Hallucinogens: The Ultimate Escape Drugs

Hallucinogens offer a different kind of experience when it comes to trying different drugs as a young adult. And though they may not be nearly as prominent or used as often, there is still an ever-growing concern among parents and professionals about their use and their reasons for being used.

When it comes to the spectrum of illicit drugs, hallucinogens offer the ultimate escape from reality. Out of body experiences, detachment from the real world and complete synesthesia are common effects that are looked for–if not expected–by users who take these drugs.

My Experience with Hallucinogens


Though hallucinogens were never something I would have considered myself “addicted” to, I definitely remember my time using them and what my state of mind was like. Not every experience I had was good, in fact I was quite scared of the possible outcome which helped me steer clear of them for a period of time. But once I did acquire a taste for them, I knew what they would do for me each and every time I used them. There was a guarantee of complete and utter disassociation from my life and, ultimately, my thoughts, which drove me to abuse drugs in the first place. Hallucinogens provided a sort of haven for escaping the world and they did it very well.

Why Hallucinogens Are Dangerous


A main component of the use of these drugs is the fact that their effects are extremely variable and unreliable, producing different effects for different people at different times. For instance, one user’s experience on a given amount of LSD may be completely different from the next person who took the exact same amount, from the exact same source. Their threshold for erratic and unsolicited behavior varies from people who barely feel anything at all to those who suffer from detrimental long-term effects. Because of their unpredictable nature, the use of hallucinogens can be particularly dangerous.

Types of Hallucinogens


Though the list of every type of hallucinogens is extremely large, the most commonly used categories are peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and PCP. (Information from www.drugabuse.gov)

LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide)

[three_fourths]LSD is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

Effects: The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in large enough doses, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The user’s sense of time and self is altered. Experiences may seem to “cross over” different senses, giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings of despair, fear of losing control, or fear of insanity and death while using LSD.


Peyote is a small, spineless cactus in which the principal active ingredient is mescaline. This plant has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of religious ceremony. Mescaline can also be produced through chemical synthesis.

Effects: The long-term residual psychological and cognitive effects of mescaline, peyote’s principal active ingredient, remain poorly understood. A recent study found no evidence of psychological or cognitive deficits among Native Americans that use peyote regularly in a religious setting. Peyote abusers may also experience flashbacks.[/three_fourths_last]

Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine)


[three_fourths]Psilocybin is obtained from certain types of mushrooms that are indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States. These mushrooms typically contain less than 0.5 percent psilocybin plus trace amounts of psilocin, another hallucinogenic substance.

Effects: The active compounds in psilocybin-containing “magic” mushrooms have LSD-like properties and produce alterations of autonomic function, motor reflexes, behavior, and perception. The psychological consequences of psilocybin use include hallucinations, an altered perception of time, and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose. Long-term effects such as flashbacks, risk of psychiatric illness, impaired memory, and tolerances have been described in case reports.

PCP (phencyclidine)

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PCP was developed in the 1950s as an intravenous anesthetic. Its use has since been discontinued due to serious adverse effects. The use of PCP as an approved anesthetic in humans was discontinued in 1965 because patients often became agitated, delusional, and irrational while recovering from its anesthetic effects.

Effects: PCP is a “dissociative drug,” meaning that it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment (dissociation) from the environment and self. Some abusers continue to use PCP due to the feelings of strength, power, and invulnerability as well as a numbing effect on the mind that PCP can induce.

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