Hallucinogens: Psylocybin, Mushrooms, and LSD

Hallucinogens: Psylocybin, Mushrooms, and LSD

Hallucinogens are powerful drugs that induce a mind-altering state of consciousness in the user. Wildly popular in the 1970s following Dr. Timothy Leary’s Harvard experiments during the 1960s, hallucinogens crop up frequently in the rave and all-night dance scene and clubs of today.

The 2008 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), released early this year by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America points out that lifetime use of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), ketamine, and GHB remained stable in 2008. Some 7 percent of those surveyed reported ever having used LSD, versus 5 percent for ketamine. In actual numbers, this translates to 1.6 million teens who had tried LSD and 1.2 million for ketamine.

More troubling in the PATS study is the perception among 61 percent of teens surveyed that prescription drugs are easier to get than illegal drugs.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in a recent research report, “Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs,” states that use of LSD and hallucinogenic drugs has decreased among secondary students since 1998, but that ketamine and LSD are increasing in popularity among older teens and young adults at dance clubs and all-night raves.

In the first clinical trials of hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs since the 1970s, Swiss scientists are treating terminally ill patients in an attempt to help them deal with their impending death and improve their remaining quality of life. In another recently-completed clinical trial conducted by scientists at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, psilocybin was used to help terminally-ill cancer patients come to terms with their illness.

What Hallucinogens Are

Hallucinogens are powerful, mind-altering substances. These include LSD, psilocybin (in certain types of mushrooms), mescaline (in the peyote cactus), and ibogaine. Hallucinogens cause hallucinations in users– that is, people see and hear things that aren’t there, or feel sensations that don’t exist, feel a distorted sense of reality, and powerful mood swings. LSD is the drug that most people identify with a hallucinogen.

Common Street Names

On the street, you’ll hear names for LSD like acid, back breaker, battery acid, blotter, blotter acid, boomers, doses, dots, Elvis, loony tunes, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, microdots, pane, paper acid, sugar, sugar cubes, superman, trip, window glass, window pane, yellow sunshine, yellow stars and Zen.

Street names for psilocybin include blue meanies, goldens, liberty caps, magic mushrooms, magics, mushies, ‘shrooms, and liberty caps.

Mescaline carries names on the street such as buttons, cactus, cactus buttons, cactus head, chief (a mixture of LSD and mescaline), love flipping (combining mescaline and MDMA), love trip, mesc, mescal, meze, mezc, moon, peyote, snackies (MDMA with mescaline), and topi.

How to Identify Hallucinogens

LSD is typically sold as a liquid that is often packaged in small bottles originally designed to hold breath freshening drops. The liquid LSD is applied to tablets, squares of gelatin, sugar cubes or blotter paper.

Psilocybin can appear as dried mushrooms or crushed into a powder in capsules. There’s also synthetically-made psilocybin that’s a white crystalline powder placed into capsules, tablets or liquid.

At its most pure, mescaline appears as a white crystalline powder. It’s also made synthetically and used in various colors of capsules and pills.

How Hallucinogens Are Used

LSD is usually taken orally, and has a slightly bitter taste. It can be swallowed, sniffed, injected and snorted, and even rubbed on the skin in liquid form.

Psilocybin (magic mushrooms) can be eaten raw, used in various food recipes and even brewed into tea.

Mescaline is usually swallowed, although it is also chewed or smoked.

Effects of Hallucinogens

According to the NIDA, hallucinogens effects are caused by the disruption of the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The serotonin system, distributed throughout the spinal column and brain, acts to control the behavioral, regulatory and perceptual systems in the body. These include sensory perception, body temperature, hunger, mood, muscle control, and sexual behavior.

The effects of hallucinogens vary by user, their tolerance for the drug, and amount ingested. People take them in a deliberate attempt to feel euphoric, to relax, and feel happiness and satisfaction, to get away from their problems, to have a heightened sense of awareness and perception. But there are many unwanted side-effects as well. Some users of LSD, for example, report being terrified, experience a fear of losing control, going insane or dying. Other LSD users feel a profound sense of despair.

Why Hallucinogens Are Bad for You

Prolonged and repeated use of hallucinogens can result in numerous consequences, some of which are potentially fatal:

• Agitation and anxiety

• Dizziness

• Impaired coordination

• Increased body temperature, sweating that can lead to chills

• Increased blood pressure

• Increased rapid heart beat

• Increased blood pressure

• Fatal accidents while under the influence of the drug, particularly LSD

• Flashbacks – particularly with LSD use, which can occur long after the drug is ingested

• Longstanding psychoses – particularly schizophrenia or severe bouts of depression

• Nausea and vomiting

• Panic attacks, paranoia

• Thoughts of suicide or attempts to commit suicide

Are Hallucinogens Addicting?

LSD, psilocybin and mescaline are not considered to be addictive, but users can develop a tolerance for them, thus requiring more frequent and larger doses to achieve the same high. They also do not produce the same drug-seeking behavior in abusers as methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), LSD is also illegal, and is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Psilocybin and mescaline are also Schedule I substances and, therefore, illegal in the U.S.

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