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September 25, 2013

Hallucinogens

by Angel Pumila

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are a classification of drugs that distort the perception of the world around the user. Hallucinogens are similar to other types of drug use in that they are recreationally used for their euphoric effects.  The difference though, is the rate of addiction is low or nonexistent in comparison to other forms of drugs.

Substances within this classification include “LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, MDMA, ketamine, DMT, PCP, and marijuana.  These hallucinogens are grouped into five categories. 

Indoles (LSD & psilocybin mushrooms): LSD was accidentally discovered by Dr. Albert Hoffman in 1938 as a result of extracting the drug from a fungus known as ergot.  Dr. Hoffman unintentionally touched the substance and began feeling a changed sense of perception of the world around, visual and auditory hallucinations, and a feeling of going crazy.  “LSD was considered as a therapy for mental illnesses and alcoholism and as a key to investigating thought processes” (Inaba & Cohen 2007).  It became popular in the 1960s as “acidheads” began experimenting with the drug.  LSD tolerance develops quickly causing more and more of the drug needed for the same experience.  Psychological withdrawal of LSD is more common than physical symptoms of withdrawal. 

Psychedelic (psilocybin) mushrooms have a similar chemical pattern as LSD.  Mushrooms tend to make a user nauseas before the drug’s effect takes place.  This drug has similar effects as LCD such as “changes in sight, hearing, taste, touch, and altered state of consciousness” (Inaba & Cohen, 2007), but without the panic and disassociation. 

Psychedelic (psilocybin) mushrooms have a similar chemical pattern as LSD.  Mushrooms tend to make a user nauseas before the drug’s effect takes place.  This drug has similar effects as LCD such as “changes in sight, hearing, taste, touch, and altered state of consciousness” (Inaba & Cohen, 2007), but without the panic and disassociation. 

Phenylalkylamines (peyote & MDMA): Peyote is derived from ingredients found in the peyote cactus.  This drug is legal for use by American Indians in religious ceremonies as decided by the Supremem Court in 1996.  Peyote “participants have hallucinatory visions of a deity or spiritual leader with whom they are able to converse for guidance and understanding” (Furst, 1996).  The effects of peyote last for up to 12 hours and create similar effects as LSD, but with the same nauseas effect of mushrooms. Abuse for this drug is limited since the main use is associated with religious ceremonies.

Anticholinergics (belladonna & datura): Belladonna comes from chemicals found in the leaves of the belladonna bush.  Effects of use include increased heartrate, hallucinations, difficulty focusing, and prolonged sleep. 

Miscellaneous Psychedelics (ketamine, PCP, saliva divinorum & dextromethorphan): PCP originated from a form of anesthetic that was never approved for human use.  It is ingested in various ways such as snorting, injecting, smoking, or swallowed.  Effects of this drug include a loss of pain, inhibitions, and separation from reality that lasts from 1-48 hours depending on the dosage.  Retrograde amnesia is common with PCP use as some users experience memory loss of some events during and prior to taking the drug.

Cannabinoids (marijuana): Marijuana use became popular in the United States at the end of World War I.  Effects of marijuana use include loss of pain, increased appetite, reduced muscle coordination, drowsiness, and problems with concentration.  Health consequences of using marijuana are damaged lungs and lowered immune system.  Users claim to experience no withdrawal effects with discontinued use. 

 Marijuana has had the highest level of controversy compared with other drugs. Political campaigns occasionally center part of their campaign on the issue of legalization.  This tends to cause a debate within public opinion as to whether or not make use legal in all states.  In a university study, attitudes about use “shifted from strongly negative to strongly positive as frequency of marijuana use increased” (Marino & Truss, 1973) within the university.  Others claim that marijuana is the gateway that leads to a variety of drug abuse.  Although debatable, some studies do show that marijuana use lowers the chances of using other drugs (Nirenberg, Cellucci, Liepman, Shift, & Sirota, 1996).

 

 

References

Furst, P.T. (1976). Hallucinogens and Culture.  Sand Franscisco: Chandler & Sharp Publishers, Inc.

Inaba, D. S., & Cohen, W. E. (2007). Uppers, downers, all arounders: Physical and mental effects of psychoactive drugs (6th ed.). Medford, OR: CNS Publications Inc.

Nirenberg, T.D., Cellucci, T., Liepman, M.R., Swift, R.M., & Sirota, A.D. (1996). Cannabis versus other illicit drug use among methadone maintenance paitents.  Psychology Of Addictive Behaviors, 10(4), 222-227. Doi:10.1037/0893-164X.10.4.222

Martino, E.R., & Truss, C.V. (1973).  Drug use and attitudes toward social and legal aspects of marijuana in a large metropolitan university.  Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 20(2), 120-126.

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