Hallucinogens (eg LSD)


LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a product of a fungus found on rye and other grasses. Other naturally occurring hallucinogens are found in a number of species of mushroom and plant. This family of chemicals bear a structural resemblance to a neuro-transmitter substance found in the brain (5 hydroxytryptamine). Modern chemistry has produced several synthetic hallucinogens eg PCP (phencyclidine), MDA (a hallucinogenic amphetamine) but these are far more common in the USA than Britain.

The quantity of LSD required for a trip is extremely small so the amount is either mixed with other powders to form a small tablet, or is dissolved in a solution which is absorbed on paper ( a "tab" ) or a sugar cube.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms eg Psilocybe Semilanceata (Liberty cap), Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric), can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried and then brewed into a tea.



Depending upon the purity of the LSD taken, a trip will start 30 - 60 minutes later, peak at 2-6 hours, and last up to 12 hours. Between 20 to 30 mushrooms may need to be taken to have the same effect. The user is likely to experience strong perceptual distortions and possible mystical or ecstatic experiences involving heightened self-awareness. As with all drugs, the mood of the user shapes the experience so as well as 'good trips' users can have 'bad trips' where the experience is one of anxiety, disorientation and psychotic episodes.

Suicides or accidental deaths due to hallucinogenic induced perceptions are rare, and fatal overdose has not been documented. By far the greatest risk in using hallucinogens occurs when picking the incorrect species of mushroom (mistaking the poisonous Amanita Phalloides (Death Cap) for the Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric) which look very similar). This can prove fatal following ingestion.



At present it is believed there is no long term physical damage from long term hallucinogen use. However, serious psychological damage is possible with prolonged use, particularly in those users with existing underlying mental ill health, who might be likely to experience psychotic behaviour. Some users report having "flashbacks" where they re-experience vividly an earlier 'trip'. Whilst these are not dangerous, they can be extremely distressing and leave the person disorientated.

No physical dependence, to the extent that withdrawal is experienced, has been proved. However, repeated doses over a short period of time (3-4 days) do seem to render the drug almost ineffective, such that a break is necessary before the effects can be had again. Psychological dependence is possible but because of the above tendency, users are unlikely to use daily.



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