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Frequently Asked Questions

Hallucinogens

A hallucinogen is a drug or chemical capable of producing hallucinations. A hallucination is a false perception through one of the senses (for example, seeing or hearing something that is not there).

Hallucinogens can be produced naturally or synthetically. LSD, Acid, Mushies, Mescaline, Tabs, Magic Mushrooms and Micro Dots are examples of hallucinogens.

The most commonly known hallucinogen is synthetic lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) which is usually sold on an absorbent tab or small square pieces of paper decorated with popular designs, such as smiley faces and cartoons. It may also be sold on sugar cubes, small squares of gelatine or in capsule, tablet or liquid form.

Natural hallucinogenic chemicals are found in plants such as the peyote cactus (mescaline) and some mushrooms (psilocybin).

Certain drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy may produce hallucinogenic effects at high doses or in other circumstances.

LSD, Acid, Mushies, Mescaline, Tabs, Magic Mushrooms and Micro Dots are examples of hallucinogens.

Hallucinogens are either swallowed or drunk.

There is no safe level of hallucinogen use. The effects of hallucinogens will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

When consuming hallucinogens, a person's perception of reality is affected, which can lead to people placing themselves in risky situations. There are also a range of harms associated with hallucinogen use that can be short-term (such as tension, anxiety, increased heart rare, body temperature and blood pressure) and long-term (such as impaired memory and concentration and psychological dependence). Hallucinogen use can also cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.

Short-term effects of hallucinogens include:

  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increase in body temperature and sweating
  • Seeing things in a distorted way or seeing things that don’t exist
  • Intense sensory experiences, bright colours, sharper sounds
  • Impaired coordination and tremors
  • Distorted sense of time. Minutes can seem like hours
  • Alterations in emotion
  • Distorted sense of space
  • Distorted body image
  • Tension and anxiety leading to panic attacks.

Long-term effects of hallucinogens include:

  • Flashbacks, a spontaneous and unpredictable recurrence of a prior drug experience (tripping) without taking the drug. Flashbacks may occur days, weeks or years after the drug was last taken. They can be triggered by the use of other drugs, stress, fatigue and physical exercise or for no apparent reason
  • Increase risk of developing severe mental disturbances in those who have a predisposition to the condition
  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Tolerance to the drug
  • Psychological dependence.

Hallucinogen use can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.

Regular, heavy hallucinogen use can lead to tolerance and dependence.

Tolerance to hallucinogens develops rapidly but is lost several days after use of the drug is ceased. Cross tolerance (when tolerance to one type of Hallucinogen makes a person tolerant to the effects of other hallucinogens) may also occur.

Depending on what type of hallucinogen is used, it can be detected in blood from 30 minutes after use to 2 days after use, and in urine from 1-5 days after use.

There is no safe level of hallucinogen use. The use of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and other Hallucinogens seems to be linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. There may also be a higher incidence of birth defects among babies born to women using LSD.

It is recommended that women check with their doctor (or other health professional) if they are using or planning to use drugs while pregnant or breastfeeding, including prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.

In Western Australia, it is against the law to possess, manufacture, supply, import or use hallucinogens. Penalties range from a $2,000 fine and/or a two-year prison term to a $100,000 fine and/or imprisonment for 25 years. In addition, a person convicted of a drug offence will acquire a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.

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The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro is held between 29 March and 9 April. Find out more about the Pro here.