Psychedelic drugs, also known as hallucinogenic drugs or simply hallucinogens, are a group of substances that are usually used recreationally to change and enhance sensory perceptions, thought processes, and energy levels, and to facilitate spiritual experiences. They include chemicals, such as LSD, and plants, such as peyote.
How Are Psychedelic Drugs Used?
Psychedelics are often smoked (and inhaled), eaten, or brewed into tea. Use of hallucinogens goes back centuries in many cultures, and some are still used in religious ceremonies to experience spiritual or heightened states of awareness.
Hallucinogens were used in psychotherapy in the 1960s, but this was halted for mainly political reasons until quite recently. Psychological research has since revived the use of psychedelics in experimental psychological treatment.
Psychedelics are slowly reappearing in psychology and psychiatry as a viable way to treat anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. However, regulated treatments are currently experimental and not accessible to many people.
If you are looking to treat symptoms of a mental health condition, be sure to talk to a doctor about other treatment options that may help, such as therapy, prescribed medication, and meditation.
Types of Psychedelic Drugs
The following are some of the most commonly used psychedelic substances.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a chemically synthesized hallucinogen, developed from ergot, a kind of mold that grows on the rye grain. Also known simply as acid, LSD was widely used in the 1960s until it was made illegal. Use of LSD has continued, despite being a controlled substance, although its use has gone through phases of greater or lesser popularity.
Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring plant-based psychedelic found in the bark and nuts of certain trees from Central and South America. The effects of DMT are much shorter than those of other psychedelics, typically lasting only an hour. This has led to DMT trips being referred to as “businessman’s trip” or “businessman’s lunch.”
Ecstasy, or MDMA, is more difficult to categorize as a psychedelic because the hallucinogenic effects are less pronounced, and the mood-enhancing and stimulant effects are more noticeable to the user than some other psychedelics. However, ecstasy can induce hallucinations and delusions.
It is possible to have a bad trip on ecstasy, although this is not as common as bad trips on LSD or mushrooms. Ecstasy has also been associated with increased risks of health problems arising from overheating, dehydration, and water intoxication.