Hallucinogens FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Hallucinogens

Hallucinating Man
Hallucinogens Can Be Unpredictable. © Getty Images

Hallucinogens such as LSD cause emotions to swing wildly and real-world sensations to assume unreal, sometimes frightening aspects. Dissociative drugs like PCP and ketamine may make a user feel disconnected and out of control.

What Are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens refers to a type of drug that causes extreme distortions of the user's perceptions of reality. Either man-made or extracted from natural plants, hallucinogens fall into two types: classic hallucinogens or dissociative drugs.

Both work on the brain to produce images, sounds or sensations that seem to be real, but actually do not exist. Read more...

What Are Dissociative Drugs?

Dissociative drugs are a class of drugs that produce mind-alerting effects for the user. They can change the person's perception of sight and sound and create a feeling of detachment (dissociation) from their surroundings or from their own bodies. Some dissociative drugs were originally developed as anesthetics, while others can be found in common cough and cold remedies. Read more...

Why Do People Take Hallucinogens?

Mankind has used hallucinogens through the centuries in many cultures for religious rituals and spiritual pursuits. Writes and artists have used hallucinogens through the ages to seek inspiration or creativity. In the 1960s and 1970s, many people began using hallucinogens for pure recreational purposes - but not all of their "trips" were happy ones.

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What Are the Effects of Hallucinogens?

The problem with trying to predict the effects of hallucinogens is their effects can be very unpredictable. Take a little too much or a little less and it can completely change how the user will experience the drug. Additionally, the drugs may not always be what they are described to be - containing other substances that can cause a variety of effects.

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What Are the Effects of Dissociative Drugs?

Although different dissociative drugs can produce different effects, most of them work by altering the dopamine system in the brain and disrupting the chemical glutamate throughout the brain, which can affect cognition, emotions and the perception of pain. Dissociative drugs, like PCP, ketamine and DXM, all have varying short-term effects, but they also can produce serious long-term effects. Read more...

What Are the Effects of PCP?

Of all the dissociative drugs, PCP (phencyclidine) probably has the most unpredictable effects. Shortly after it was developed in the 1950s as an anesthetic, its use in humans was discontinued because of its serious side-effects. Physiological effects can include increased blood pressure, rapid and shallow breathing, elevated heart rate and elevated temperature. There is a good reason one of the slang terms for PCP is "rocket fuel." Read more...

What Are the Effects of Ketamine?

Ketamine, which was also originally produced as a surgical anesthetic, can produce pleasurable effects for users, but it too can be unpredictable.

If too much of the drug is taken, the user can have a very unpleasant series of experiences referred to as experiencing the K-hole, including extreme panic, fear and anxiety. Read more...

What Are the Effects of Dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan is a cough-suppressant ingredient found in several brands of cough-syrup usually advertised as "extra strength." It is readily available and therefore popular among younger users. At low doses, DXM as it is known, can produce effects similar to PCP and Ketamine, but can have negative effects at higher dosages due to the other ingredients in the cough syrup. Read more...

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