What are psychedelics?
To begin with types of psychedelics Psychedelics (also known as hallucinogens) are a class of psychoactive substances that produce changes in perception, mood and cognitive processes. Psychedelics affect all the senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time and emotions. They can also cause a person to hallucinate—seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted.
What do psychedelics look like?
There are many different kinds of psychedelics. Some occur naturally, in trees, vines, seeds, fungi and leaves. Others are made in laboratories.2 They come in many forms including tablets, blotter paper, dried mushrooms, powders and crystalline powders. types of psychedelics
Types of psychedelics
- LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) is made from a substance found in ergot, which is a fungus that infects rye.3
- Psilocybin is a naturally occurring substance found in mushrooms and is found in many parts of the world.4
- Mescaline is derived from the Mexican peyote and San Pedro cactus and produces similar effects to LSD.5
- DMT (Diemethyltryptamine) is structurally similar to psilocin, an alkaloid found in psilocybin mushrooms. It can be synthesised in the laboratory but is also a naturally occurring component of several plants.4
- 2C-B (4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine) is a psychedelic drug first synthesised in 1974. 2C-B is considered both a psychedelic and a mild entactogenic. ‘Entactogen’ means ‘touching within’ and is a term used by psychiatrists to classify MDMA and related drugs.6
- Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) is the most well-known and potent psychedelic cactus, although the smallest and slowest growing. Instead of growing upward to form a column, it grows as ‘buttons’ low to the ground. It has been used by Native Americans for over 5000 years.5
- 25[-x]-NBOMe (N-methoxybenzyl) is the name for a series of drugs that have psychedelics effects. Reports indicate that there are a number of different versions of NBOMe available – all with differing effects.7
How are they used?
Psychedelics have been used since ancient times by various cultures throughout the world for their mystical and spiritual associations. LSD, magic mushrooms, Mescaline and DMT are usually swallowed, smoked or inhaled. Mushrooms are usually eaten fresh, cooked or brewed into a ‘tea’.
Occasionally, they may be mixed with tobacco or cannabis and smoked. Mescaline is usually swallowed. Peyote buttons may be ground into a powder and smoked with cannabis or tobacco. The buttons can also be chewed or soaked in water to produce a liquid.
Most forms of NBOMe are inactive if swallowed, and the most common methods of taking them are under the tongue, held in the cheek or snorted.
Generally, people who use psychedelics don’t take them on a regular basis, but on occasions that may be weeks or months apart.
Effects of psychedelics
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Psychedelics affect everyone differently, based on:
- size, weight and health
- whether the person is used to taking it
- whether other drugs are taken around the same time
- the amount taken
- the strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch)
- environment (where the drug is taken).
The effects of psychedelics can last several hours and vary a lot, depending on the type of psychedelic used.
- feelings of euphoria
- sense of relaxation and wellbeing
- seeing and hearing things that aren’t there
- confusion and trouble concentrating
- blurred vision
- fast or irregular heart beat
- breathing quickly
- sweating and chills
Impact of mood and environment
Drugs that affect a person’s mental state (psychoactive drugs) can also have varied effects depending on a person’s mood (often called the ‘set’) or the environment they are in (the ‘setting’).
Set: a person’s state of mind, previous encounters with psychedelic drugs, and expectations of what’s going to happen. For example, feelings of stress or anxiety before using psychedelic drugs may result in an unpleasant experience (bad trip).9
Setting: the environment in which someone consumes psychedelic drugs – whether it’s known and familiar, who they’re with, if they’re indoors or outdoors, the type of music and light. For example, using psychedelics in a calm, quiet and relaxed environment can lead to, or contribute to, a pleasant experience but being in a noisy, crowded place may result in a negative experience.9
Being in a good state of mind, with trusted friends and a safe environment before taking psychedelics reduces the risk of having a bad trip.
Sometimes you can experience a ‘bad trip’, which is frightening and disturbing hallucinations. This can lead to panic and unpredictable behaviour, like running across a road or attempting suicide.
If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you are likely to experience negative effects of psychedelics.3,9
The most common long-term effect of psychedelic use is the ‘flashback’. Flashbacks are a re-experience of the drug and can occur days, weeks, months and even years later.
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 causing severe feelings of anxiety. They are usually visual and last for a minute or two.3,9
Mixing psychedelics with other drugs
The effects of mixing psychedelics with other drugs, including alcohol, prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines, are often unpredictable.
lastly Mixing psychedelics with stimulant drugs increases the stimulant effect and can further increase heart rate and place the body under extreme stress. Stimulants can also increase anxiety which can lead to a negative experience. Mixing psychedelics with benzodiazepines can increase anxiety, sadness and rapid heart rate. types of psychedelics