Hallucinogens are a particular type of psychoactive drug, affecting the brain with mind-altering chemicals. These drugs create changes in thought, perception and emotion. The person has an “experience” on the drug, similar to a dream, a trance or insanity.

Hallucinogenic Drugs

There are a number of hallucinogenic drugs, all causing a vast disarray of hallucinations and altered thinking. These drugs include LSD, PCP, Ecstasy, ketamine, magic mushrooms, as well as some cough medicines.

How Hallucinogens Work

Hallucinogens disrupt the interactions of nerve cells throughout the brain. The areas of the brain affected are those that control perception, behavior and regulatory systems. When these nerves are disrupted, various results occur, such as changes in body temperature, moods, muscle control and perceptions. Behavior can drastically alter as can hunger and sensory perception.

Signs of Abuse of Hallucinogens

You can often identify someone on a hallucinogen drug by physical signs. They usually have a blank stare, very large pupils and glassy eyes. They will likely be flushed and sweating. They certainly won’t be focused on the real world around them. Someone on a hallucinogen often become inappropriately interested in some common object, will daydream and converse in an esoteric way.

If you are inspecting someone’s house or room for hallucinogen paraphernalia you will find colorful blotter tabs, or possibly empty (or full) bottles of cold medicine or cough tablets.

Effects of Hallucinogen Drugs

Besides the hallucinations that accompany the use of hallucinogen drugs, there are a number of other effects coming from the use of these dangerous drugs. Some types are stimulants and some are depressants, so effects can vary.

Some of the other effects of hallucinogens are:

>Distortion of time sense
>Skin discoloration

Heavy Reactions from Hallucinogens

Some very unpleasant side effects come from the use of hallucinogenic drugs. One scary part is how unpredictable the effects really are. Sounds and colors can become intensified, well beyond the users’ toleration. Some may have panic attacks or experience an extreme fear of dying. Flashbacks are another very possible effect, where a person can have a recurrence of an experience on the drug, when taking it years previously and not using it since then.


LSD is an abbreviation for lysergic acid diethylamide. This drug is the one most often identified with hallucinogenic drugs. It is considered a type of dissociative drug. It is clear or white in color, has no odor and is water soluble. It is the most potent perception- and mood-altering drug known. When taking even a small dose, the effects can last up to twelve hours.

LSD, like other hallucinogens, distorts shapes and movements, and the person using it may feel that time has slowed down or that his or her body is changing shape. Some experiences are pleasurable but others can be like a nightmare you can’t wake up from. What sort of experience the person will have on the drug is completely unpredictable. It depends on the amount taken and the person’s mood, surroundings and other factors at the time ingested.


PCP (or phencyclidine) was initially used as a general anesthetic for surgery. It changes the perceptions of sound and sight and produces dissociation from the environment. Although PCP is not mind-altering and is not really classified as a hallucinogen, it is a dissociative drug and produces similar effects.

A PCP user will often experience a feeling of being out of his body; he will feel detached from his surroundings and can become violent. Low doses produce rapid breathing, blood pressure increasing and elevated heart rate. With a dose of 10 milligrams, the person will have dangerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and these symptoms can also be accompanied by blurred vision, dizziness and nausea. High doses can cause convulsions, coma and even death.

If someone uses PCP repeatedly, they can become addicted.


Ketamine is also considered a dissociative drug. This also, like PCP, was originally developed as a general anesthetic. The drug sold on the street has often been taken from supplies headed for veterinarian’s offices. It is available on the street in powder or is compressed into pills.

The effects of this drug are similar to PCP, but it is less potent. Ketamine is known as a “date-rape” drug as it is odorless and tasteless and can be added to drinks and consumed but undetected.


Dextromethorphan is a cough-suppressing ingredient that is within a number of over-the-counter cold and cough medicines. It is called DXM or robo on the street. The most common source of this drug, when abused, is through extra-strength cough syrup.

When used at higher than the recommended dosages, this drug acts similar to PCP and ketamine. The user becomes disassociated from his environment and surroundings. He may feel he is “out of his body.” The effects of dextromethorphan vary with the amount taken. Along with the other ingredients in cough syrups, taking this drug this way increases the risk of real harm.

Hallucinogens History

Hallucinogens have been around for thousands of years. Cultures all over the world have used them in religion, medicine and “recreation.” They were outlawed in many cases, with resulting imprisonment or fines. Some cultures even put people to death if they used these mind-altering drugs.

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