Hallucinogens, or psychedelics, are drugs that affect a person’s perceptions, sensations, thinking, self-awareness and emotions. They produce hallucinations, which can be either pleasurable or frightening. Hallucinogens include such drugs as LSD and mescaline. Some hallucinogens come from natural sources, such as mescaline from the peyote cactus. Others, such as LSD, are synthetic or manufactured.
LSD is manufactured from lysergic acid that is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD was discovered in 1938 and is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. LSD is sold on the street in tablets, capsules, or occasionally in liquid form. It is usually taken by mouth, but sometimes is injected. Often it is added to absorbent paper, such as blotter paper, and divided into small decorated squares, with each square representing one dose.
The effects of psychedelics are unpredictable. It depends on the amount taken, the user’s personality, mood and expectations, and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30-90 minutes after taking it. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth and tremors.
Research has shown some changes in the mental functions of heavy users of LSD, but they are not present in all cases. Heavy users sometime develop signs of organic brain damage, such as impaired memory and attention span, mental confusion, and difficulty with abstract thinking. These signs may be strong or they may be subtle. It is not yet known whether such mental changes are permanent or if they disappear when LSD use is stopped.
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