Hallucinogenic Drugs - Drug Addiction
This is the name given to a group of drugs which affect the senses. They are often known as ‘psychedelic’ drugs and have the means to affect our perception of the world around us.
Hallucinogens affect all of the senses in various ways. They can confuse the senses or change them in some way so that things become more intense, for example, seeing colours much more brightly. In some cases people find that they can ‘hear’ colours and ‘see’ sounds.
As well as affecting the senses they also alter a person’s mood, thoughts and behaviour.
These drugs were very popular in as part of 1960’s hippie culture. For many people there remains an image of these drugs along with Woodstock, flower power, free love and expression.
What drugs does this group include?
- Magic Mushrooms
They also include ecstasy, cannabis especially the stronger varieties such as skunk and ketamine.
Some of these drugs are derived naturally from plants, for example cannabis and magic mushrooms whereas others are produced artificially in laboratories. They include ketamine and ecstasy.
What are their street names?
These include any of the following:
- Special K
- Angel dust
- Northern lights
How are hallucinogens used?
LSD comes as small squares of blotting paper or a sheet of small designs which the user drops onto their tongue. It can also be dropped onto a sugar cube or used to produce capsules or tablets. Taking it results in altered perception and a feeling of being ‘out of one’s body’.
LSD stands for Lysergic acid diethylamide.
PCP or ‘angel dust’ is available in a variety of forms which include powder, tablets, liquid or crystals. It can be inhaled (snorted), smoked via a cigarette, taken orally or injected.
Magic mushrooms are a wild form of fungus which grows in the UK and other parts of the world. The most common form is the ‘liberty cap’ although the ‘fly agaric’ variety is also used. They can be eaten raw although many people prefer to add them to food or make them into a drink.
Mescaline is a more unusual form of hallucinogen which comes from a cactus plant. Not usually available in the UK.
DMT stands for ‘dimethyltriptamine’ and is very similar to LSD. It is more powerful than LSD though. It can be inhaled (snorted), smoked or injected and is less easy to get hold of than LSD.
Ecstasy is available as tablets, capsules or a powder and is popular with clubbers as it enables them to dance for hours. It enhances feelings of intimacy and closeness and is known as the ‘love drug’.
Find out more in our ecstasy section.
Cannabis can be smoked or added to food e.g. ‘hash cakes’ and is taken as a means of relaxation although stronger varieties such as sinsemilla and skunk can cause mild hallucinations.
Find out more in our cannabis section.
Ketamine is an anaesthetic drug originally designed for veterinary purposes but has been used by people for its hallucinogenic qualities. It acts in a very similar way to PCP and taken orally, as tablets or injected.
Find out more in our ketamine section.
Who uses hallucinogenic drugs?
These have been used since time began but became very popular with young people during the 1960’s and 70’s. Their popularity died down a bit after then but then reappeared during the House music scene of the late 1980’s and 90’s.
What are the effects of hallucinogenic drugs?
The most obvious one is that of altered perception: this is where people report mind-altering effects in that they see, hear, smell or touch things which they think are there but in reality, don’t exist. These effects vary according to the substance taken, the amount taken, how often, the environment, age and whether it is taken in combination with other drugs e.g. alcohol.
Some people experience greater effects than others. One person may only have a mild experience which can be highly pleasurable - known as a ‘good trip’ whereas another person can experience a complete ‘out of body’ experience which is terrifying to say the least - known as a ‘bad trip’.
Some of these effects only last for a short time but others can last for many hours.
People who experience altered perception can find themselves engaging in risky or dangerous behaviour, for example believing that they are able to fly. It is not unknown for someone to jump from a great height because of a psychedelic experience.
Are hallucinogenic drugs addictive?
They tend to be used on an irregular basis only so addiction doesn’t occur but a tolerance can build up if the drug is used on a regular basis, for example cannabis or ecstasy.
These drugs have a strong psychological effect which often involves a change in the brain’s chemistry and structure which results in dependence.
People also find that they experience some rather unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they stop which results in them continuing to take these drugs.
Other side effects include anxiety and depression and an unpleasant condition called ‘flashbacks’: this is where someone sees replays of their drug experience, weeks, months or even years after they took the drug.
Guide to Drug Addiction
- Drug Addiction Guide
- About Drug Addiction
- What is addiction
- What causes an addiction
- Addictive personality
- Drug addiction myths
- Genetics and addiction
- Signs of an addiction
- Risk factors for drug addiction
- Stress and addiction
- Social use of drugs
- What is pseudo-addiction
- Am I Addicted to drugs
- Social effects of drug addiction
- Drug addiction and crime
- Types of addictions
- Alcohol addiction
- Caffeine addiction
- Anabolic steroids
- Hallucinogenic drugs
- Legal high drugs
- Prescription drugs
- Young people and addictions
- Treating addiction
- Assessing drug addiction
- Medical help
- Addiction support
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Relapse prevention
- Self help