What are hallucinogens?
These drugs change or distort the way a person sees or experiences things, but they do not cause true hallucinations. A hallucination has no basis in reality even though it will seem real to the person having it. Hallucinogens are sometimes called psychedelics.
There are two types of hallucinogens
- Natural hallucinogens - from plants or fungi
- peyote cactus (mescaline)
- magic mushrooms (psilocybin)
- cannabis (at high doses)
- Man-made hallucinogens
- acid (LSD)
- angel dust
- laughing gas
- ecstasy (at high doses)
The peyote cactus and magic mushrooms may look like dried food. Acid often comes on small squares of paper (often with cartoon type characters on it). Ecstasy is often in pill form.
The effect of hallucinogens depends on what the user expects to happen and on past experience with the drug. It also depends on how much the person uses and the environment they are in. People use these drugs in different ways. They may be snorted, injected, smoked, swallowed, rubbed on gums or other mucous membranes, or cooked in foods.
What are the effects of hallucinogens?
- muscle weakness
- hard to control muscles and possible loss of movement
- problems with coordination
- numbness, loss of feeling in parts of the body
- enlarged pupils
- higher or lower hear rate, blood pressure and temperature
- possible loss of consciousness
- may not feel pain
- sight, hearing, taste and touch may be distorted, which can be positive or negative (a "bad trip")
- people can experience an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature
- possible feelings of anxiety or depression, especially if the user experienced a "bad trip"
- flashbacks or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (although these are rare)
- my trigger or worsen mental health challenges
- may cause problems with memory or concentration
- might have some positive effects (for example helping people eating with posttraumatic stress disorder)
- speech problems
- persistent psychosis (visual disturbances, paranoia)
- suicidal thoughts
Hallucinogens can be physically addictive so there are physical withdrawal effects that come with increased tolerance. These include:
- muscle spasms
- loss of coordination
- aggressive, hostile or violent behaviour
- high blood pressure
- rapid heart rate
- hyperthermia or high body temperature