Hallucinogenic compouns can be found in some plants and mushrooms, as well as other that are chemically synthesized. Nearly all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are classified as alkaloids. The chemical structure of more hallucinogens are similar to those of natural neurotransmitters. While it is uncertain, research of Hallucinogens suggest that the drug temporarily interfers with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites. Common types of Hallucinogens include: LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), Peyote, Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine), and PCP (phencyclidine).


LSD was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid and is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals.  It was used in experiments by psychiatrists through the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, not medical purposes were found. The drug became widely popular for its hallucinogenic effects in the 1960’s, becoming a recreational drug of choice. The United States officially banned the drug in 1967.

The Peyote plant has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of religious ceremonies throughout history. Rhe principal active ingredient in Peyote is mescaline, which can also be produced through chemical synthesis.

Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) is obtained from certain types of mushrooms that are indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States. This potent hallucinogenic substance is best known as magic mushrooms. A person can eat these mushrooms, brew a tea with them, mix them with other foods. They have been used in Mexico, South America, Malaysia, India and Indonesia for thousands of years for religious rituals.

PCP (phencyclidine) was developed in the 1950s as an intravenous anesthetic. Due to serious adverse effects it was outlawed in the United States and classified as a Schedule II drug. Today, PCP is used for its “out of body” experiences, known by many names including: Angel Dust, Embalming Fluid, Killer Weed, Rocket Fuel, Supergrass.

Signs and Symptoms



  • dilated pupils
  • rise in body temperature
  • increase heart rate and blood pressure
  • profuse sweating
  • loss of appetite,
  • sleeplessness
  • dry mouth
  • tremors


  • increased body temperature and heart rate
  • uncoordinated movements (ataxia)
  • profound sweating
  • flushing
  • associated to fetal abnormalities


  • muscle relaxation or weakness
  • ataxia
  • excessive pupil dilation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • drowsiness


  •   slight increase in breathing rate
  • pronounced rise in blood pressure and pulse rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • flushing
  • profuse sweating
  • generalized numbness of the extremities
  • loss of muscular coordination


Treatment for alkaloid hallucinogen intoxication is often sought as a result of bad “trips.” This treatment often is supportive care within a quiet room with little sensory stimulation.  Depending on the severity of the patients symptoms, benzodiazepines may be used to control extreme agitation or seizures.

While Hallucinogen abuse is very wide spread, these drugs are not found to be addictive. However some may say that the life style that goes along with Hallucinogen abuse is. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)*, more than 1.1 million people aged 12 or older reported using hallucinogens within the past 12 months. Therapy can help patients to overcome their psychological need to use the drug and continue with the self destructive life style which goes along with it.