Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that alter perception, cause visual and auditory hallucinations (i.e., seeing, hearing or feeling things that aren’t real), distorted cognitions, and extreme distortions in a person’s sense of reality.
Naturally found in plants and synthetically produced in illicit laboratories, hallucinogens are used for their ability to alter human mood and perception. They affect the signals of brain chemicals such as serotonin, which plays a key role in sensory perception, sexual behavior, mood regulation, and cognition and muscular control. They are also known as Acid, Blotter, Blotter Acid, Cubes, Doses, Fry, Candy, Mushrooms and Special K.
Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs and some of their common types are:
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
- Peyote (Mescaline)
- Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine)
- Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
- 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA (Ecstacy)
The 2016 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that an estimated 1.4 million people (aged 12 or above) used hallucinogens, while nearly 1,14,000 adolescents (aged 12 to 17) were reported to be current users.
Signs of hallucinogen abuse
Considering that hallucinogens belong to a disparate group of drugs, their effects are surprisingly uniform. Abusing these drugs can cause some serious physical and psychological effects.
Here are some common effects:
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and dizziness
- Sweating and elevated heart rate
- Shaking and impaired coordination
- Hyperthermia and dehydration
- Visual, auditory and tactile distortions and hallucinations
- Altered perception of time and space
- Profound spiritual experiences
- Mood swings, paranoia, fear, anxiety and panic attacks