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As the name suggests, hallucinogens are a category of drug that causes hallucinations or sensations that seem real but are not. They can also affect your thoughts and feelings and how aware you are of your surroundings. They’ve been used for hundreds of years in religious ceremonies, but they are also used recreationally by people seeking to alter their state of mind.

The first thing that probably comes to mind when you hear the word hallucinogen is LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), which is most famous for its use in the 1960s by counterculture groups. It was developed using a type of fungus called ergot, which grows on rye plants and other grains and can itself cause hallucinations, muscle contractions, paralysis, and even death. Interestingly, some scholars believe that ingestion of ergot may have led to the delusions and hysteria that precipitated the Salem Witch Trials.

LSD is not a component of ergot but was synthesized from it in 1938 by a Swiss Scientist named Albert Hofmann, who was trying to create a drug to help during childbirth. Although it proved to not be terribly useful in that regard, it was also studied in the 1950s as a possible treatment for mental illness. LSD was labeled a Schedule I controlled substance by the United Nations in 1971

Today, LSD has a variety of slang names, including acid, blotter, cheer, dots, hit, mellow yellow, L, Lucy, tabs, window pane, yellow sunshine, blue heaven, microdot, and cubes. Most of these nicknames have to do with the way the drug is ingested. Although it does come in pill form, it can also be a liquid that is placed in drops on blotter paper, which is divided into colorful squares called tabs. Each square is one dose, or hit.

Signs that someone may be using LSD include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • High body temperature
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sleep problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Most people take LSD for the sensation of euphoria, spiritual experiences, and a sort of out-of-body experience, but this lack of awareness of one’s surroundings can lead to serious injuries. There have been cases of everything from someone wandering into traffic to a man jumping out of a window because he believed he could fly. LSD may also cause flashbacks, which sometimes can linger for years even after one is no longer ingesting the drug. In one case, a forty-eight-year-old man who had taken LSD in his twenties experienced hallucinations for 25 years. This is called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, and its symptoms included people’s faces appearing to change shape when looked at, changes in the appearance of his own reflection, words moving while reading, vehicles seeming to stretch as they drove past, and problems focusing.

If you or a loved one need help quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.