What Are Hallucinogens?

A hallucinogen is a psychoactive agent which can cause hallucinations, perceptual anomalies, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness. The common types of hallucinogens are psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants. Hallucinogens alter perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions), thoughts, and feelings. They cause hallucinations, or sensations and images that seem real though they are not. Hallucinogens can be found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) or can be human-made. People have used hallucinogens for centuries, mostly for religious rituals.

Examples of Hallucinogens

Common hallucinogens include the following:

  • Ayahuasca
  • DMT (Dimitri)
  • D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Peyote (mescaline)
  • 4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (psilocybin)
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)
  • Ketamine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Salvia divinorum (salvia)

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

The effects of hallucinogens can begin within 20 to 90 minutes and can last as long as 6 to 12 hours. Salvia’s effects are more short-lived, appearing in less than 1 minute and lasting less than 30 minutes. Hallucinogen users refer to the experiences brought on by these drugs as “trips,” calling the unpleasant experiences “bad trips.” Along with hallucinations, other short-term general effects include: increased heart rate, nausea, intensified feelings and sensory experiences, changes in sense of time (for example, time passing by slowly), etc…

Little is known about the long-term effects of hallucinogens. Researchers do know that ketamine users may develop symptoms that include ulcers in the bladder, kidney problems, and poor memory. Repeated use of PCP can result in long-term effects that may continue for a year or more after use stops, such as: speech problems, memory loss, weight loss, anxiety
depression and suicidal thoughts.

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