Commonly Abused Hallucinogens
One of the most powerful synthesized hallucinogens available is LSD. Also called “acid,” the drug ranges from a white or clear crystalline substance to tan or black, depending on its purity and adulterants. LSD is usually crushed into a fine powder and pressed into tablets or placed on small squares of gelatin, referred to as window panes. It’s also dissolved into a solution known as blotter acid and soaked into tiny paper squares. Its effects include:
- Synesthesia (a sensory phenomenon where people can see smells or hear colors)
- Altered perception of time and space
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
Psilocybin and Mescaline — the chief psychoactive constituents in psychedelic mushrooms and peyote, respectively — produce comparable hallucinogenic effects to LSD. Psilocybin is most commonly ingested in dried mushrooms or ground into a powder or pill form. The effects of psilocybin typically begin within an hour and can last up to six hours. Mescaline is usually ingested in the form of dried slices of peyote cacti or in pill form.
The differences between psilocybin and mescaline come down to variations in the types of hallucinations they induce. The hallucinations warp images, colors or movement of objects that can cause nausea, anxiety and panic attacks in teens and inexperienced users.
DMT and Ayahuasca are both powerful hallucinogenic chemicals found in Amazonian plant species in South America. DMT, also known as Dimitri, is a psychedelic tryptamine that can be synthesized into a white crystalline powder that is smoked in a pipe or vaporized by users. The effects of smoking DMT produce short-lived intense visual effects, and users report spiritual experiences.
DMT is the main psychoactive ingredient in Ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew that is also known as Aya, Yagé, Brew and Huasca. Ayahuasca has much longer-lasting effects than DMT, with the strongest effects lasting anywhere from two to six hours. Extreme spiritual experiences, visions, altered states of consciousness and hallucinations have been reported by users.
While hallucinogens generally have a low level of toxicity, people can have “bad trips,” in which they might commit suicide or have other fatal misadventures. Some types of hallucinogens, such as Ayahuasca, can have potentially fatal side effects if taken with certain prescription drugs. Although death due to hallucinogens overdose is rare due to their low toxicity, hallucinogens overdose can cause:
- Depressed breathing
- Heart attack