What are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens are often regarded as hippy-era drugs.  In the 60s and 70s, drugs such as LSD, marijuana, PCP, magic mushrooms, and mescaline were widely used and promoted by individuals of the peace movement.  The hippie culture has ended, but the drug culture continues.  

What are hallucinogens?  They are psychoactive substances that cause hallucinations or profound changes in perception.  The drugs are also known as psychedelics and they come in many varieties.  Hallucinogens can be classified into two categories: dissociative drugs and classic hallucinogens.

Anyone struggling with hallucinogen dependence in the Lancaster, CA area can contact Design for Change Recovery.  We offer a multimodality treatment plan that can be customized for each client.

Most Commonly Used Hallucinogens 

Regardless of the perceived safety of these drugs, repeated or prolonged use can cause serious side effects.  They may also lead to psychological and physical addiction for some individuals.

These are the most commonly used hallucinogen/psychedelics drugs today:


Lysergic acid diethylamide is derived from a fungus known as ergot.  It is often referred to as LSD or Acid.  The substance was once used in psychiatric therapy and research.  It is classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act.

As a popular club drug, LSD is commonly used by teens and young adults. With small doses, LSD causes mild changes in mood and perception.  In large doses, it will produce distortions and in space and time.  The person will also experience visual hallucinations.

LSD is a white, odorless, crystalline substance.  It is so potent that only a small amount is needed.  Because of its potency, it is often diluted with other materials.  For instance, it may be dropped on sugar cubes or blotting paper.  When these are swallowed, the drug is released.  LSD may also be sold in liquid, tablet, or capsule forms.


Phencyclidine is a dissociative anesthetic that causes an out-of-body experience.  When a person comes down from the drug, they may become irrational and agitated.  The substance can be used as an additive in other street drugs to enhance their effects.  

PCP is sold in powder form that is snorted, smoked, swallowed, or injected.  Street names for the drug include Angel Dust, Killer Weed, Zoom, Embalming Fluid, among others.  High doses of PCP cause hallucinations.  But, more serious side effects may occur.  Some people have committed suicide or had fatal accidents while in their altered state of consciousness.  

Peyote and Mescaline

Lophophora williamsii (Mescaline) is a potent psychedelic or hallucinogen. a derivative of the Mexican peyote and San Pedro cactus. The cactus bears small disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried.  The dried buttons will be chewed or soaked in water to produce a liquid form.  

Mescaline acts similar to LSD and was first used by indigenous peoples during religious rites.  The substance was once used medically to treat depression and alcoholism.  But, the negative effects soon outweighed the positive uses.


Derived from mushrooms that grow naturally in many parts of the world.  Commonly known as magic mushrooms or shrooms. Psilocybin produces hallucinogenic effects when the mushroom is eaten or brewed into a tea.   A dried version can be smoked, often mixed with marijuana or tobacco.

As with any hallucinogen, Psilocybin can cause an unpleasant experience known as a “bad trip.”  The signs of a bad trip can include paranoia, panic, anxiety, fear, or intense hallucinations.

Other popular hallucinogens include:

  • DMT
  • Ayahuasca
  • Salvia Divinorum
  • GHB
  • Bath Salts

When any hallucinogen is abused, the person can suffer serious side effects.  They are also at risk for addiction or overdose.  

Hallucinogen Dependence or Addiction

Compared to other addictive substances, becoming addicted to hallucinogens isn’t common.  But, after repeated use, a person will need more of the drug to get the desired effect.  Also, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping their use of the substance.  These are signs of physical dependence or addiction.  

Individuals can also develop a psychological dependence on hallucinogens.  The signs of psychological dependence are evidenced by the following behaviors:

  • Going to any extreme to get more of the drug.
  • Needing to take more of the drug more frequently.
  • Avoiding responsibilities.
  • Social isolation from friends or family.
  • Continued use of the drug despite recognizing the consequences.

Research surrounding hallucinogen addiction and overdoses is flawed.  Understanding the difference between a bad trip and an overdose is often difficult because each person responds to the drugs differently.  

At Design for Change Recovery in Lancaster, CA, you can overcome hallucinogen dependence or addiction. We understand that each client has emotional and physical reasons for using these substances.  For that reason, we offer a holistic approach to treatment that seeks to heal the person in body, mind, and spirit.

Overdosing on Hallucinogens: Myth or Fact?

Some studies indicate that hallucinogen overdoses are rare.  However, a person who has underlying health conditions may be more vulnerable to an overdose.  The purity of the substance is another risk factor for overdose.  Many of these drugs are often mixed with cheap chemicals that can be deadly.  

Overdose does not always mean a fatal outcome is inevitable.  Many people use more of the drug than they should.  As a result, they suffer mental, physical, or emotional symptoms that can be dangerous. In some cases, irreversible mental health problems can occur.  Therefore, it is possible to overdose on hallucinogens, but it may not be fatal.  

One of the dangers of hallucinogens is the person’s behavior or actions while on the substances.  Deaths attributed to accidents and recklessness are not uncommon.  When a person is under the influence of hallucinogens, they display lapses in judgment and a loss of inhibitions.  So, they may act out in bizarre or dangerous ways.

Signs of Hallucinogen Overdose

Although the possibility of hallucinogen overdose is a grey area, some people do experience uncomfortable or overwhelming symptoms.  Whether caused by a bad trip or from using too much of the drug, they can be harmful.

Symptoms of hallucinogen overdose can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Paranoia, anxiety, mood swings
  • Spasms or convulsions
  • Excessive sweating, high temperature
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Psychosis

Most of these symptoms go away within about 24 hours. In most cases, medical attention is not necessary.  However, some people have been permanently affected by psychosis symptoms.  Known as persistent psychosis, the effects include continuing mental problems such as disorganized thinking, paranoia, mood changes, and visual disturbances.

Combining hallucinogens with other substances or medications can also be dangerous.  For example, taking PCP with depressants such as benzodiazepines or alcohol can lead to coma.

Treatment for Hallucinogens in Lancaster, CA

Individuals who are struggling to control their hallucinogen use should contact a professional addiction treatment program such as Design for Change Recovery.  Our comprehensive program will address the physical and behavioral aspects that contribute to addiction. 

With a multi-faceted approach to recovery, our clients learn effective methods for avoiding drugs in the future. Through counseling and interactive therapies, our clients are able to explore the underlying reasons for their substance abuse.  

If you’re considering professional treatment for hallucinogen abuse, contact us at Design for Change Recovery in Lancaster, CA today.  We will be available at any time to assist you in planning your recovery path.

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