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There are many different types of hallucinogens. We will provide an overview of several of the most commonly abused today.

Hallucinogens: LSD

LSD ('acid' or 'trips') is one of the most commonly used hallucinogens. It was invented in 1938 and explored as a treatment for some mental illnesses. During the 1960s, LSD became the drug of choice of the "hippy" culture. Since then its use has declined, but there is some recent evidence of increased popularity.

In its pure state, LSD is a white, odorless powder. It usually comes in the form of a liquid or as tablets or capsules, squares of gelatine or blotting paper. LSD is swallowed, sniffed, injected or smoked. It is very potent, with small amounts causing strong effects. For easier handling, LSD is often diluted with another substance, such as sugar, or soaked onto sheets of blotting paper.

Hallucinogens: PCP
As well as effects similar to LSD, the effects of PCP include euphoria and numbness. Heavy use can cause PCP psychosis, with aggression, paranoia and violent or suicidal behavior.

Hallucinogens: Ecstasy/MDMA
Ecstasy is like both amphetamines and hallucinogens in chemical structure and effect. It is usually swallowed, but sometimes is also injected. Ecstasy can have hallucinogenic properties when used in high quantities.

Hallucinogens: Magic Mushrooms
They have the active ingredient psilocybin. They can be eaten fresh, cooked or brewed into a 'tea'. Small quantities cause relaxation and slight changes in mood, but larger quantities can cause stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, shivering, a numbing of the mouth and dizziness. People can mistake poisonous mushrooms for those containing psilocybin. Certain kinds of these poisonous mushrooms can cause death or permanent liver damage within hours of ingestion. A number of other mushrooms and plants that grow in Australia have hallucinogenic properties but also have dangerous, toxic side effects when sufficient qualities are used to give the psychedelic effect. These include datura (the belladonna plant) and fly agaric mushrooms.

Hallucinogens: Marijuana
In small quantities, cannabis is a depressant drug that slows down the body's systems. Very strong cannabis preparations or larger quantities of cannabis can cause mild hallucinogenic effects. These can lead to anxiety or panic in the user.

Most of the hallucinogens used in North America belong to one of these six categories:

  • indolealkylamines, which includes LSD (d-lysergic acid diethlyamide, a semi-synthetic substance originally derived from 'ergot', a fungus that grows on rye and other grains), LSA (d-lysergic amide, from morning glory seeds), psilocybin and psilocin (from Psilocybe mushrooms) and DMT (dimethyltryptamine, from the bark of the Virola tree, and other sources)
  • phenylethylamines, which includes mescaline (found in peyote cactus), and �??designer drugs�?? such as: MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine)
  • MDMA (ecstasy, methylenedioxymethamphetamine)
  • PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine)
  • 2-CB (4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine)
  • STP (2.5-domethoxy-4-methylamphetamine)
  • TMA (trimethoxyamphetamine).
  • arylcycloalkylamines, such as PCP (phencyclidine) and ketamine
  • cannabinoids, especially THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), found in marijuana, hash and hash oil
  • anticholinergics, from the plant family Solanaceae, which includes deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) and jimsonweed (Datura stramonium)
  • diterpene salvinorin-A, from the plant Salvia divinorum.

Hallucinogens have been used since ancient times, in religion, medicine, magic and prophecy. In the 1960s and 70s, hallucinogen use became a symbol of the counter-culture among young people in North America and Europe. More recently, hallucinogen use has been associated with the "rave" scene. 

Some hallucinogens come from mushrooms (psilocybin), cacti (mescaline) and other plants (cannabis, salvia). Of these, cannabis and psilocybin are almost always used in their natural form. Although LSD is used only in a synthesized form, a related drug, LSA, is found in nature. Other hallucinogens, such as MDMA and ketamine, are created in laboratories.

Different types of hallucinogens produce different effects; for example:

  • Ecstasy enhances mood and produces feelings of empathy and intimacy. It does not usually cause hallucinations.
  • Ketamine causes an out-of-body feeling, which may be pleasant or terrifying.
  • LSD produces a kaleidoscope of visual patterns and changes perception. People who take LSD usually know that the hallucinations are not real; however, the effects can appear real.
  • Salvia causes intense, short-lived hallucinogenic effects, different from other hallucinogens.
One of the club drugs known as special K (ketamine) is actually an animal tranquilizer used by vets for animal surgery.

The club drug known as special K is an odorless, tasteless drug that is found in liquid, pill, and powder form.

Chronic use of this Chloral Hydrate, a club drug, can lead to liver damages and serious withdrawal symptoms.

Combining GHB with alcohol can lead to nausea and breathing difficulties.

Most club drugs are usually stimulants and hallucinogens.

Meth is a very addictive stimulant that is closely related to amphetamine.

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