Why Do People Take Hallucinogens?

Question: Why Do People Take Hallucinogens?

Answer: For centuries, hallucinogens have been used in many different cultures for a wide variety of reasons. Often they have been used in religious rituals or spiritual pursuits, to produce mystical "visions" or simply to induce detachment from reality.

Writers, poets and artists have used hallucinogens and other drugs through the decades to find inspiration or to spark creativity.

In more recent years, hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs have been used for more mundane purposes - social or recreational use just for "fun." People also use hallucinogens to deal with stress, or to try to achieve what they believe is an enlightened state of mind.

Many users take hallucinogenic drugs simply to escape their troubles lives or to relieve boredom. People who are mentally ill will try hallucinogens simply to alter their state of mind.

When you have someone who in a "normal" state is not strongly based in reality and then begins taking trips into a world of hallucinations, it can be a dangerous situation, psychologically.

Hallucinogens by definition cause users to have extreme distortions of their perceptioin of reality. They have experiences that look, feel and seem very real, but it fact are only in their minds. In other words, they completely escape reality.

On the other hand, there are some who think using hallucinogens could be therapeutic for some.

Although presently not approved for such use, some hallucinogenic drugs have been scientifically tested to see if they might have therapeutic effects on patients suffering from conditions related to perceptual distortions, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and dementia.

Back to: Hallucinogens FAQ


National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs." Research Report Series Updated January 2014

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