Hallucinogens: Types, Identification, Side Effects & Addiction
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When people think of getting a high that causes a trip, they often think of hallucinogens. This class of drug is very broad and contains many substances. Although most hallucinogens are illegal, some are not only legal but are widely available. They come in many forms and because they are so diverse and they can last different amounts of time in the body. Understanding hallucinogens is very important if you or a loved one struggle with these drugs and addiction.
What Are Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that can change perception. Doctors are not sure of the exact changes to the brain they impact to alter perception. They change the way a person senses timing, movement, colors, sounds and themselves.
What Are Dissociatives?
Dissociative drugs are a type of hallucinogen. Like other hallucinogens, doctors are not sure how they achieve their effects. Besides causing hallucinations, they cause dissociation. This means that they make a person feel disconnected from themselves. Dissociative drugs can make a person feel out of control and disconnected from their body or outside environment.
Types of Hallucinogens
D-lysergic Acid Diethylamide, or LSD
This drug is a Schedule I controlled substance.
Ecstasy, or MDMA
This drug is a manmade Schedule I controlled substance.
Psilocybin, or 4-Phosphoryloxy-N, N-Dimethyltryptamine
This drug is a Schedule I controlled substance from mushrooms in the United
States, Mexico, and South America.
Peyote, or Mescaline
This drug is Schedule I controlled substance. It comes from the peyote cactus
that has mescaline as the main ingredient. However, peyote can also be synthetic.
DMT, or N, N-Dimethyltryptamine
This substance is a Schedule I controlled substance. It is naturally found in some
plants but can also be man-made.
This man-made drug is a Schedule I controlled substance.
Hallucinogens that can cause dissociation include:
Phencyclidine, or PCP
This drug is a Schedule I controlled substance that was originally used for
This drug is a Schedule III controlled substance that is sometimes used in both
humans and animals.
This drug is available over the counter in many cough and cold medicines. It is not
a controlled substance.
Salvia, or Salvia Divinorum
Although salvia iS not a controlled substance, it has been banned in some in states.
Hallucinogens are a common drug class, with almost 16% of people aged 12 and older having tried hallucinogens at least once as of 2018. The chance of hallucinogen use increases as people get older. While only around 2% of children aged 12 to 17 have tried a hallucinogen, that number jumps to more than 16% of those between 18 to 25 and more than 17% of people aged 26 and older. Although researchers have not investigated the popularity of all hallucinogens, LSD appears to be one of the more popular ones. About 10% of people aged 12 and older have tried LSD. Meanwhile, only around 2% of people aged 12 and older have tried PCP.
Are Hallucinogens Legal?
The legal status of hallucinogens depends on the substance. Many hallucinogens are Schedule I controlled substances. Others, like salvia, may be legal in some states but not in others. However, other substances that can be hallucinogens at high doses, like dextromethorphan, are widely available over the counter. Furthermore, substances like ayahuasca tea, which contains the Schedule I controlled substance DMT, is only legal if used for religious or spiritual purposes.
What Do Hallucinogens Look Like?
Hallucinogens come in many different forms. Therefore, what the drug looks like depends on the substance:
This drug is a white or clear substance that is often put on a piece of paper that is
then put in the mouth.
Ecstasy, or MDMA
This drug comes as tablets that are swallowed but can also be crushed, snorted
This substance comes as whole mushrooms that are usually taken by mouth
directly or in teas.
Peyote, or Mescaline
This drug often comes as a disc-shaped cactus portion that has been cut off. It
can then be made into a liquid or smoked. However, it can also be ground into a
powder that can be swallowed.
This drug comes as plants which are brewed in a tea called ayahuasca. However,
it can also be man-made and taken a as a white powder which is smoked.
This drug often comes as a liquid or powder which can be taken by mouth,
snorted or injected.
iS This drug is most commonly used in liquid or powder form but can also be found
in tablets or capsules.
This drug is most commonly available as powder or pills, but it can also be found
as a liquid for injection.
This drug is commonly sold as a liquid syrup, tablets and gel capsules.
This drug is a plant from Central and South America. It is misused by chewing
fresh leaves or drinking tea from them. The leaves can also be dried and smoked.
Hallucinogens Street Names
Hallucinogens have many street names. While some refer to specific drugs, others refer to the drug class as a whole. Examples of these street names include cubes, doses, fry and mind candy.
Street names for specific hallucinogens include:
Angel Dust, Hog, Love Boat, Peace Pill
Cat Tranquilizer, Cat Valium, Jet K, Kit Kat, Purple, Special K, Special La Coke,
Super Acid, Super K, Vitamin K
Diviner’s Sage, Maria Pastora, Sally-D, Magic Mint
Acid, Blotter Acid, Dots, Mellow Yellow, Window Pane
Little Smoke, Magic Mushrooms, Shrooms
Buttons, Cactus, Mesc, Peyoto
Dimitri, 45-Minute Psychosis, Fantasia, Businessman’s Special, Businessman’s
Trip, Businessman’s Lunch
N Bomb, 251
Adam, Beans, Clarity, Disco Biscuit, E, Ecstasy, Eve, Go, Hug Drug, Lover’s Speed,
MDMA, Peace, STP, X, XTC
Hallucinogens can cause effects both on the body and on the mind. Some of the psychological effects include changes in perception while high and flashbacks that can occur months or years after taking the drug.
Physical effects can include:
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Wide pupils
How Long Do Hallucinogens Stay in Your System?
Because so many different types of hallucinogens exist, they can stay in your body for vastly different lengths of time. For example, a high from 251-NBOMe can last up to 10 hours and can have after-effects that last for up to a week. Because the drug has not been tested in humans, it is unclear how long it would show up in any tests. Meanwhile, the short duration of a high from DMT is reflected in one of its street names, 45-Minute Psychosis, and the drug is cleared from the blood within 15 minutes.
Further, both the route the drug is being taken as well as the dose may impact how long it takes for your body to get rid of it. In addition, some drugs may show up in certain tests, like hair tests, for far longer than they show up in the blood. How long hallucinogens stay in the body depends, therefore, on:
- The drug
- The dose
- The route
- What is being tested
Are Hallucinogens Addictive?
Because doctors are not sure which brain chemicals some hallucinogens impact, it is unclear whether most are addictive. Addiction has a close relationship with both tolerance, or needing higher doses of a drug to get the same effect as before, as well as with physical dependence, or going into withdrawal when the drug stops being taken. Tolerance is linked to most hallucinogens. However, physical dependence is not. However, not all hallucinogens have been extensively studied. Therefore, more research needs to be done to say for sure whether some can be addictive or not.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs.” February 2015. Accessed October 27, 2019.
U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drugs of Abuse.” 2017. Accessed October 27, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Hallucinogens.” Accessed October 27, 2019.
Davis, Kathleen. “Everything You Need to Know about DMT.” Medical News Today, March 24, 2017. Accessed October 27, 2019.
World Health Organization. “251-NBOMe.” June 16-20, 2014. Accessed October 27, 2019.
Vitale, Arturo A. “In Vivo Long-Term Kinetics of Radiolabeled N,N-Dimethyltryptamine and Tryptamine.” Journal of Nuclear Medicine, June 1, 2011. Accessed October 27, 2019.
Rose, Nick. “America Is Getting Its First Legal Ayahuasca Church.” Vice, December 11, 2015. Accessed October 27, 2019.