Studies suggest that hallucinogenic drugs alter a consumer’s perception by working on neural circuits of the brain, specifically in the prefrontal cortex, a region that actively includes vision, mood, and cognition. Although dissociative drugs are supposed to disrupt the glutamate production in the brain, hallucinogens are predicted to affect the serotonin neurotransmitter as well.

What are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens, such as acid, shrooms, LSD, molly, and ecstasy are drugs that are most commonly used are dance parties or gatherings. Hallucinogenic substances alter a user’s perception of reality, making it hard to decipher delusions from reality. Hallucinogenic medicines are sometimes referred to as psychoactive drugs, due to their effect on a person’s psyche.

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), hallucinogens can also affect brain regions which deal with controlling excitement and physiological responses to stress and panic.

Effect of Hallucinogens on a person

During a “trip” on hallucinogenic substances, a person’s sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell functions are greatly affected. Someone may start to see, smell, or feel things that are not actually there. Sometimes, the feeling individuals get while under the influence of these drugs is referred to as a “dream state”. Euphoria and stimulation are common side-effects of these kinds of substances. Now, let’s discuss some common hallucinogens that are often used; they are as follows:

LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide) 

LSD is one of the most powerful chemicals that alter the brain. It is a clear or white, odorless, lysergic-acid-made material found in a fungus that grows on rye. LSD has many other road names such as salt, blotter acid, lines, and purple.


Psilocybin derives from certain varieties of mushrooms distributed in South American, Mexico, and U.S. tropical and subtropical regions. Little flame, magic mushrooms, and shrooms are some common names for psilocybin.


Peyote is a tiny, spineless cactus with mescaline. Peyote can be organic as well. It’s a naturally grown plant that holds hallucinogenic properties. Some common names for peyote include keys, mesc, and cactus.


Dimethyltryptamine is a potent compound naturally present in certain plants in the Amazon. Ayahuasca is composed of sugar and is also known as hoasca, aya, and yagé.


251-NBOMe is a synthetic hallucinogen which, although much more active, has similarities to both LSD and MDMA. Designed to be used in brain research, it is sometimes called N bombs or 251 when sold on the drug market.

This drug has highly unpredictable consequences. In addition to the long-term threats to your mental health, such a substance can continuously hinder judgments, worsen a person’s predictability, and leave them prone to performing unsafe or harmful behaviors.

How it affects the functions of the brain?

Let’s discuss exactly how these drugs can affect a person’s normal brain functions. Remember that experts still need to find out just how hallucinogens are functioning and not all hallucinogens function in the same way on the brain of the user.

Neurotransmitters naturally occur in brain chemicals that transmit information throughout the mind and body of the person. There are two main types of neurotransmitters, but both forms influence neurotransmitters. For starters, one form of neurotransmitter tells your lungs to relax, and a second type tells your belly to groan if you are hungry.

Serotonin is affected by common hallucinogens such as LSD. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps control actions, emotions, and perceptive functions. Drugs like LSD and other hallucinogens can over-stimulate a person’s brain and cause them to have weakened inhibitions and possibly develop psychosis. Since LSD agitates the brain components that govern attitude and awareness, the consumer sometimes has sensory overlap experience. Some people say they can “hear” things or “see” colors that might otherwise see. The unfiltered continuum of memories and emotive feelings are often encountered as well.

Certain hallucinogens, such as PCP, affect glutamate use in the body. It is a neurotransmitter that affects the perception of pain, learning, and memory. Glutamate reception is often interrupted or blocked by the hallucinogens.

Symptoms of Hallucinogen Abuse

Hallucinations are an example of just one of the many symptoms that come along with hallucinogen abuse. Such symptoms can start 20 to 90 minutes after the initial use. Depending on the dose and the general health of the user, they can last up to 12 hours.

However, hallucinations are not the only side-effect a user can experience from this kind of substance abuse. These drugs can cause major physical and mental problems that affect the overall well-being of a person. Hallucinogenic substances may induce a broad range of symptoms, as shown by the National Medication Abuse Institute:

  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Loss of appetite
  • An abnormal increase in body temperature
  • Altered perception of reality

Can you be addicted to Hallucinogens?

Yes indeed. Evidence indicates that most hallucinogens can be toxic and addictive. Considering the unpredictability of hallucinogens, using them is an extremely dangerous activity. Consistent use of these kinds of substances can create tolerance and dependence. For those who try and quit this kind of substance use, they often experience withdrawal symptoms like depression, anxiety, muscle twitches, profuse sweating, nausea, etc. All these kinds of side-effects are due to the fact that a person has developed some kind of dependence on the substance. 

What are the treatments for Hallucinogen addiction?

Therapy could be effective if you have trouble with hallucinogenic dependency. Certified health counselors can provide a person with advice on how to beat their addiction and provide them with proper addiction treatment education. The best way to treat this sort of substance abuse is to find an addiction recovery center that is within your budget and go through the rehabilitation process. Addiction is not an easy thing to admit, but it’s necessary if recovery is desired. 

The recovery process can be scary, but you’ll never want to look back once you realize the kind of life you can live outside of addiction. Hallucinogens, and any drug for that matter, can be highly addictive. The euphoria that a person experiences while on these kinds of substances can be extremely tantalizing and desirable. This is exactly how addiction starts. Once a person becomes addicted, it can be hard to break free from the altered reality they have experienced. However, recovery is possible.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.