Overview of Hallucinogens & Dissociative Drugs
Synopsis: Information regarding Hallucinogens, a class of drug that causes hallucinations and distortions of perception of reality.1
Author: Thomas C. Weiss Contact: Disabled World
'Hallucinogens,' are a class of drugs that cause hallucinations, profound distortions in an individual's perceptions of reality. Hallucinogens can be found in some mushrooms and plants or their extracts, or can be man-made and are usually divided into a couple of broad categories - classic hallucinogens like LSD and dissociative drugs such as PCP. When a person is under the influence of either of these types of drugs they often times report intense, rapid emotional swings, hearing sounds, seeing images and feeling sensations that appear to be real when they are not.
A hallucinogen is defined as a psychoactive agent which can cause hallucinations, perception anomalies, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness. The common types of hallucinogens are psychedelics, dissociatives, or deliriants. Hallucinations are not an uncommon symptom of amphetamine psychosis, but they are not a primary effect of the drugs themselves. Hallucinogens can be found in some mushrooms and plants or their extracts, or can be man-made and are usually divided into a couple of broad categories - classic hallucinogens like D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and dissociative drugs such as Phencyclidine (PCP).
Although the precise mechanisms by which hallucinogens and dissociative drugs cause their effects are not completely understood, research suggests that they work at least in part by temporarily disrupting communication between neurotransmitter systems throughout the spinal cord and brain that regulate:
- Muscle control
- Sexual behavior
- Body temperature
- Sensory perception
D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as blotter, acid, microdots, hits, trips, sugar cubes, tabs or window panes is one of the most potent mood and perception altering hallucinogenic drugs. LSD is a white or clear, odorless and water-soluble material synthesized from lysergic acid, which is a compound derived from a rye fungus. LSD is initially produced in crystalline form and may then be used to produce tables known as, 'microdots,' or thin squares of gelatin called, 'window panes.' The drug may also be diluted with alcohol or water and sold as a liquid. The most common form is LSD-soaked paper punched into small individual squares called, 'blotters.' Other classic hallucinogens include the following.
Dimelthyltryptamine or, 'DMT': DMT is also referred to as, 'Dimitri,' and is a strong hallucinogenic chemical found naturally in some Amazonian plant species; it may also be synthesized in a lab. Synthetic DMT usually takes the form of a white crystalline powder and is smoked in a pipe or vaporized.
Ayahuasca: Ayahuasca is also referred to as aya, hoasca or yage. It is a hallucinogenic brew made from one of several Amazonian plants containing DMT along with a vine containing a natural alkaloid that prevents the usual breakdown of DMT in a person's digestive tract. Ayahuasca tea has been used traditionally for religious and healing purposes in indigenous South American cultures, largely in the Amazon region.
Psilocybin: Also referred to as shrooms, magic mushrooms, little smoke or boomers, it is extracted from certain types of mushrooms found in subtropical and tropical regions of Mexico, Central America and South America - as well as in the United States. In history, psilocybin was ingested during religious ceremonies by indigenous cultures from Central America and Mexico. Psilocybin may be fresh and eaten raw, dried, brewed into tea, or mixed with food; it produces similar effects to LSD.
Peyote or, 'Mescaline': Peyote is also known as cactus, buttons and mesc. It is a small and spineless cactus with mescaline as its main ingredient. The drug has been used by natives in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico as a part of religious ceremonies. The top or, 'crown,' of the peyote cactus has disc-shaped buttons that are cut out and then dried and then soaked in water to produce an intoxicating liquid, or chewed. Due to the fact that the extract is so bitter, some people prepare a tea by boiling the plant for a number of hours. Mescaline may also be produced via chemical synthesis.
Phencyclidine or PCP is known by names such as rocket fuel, ozone, hog, love boat, superweed or embalming fluid. PCP was originally developed in the 1950's as a general anesthetic for surgeries. Even though it may be found in a number of forms, to include capsules and tablets, it is usually sold as a powder or liquid. PCP can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected. PCP is sometimes smoked after being sprinkled on tobacco, marijuana, or parsley. Other dissociative drugs include the following.
Salvia Divinorum: Also known as Maria Pastora, Sally-D, diviner's sage or magic mint, salvia divinorum is a psychoactive plant common to South America, Central America and Mexico. Salvia is usually ingested by chewing fresh leaves, or by drinking juices that have been extracted. The dried leaves of salvia may also be vaporized or smoked and inhaled.
Ketamine: Ketamine is also known as Special K, K, or cat Valium. It is a dissociative currently used as an anesthetic for people and animals. Much of the ketamine sold on the street has been diverted from veterinary offices. While it is manufactured as an injectable liquid, ketamine is usually evaporated to form a powder that is compressed into pills or snorted. Due to the fact that ketamine is tasteless and odorless and has amnesia-inducing properties, the drug is at times used to pursue sexual assault by adding it to drinks.
Dextromethorphan or DXM: DXM is also known as robo and is a cough suppressant and expectorant ingredient in some over-the-counter cough and cold medicines that are often abused by adolescents and young adults. The most common sources of abused DXM are, 'extra-strength,' cough syrups that usually contain around 15 milligrams of DXM per teaspoon, as well as gel capsules and pills containing 15 milligrams of DXM per pill. Over-the-counter medications that contain DXM may also contain decongestants and antihistamines.
Abuse of Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs
The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health states that 229,000 Americans age 12 and older reported using LSD in the past month; 33,000 reported currently using PCP. Among high school seniors, salvia was notably more popular than either PCP or LSD when it was added to the, 'Monitoring the Future,' survey of 2009. Past-year use was reported to be:
- 2.7% for LSD
- 1.3% for PCP
- 5.9% for salvia
Rates have dropped significantly for salvia, with LSD and PCP use dropping somewhat. Although regular use of hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs in general has remained fairly low in recent years, one study found that the United States ranks #1 among 36 nations in the numbers of high school students ever using LSD or other types of hallucinogens in their lifetime.
In addition, tourism to the Amazon for the purpose of using ayahuasca has become more popular among Europeans and Americans. Ayahuasca use has also been reported in major cities in Brazil and abroad. While DMT is a schedule I drug, plants containing DMT are not. Ambiguity exists over ayahuasca's legal status in the United States.
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