Hallucinogens (LSD, acid, trips)

Hallucinogenic drugs, also known as "psychedelics", change the way a person perceives the world. Hallucinogens affect the central nervous system, altering a person's thinking, sense of time and emotions. They can cause a person to see or hear things that are distorted or do not exist.

There are many different kinds of hallucinogens. Some occur naturally, in trees, vines, seeds, fungi and leaves. Others are manufactured in laboratories.

Some examples of hallucinogens include:

  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Magic mushrooms (psilocybin)
  • Morning glory seeds
  • Datura
  • Mescaline (peyote cactus)
  • PCP (phencyclidine)
  • Ketamine
  • Ecstasy (MDMA and related drugs in high doses)
  • Cannabis (in high doses)

How are hallucinogens used?

Naturally occurring hallucinogens have been used since ancient times by various cultures throughout the world for their mystical and spiritual associations.

Generally, people who use hallucinogens don't take them on a regular basis, but on occasions that may be weeks or months apart. This may be because the effects require a long recovery time or because the pleasurable effects are unpredictable.

Effects of hallucinogens

The effects of any drug (including hallucinogens) vary from person to person. The effects of hallucinogens also depend on the environment in which the drug is taken and the mood and expectations of the person taking it. For example, whether the person is in a good mood or feeling anxious, is alone, with others or at a party will affect the way in which the drug works.

Immediate effects

The effects of hallucinogens can last several hours and vary considerably depending on the specific type of hallucinogen. Some of the typical effects of hallucinogens include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Euphoria
  • Sense of relaxation and feeling of well-being
  • Hallucinations and distorted sensory processing, including visual, auditory, body, time and space perception
  • Disorganised thoughts, confusion and difficulty concentrating, thinking or maintaining attention
  • Anxiety, agitation, paranoia and feelings of panic
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased body temperature and sweating; may alternate with chills and shivering
  • Numbness

Long term effects

The most consistent long term effect of hallucinogens is the flashback. Days, weeks or even years later, some people re-experience the effects of the drug. The person may see intense colours and experience hallucinations. Flashbacks can be triggered by the use of other drugs, or by stress, fatigue or physical exercise. The flashback experience can range from being pleasant to producing severe feelings of anxiety and usually last for a minute or two.

Treatment options

Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's circumstances, and usually involves a combination of counselling, group therapy, pharmacotherapy and withdrawal programs.

Souce of information: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation 

Hallucinogens information page by the DrugInfo Clearinghouse

DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention. Their information page about hallucinogens details the effects of the drug, withdrawal and treatment options.

http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/hallucinogens

LSD fact sheet by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)

NDARC conducts research and related activities that increases the effectiveness of Australian and international treatment and other intervention responses to alcohol and drug related harm. Their general fact sheet about hallucinogens has some useful information on effects and prevalence rates.

https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/resource/hallucinogens

LSD information page by DanceSafe

DanceSafe is a US based nonprofit, harm reduction organisation promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community. DanceSafe's information page about LSD contains facts on health risks.

http://www.dancesafe.org/lsd/

If someone is having a "bad trip" they need to be reassured and calmed until the immediate effects have passed, although this can take many hours.

Move and speak calmly and in a confident manner, address the person by name and tell them who you are. Make sure the person and all the people around them are safe and, if possible, don't leave them alone.

What to do in a crisis

If someone has an adverse reaction while using hallucinogens, it is very important that they receive professional help as soon as possible. A quick response can save their life.

Call an ambulance by dialling 000. Don't delay because you think you or your friend might get into trouble. Ambulance officers are not obliged to involve the police.

Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives.

Reference: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

DanceSafe

DanceSafe is a US based nonprofit, harm reduction organisation promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community.

http://www.dancesafe.org/

DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention.

http://druginfo.adf.org.au/

National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)

NDARC conducts research and related activities that increases the effectiveness of Australian and international treatment and intervention responses to alcohol and other drug related harm.

http://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/

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