Author: Alex Thompson

How Hallucinogens Affect the Body: Changes in Physiology and Perception

the effects of hallucinogens on the body

The experience may include hallucinations, though usually the flashbacks are visual disturbances such as seeing false motion, trails attached to moving objects, or bright or colored flashes. The condition can be persistent and, in some cases, remains for years after the individual has stopped using the drug. The drugs can induce a distorted sense of sight, hearing, and touch, or change the users’ impressions of time and space. On some “trips,” users experience sensations that are enjoyable and mentally stimulating with a sense of heightened self-awareness and insight. “Bad trips,” however, can include terrifying thoughts and nightmarish feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and despair; these may include fears of insanity, death, or losing control of one’s mind or body. Your chances of experiencing long-term effects, including persistent psychotic symptoms, is higher if you ingest large doses of acid or have a preexisting mental health condition, such as schizophrenia.

Ketamine is an anesthetic that healthcare providers use for surgery on humans and animals. Much of the ketamine people use is stolen from veterinary offices. People usually snort it as a powder or swallow it as a pill, but they can also inject it as a liquid.

the effects of hallucinogens on the body

Many hallucinogens also cause increased heart rate, high blood pressure and dilated pupils. NIDA supports and conducts research to learn whether some of these drugs may help treat substance use disorders in medical settings. See NIDA-funded projects related to psychedelic and dissociative drugs, and learn more about related clinical trials. The effects of salvia include visions and hallucinations, such as the blending of senses.

What are psychedelic and dissociative drugs?

However, scientists are now looking into the possibility of using certain hallucinogens as provider-supervised treatments for mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Specific dissociative drugs also cause unique side effects. The effects of PCP include seizures, violent behavior and psychotic symptoms. Salvia abuse can cause intense mood swings, including uncontrollable laughter. Nearly all hallucinogens are illegal, and researchers don’t consider any amount of drug use safe.

the effects of hallucinogens on the body

Because the extract is so bitter, some people prefer to prepare tea by boiling the cacti for several hours. LSD isn’t considered addictive because it doesn’t cause uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior. But repeated use can build up a person’s tolerance, so they have to take a higher dose to achieve the same effect. Short-term treatment programs that last less than six months include residential therapy, medication therapy, and drug-free outpatient therapy.

Short-Term Effects of Dissociatives

Combining LSD and alcohol reduces the effects of both substances. Not feeling the full effects of either makes you more likely to reach for more, increasing your risk for overdoing it. An LSD hangover can leave you feeling “off” for a few hours or days.

  1. For most people, the entire experience from trip to comedown lasts around 24 hours.
  2. Experts think the drugs cause hallucinations by disrupting communication between chemical systems in the brain and spinal cord.
  3. Mixing hallucinogens with stimulant drugs (such as cocaine or amphetamines) increases the stimulant effects and can further increase the heart rate and place the body under extreme stress.
  4. While some debate remains on how to describe these drugs and how specific drugs are classified, researchers generally classify them according to how they work in the brain.
  5. Hallucinogens can also cause physiological symptoms such as increased heart rate and blood pressure and may induce convulsions and seizures when used at high doses.

Hallucinogens that affect the same part of the brain cause cross-tolerance. That means someone taking LSD also becomes tolerant to mescaline or psilocybin. Mescaline is the psychoactive ingredient in peyote, and psilocybin is the psychoactive drug in magic mushrooms. When people develop tolerance to a drug, they require higher doses to feel the same effects. However, DMT does not seem to cause tolerance, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Psychedelic and Dissociative Drugs

People who use hallucinogens refer to their experiences with the drugs as “trips.” They call an experience that causes positive effects, such as happiness, heightened awareness and abstract thinking, a good trip. Some people find it hard to shake off a bad trip and have trouble adjusting to reality, even long after the LSD’s effects have worn off. Depending on whether you had a good or bad trip, the afterglow can involve feeling energized and happy or anxious and unsettled. This phase lasts around 6 hours, but it can last days or even weeks if you took a lot of acid, according to some research.

Longer-term treatment may involve withdrawal (detoxification), pharmacotherapy, and residential therapeutic community treatment. The effects of mixing hallucinogens with other drugs, including alcohol, prescription medicines and over the counter medicines, are often unpredictable. Unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety, paranoia and panic, can lead to a bad trip. Bad trips are characterized by terrifying thoughts, loss of control and insanity.

Combining hallucinogens with stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines, can cause serious heart problems. Both types of drugs increase blood pressure and heart rate. Deaths from mescaline, mushroom or LSD overdoses are rare, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. These drugs may increase the risk of death from dangerous behavior, accidents or suicide. There are no specific treatments for drug use and substance use disorder (SUD).

The FDA has also granted Breakthrough Therapy designation for two formulations of psilocybin being studied as potential medical treatments for depression. Hallucinogens may cause profound changes in the perception of time, space, or consciousness. In some cases, the hallucinations caused by this class of drug are purely visual or sensory; in other cases, they include delusions and false notions. Certain kinds of hallucinogens can also produce rapid, intense mood swings. Some report that these transitions occur so quickly that users feel as if they are experiencing several emotions simultaneously.

Yes, researchers classify weed (cannabis) as a hallucinogen. Although marijuana doesn’t always produce hallucinogenic effects, it can do so at high doses. Death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication.


While intoxicated, PCP users may become violent or suicidal and are therefore dangerous to themselves and others. Psilocybin can cause a wide range of effects from heightened sensory awareness to impaired judgment. “Bad trips” may cause frightening hallucinations, terror, depression or panic attacks. They may have mystical experiences, such as visions or blending of their senses. Combining hallucinogens with depressant drugs such as alcohol may further reduce coordination and increases the chances of vomiting.

Some people may experience a drug induced psychosis after using hallucinogens. The psychosis is usually characterised by hallucinations, delusions and bizarre behaviour and can last for several hours or longer for some people. People who use hallucinogens sometimes have flashbacks to hallucinations experienced during a trip. Recurring flashbacks characterize hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, sometimes referred to as HPPD. LSD can produce a range of short-term psychedelic and physical effects, but guessing which ones you’ll experience is a bit of a crapshoot. The combo of effects varies from person to person, and even from one trip to another.