinogens are drugs or psychedelics that affect a person’s perceptions, sensations, thinking, self-awareness, and emotions. Hallucinogens include such drugs as LSD, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, and DMT. Some hallucinogens come from natural sources, such as mescaline from the peyote cactus. Others, such as LSD, are synthetic or manufactured. PCP (phencyclidine) is sometimes considered a hallucinogen because it has some of the same effects. However, it does not fit easily into any one-drug category because it also can relieve pain or act as a stimulant.
What exactly is LSD?
LSD is manufactured from lysergic acid diethylamide, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains or lysergic acid amide, which is a chemical, found in morning glory seeds. LSD was discovered in 1938 and is one of the most potent mind-altering chemicals. It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. LSD is sold on the street in tablets, capsules, or in liquid form. It is usually taken by mouth but is sometimes injected. It can be ingested in almost any absorbent material or anything that can be swallowed. There are some tattoos, stickers, and stamps being sold to school children that are soaked with LSD. One microscopic drop is put on absorbent paper, such as blotter paper, and divided into small decorated squares, with each square representing one dose. The LSD can be absorbed through the skin simply by handling the paper (some stickers and tattoos have been found laced with strychnine as well). LSD was once popular in the 60’s and is making it’s way back again. Only an incredibly small dosage is needed for a “trip.”
What is a “bad trip”?
LSD “trip” can last from 2 to 12 hours. During this “trip,” judgment is impaired, vision is distorted, and the user may have hallucinations.
Having a bad psychological reaction to LSD and similar drugs is common. The scary sensations may last a few minutes or several hours and be mildly frightening or terrifying. The user may experience panic, confusion, suspiciousness, anxiety, feeling of helplessness, and loss of control. Sometimes taking a hallucinogen such as LSD can unmask mental or emotional problems that were previously unknown to the user. Flashbacks, in which the person experiences a drug’s effect without having to take the drug again, can occur years after the user has quit taking the drug.
What are the other forms of hallucinogens?
· Mescaline comes from the fleshy parts or “buttons” of the peyote cactus and although it is not as strong as LSD, its effects are similar. Mescaline is usually smoked or swallowed in the form of capsules or tablets.
· Psilocybin comes from certain mushrooms. It is sold in tablet or capsule form so people can swallow it. The mushrooms, themselves, fresh or dried, may also be eaten as a way of consuming the drug. Psilocybin can now be synthetically produced.
· DMT is another psychedelic drug that acts like LSD. Its effects begin almost immediately and last for 30-60 minutes.
What are the effects of psychedelics like LSD?
The effects of psychedelics are unpredictable. It depends on the amount taken, the user’s personality, mood, and expectations, and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30-90 minutes after taking it. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. Sensations and feelings change too. The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. The person’s sense of time and self-change. All of these changes can be frightening and can cause panic.
How is PCP different from other hallucinogens?
PCP, (phencyclidine) is most often called “angel dust.” It is considered a hallucinogen but is somewhat different because it also can relieve pain or act as a stimulant.
It was first developed as an animal anesthetic in the 1950’s. However, it was taken off the market for human use because of its hallucinogenic effects. PCP is available in a number of forms. It can be a pure, white crystal-like powder, or a tablet or capsule. It can be swallowed, smoked, sniffed, or injected. PCP is sometimes sprinkled on marijuana or parsley and smoked. Although PCP is illegal, it is easily manufactured. It is often sold as mescaline, THC, or other drugs. Sometimes it may not even be PCP, but a lethal by-product of the drug. Users can never be sure what they are buying since it is manufactured illegally.
Why is PCP so dangerous?
PCP can produce violent or bizarre behavior in people who are not normally that way. This behavior can lead to death from drowning, burns, falls from high places, and automobile accidents. Use the colored diagram above to see which areas of the brain PCP affects.
Regular PCP use affects:
· Memory (Red area)
· Perception (Red and green areas)
· Concentration, (Red area)
· Judgment (Red area)
Users may show signs of:
· Fearfulness, and
During these times, some users may become aggressive while others may withdraw and have difficulty communicating. A temporary mental disturbance, or a disturbance of the user’s thought processes (a PCP psychosis), may last for days or weeks.
Long-term PCP users report:
· Memory and speech difficulties, (Red and blue areas) as well as
· Hearing voices or sounds, which do not exist.
Users find it difficult to describe and predict the effects the drug will have. For some users, PCP changes how users see their own bodies and things around them. Speech, muscle coordination, and vision are affected and body movements (Red, blue, and green areas) are slowed. Users tend to lose track of time and space and their senses of touch and pain (Yellow area) are dulled. So, if someone you know is on PCP, they should be closely supervised so they don’t harm themselves or others.