Hallucinogens distort a person’s perception of reality. While under the influence of hallucinogens, we see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that aren’t real.
Hallucinogens can be synthetic or they can come from plants or mushrooms or extracts from plants and mushrooms. Most are classified as belonging to one of two types: classic or dissociative. An example of the class is LSD (acid); an example of dissociative is PCP. The latter demonstrates some of the most dangerous side effects, particularly rapid, intense emotional swings. Classic hallucinogens can have have unpleasant and dangerous effects as well.
In the scientific community, hallucinogens and dissociative drugs are a bit of a mystery. Although we’ve learned a fair amount of the pharmacology of these drugs, researchers aren’t sure exactly how they produce their strange effects. The answer could lie in the neurotransmitter system; hallucinogens may disrupt communication throughout the brain and spinal cord, changing our mood, sensory perception, sleep, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, and muscle control.
For some, the experience of certain hallucinogenic drugs happen to be pleasant. Throughout history, tribes, civilizations, and societies have implemented both classic and dissociative hallucinogens into their culture. In the US today, most of the popular variants, like LSD, are illegal for their potential for abuse and the risks they pose. Depending on several factors – the amount used, the purity, the method and setting of ingestion, and the size and health of the user – use of hallucinogens can cause anxiety, fear, paranoia, and psychosis (aka a lack of contact with reality). Due to all this, users are vulnerable to dangerous and fatal accidents while under the influence of hallucinogens.
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