Hallucinogens

Hallucinogenic drugs have been used by man since pre-historic times and continue to be used today in some cultures in the context of religious rituals. The broad category of hallucinogens can be divided into the following three informal subgroups based on the subjective experiences they produce and the neurotransmitter receptors to which they bind: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deleriants.

Psychedelic hallucinogens are perhaps the best known of these sub-groups and include drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote (a cactus containing the hallucinogen mescaline), and DMT (an extremely potent but short lasting hallucinogenic drug found in many plants throughout the world). The common mechanism of action of drugs in this class appears to be activation of a particular receptor in the brain called 5-HT2A.

Dissociative hallucinogens induce in the user a sense of detachment from the body and its sensory input. This characteristic has led to the use of some of these drugs in medicine as anesthetic agents. Common dissociatives include PCP, ketamine, and dextromethorphan. These drugs bind to receptors in the brain called NMDA glutamate receptors and prevent glutamate from binding to them

Deleriants are a class of drug that mimic the experience of being delirious or demented. They do this by binding to acetylcholine receptors and preventing acetylcholine from binding to them and are thus called “anticholinergic”. Not surprisingly, drugs that increase acetylcholine binding are used in medicine to treat dementia. Anticholinergic substances occur naturally in numerous plants around the world and are sometimes used in religious ceremonies. In general, those in Western culture who have experimented with these drugs report the experience as being extremely unpleasant.

While hallucinogens are not as addictive as most other drugs of abuse, their use is not free of risk. Overdose on dissociatives and deleriants can be fatal and use of any hallucinogen can cause adverse psychological reactions in susceptible individuals. If you or your loved one has a problem with use of hallucinogens or any other class of drug, and needs drug rehab please give us a call now to speak with one of our specialists.

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