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Hallucinogens

Brief Description

Hallucinogenic compounds found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) have been used—mostly during religious rituals—for centuries. Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are classified as alkaloids. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of natural neurotransmitters (e.g., acetylcholine-, serotonin-, or catecholamine-like). While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least partially, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites. Learn more

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Statistics and Trends

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Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs for 8th Graders, 10th Graders, and 12th Graders; 2013 (in percent)*
Drug Time Period 8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Hallucinogens Lifetime 2.50 5.40 7.60
Past Year 1.60 3.40 4.50
Past Month 0.80 1.10 1.40
LSD Lifetime 1.40 2.70 3.90
Past Year 1.00 1.70 2.20
Past Month 0.50 0.60 0.80
Ketamine Past Year - - 1.40
PCP Lifetime - - 1.30
Past Year - - 0.70
Past Month - - 0.40
Salvia Past Year 1.20 2.30 [3.40]

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National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs for Ages 12 or Older, Ages 12 to 17, Ages 18 to 25, and Ages 26 or Older; 2012 (in percent)*
Drug Time Period Ages 12 or Older Ages 12 to 17 Ages 18 to 25 Ages 26 or Older
Hallucinogens Lifetime 14.60 3.30 17.60 15.40
Past Year 1.70 2.20 6.50 [0.80]
Past Month 0.40 0.60 1.70 [0.20]
LSD Lifetime 9.10 1.00 5.90 10.70
Past Year 0.40 0.60 1.80 [0.10]
Past Month 0.10 0.10 0.30 0.00
PCP Lifetime 2.50 0.40 1.00 3.00
Past Year 0.10 0.20 0.20 0.00
Past Month 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

Featured Publications

Publication Cover

Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs (Research Reports)

Published March 2001. Revised January 2014. Offers the latest research findings on hallucinogens and dissociative drugs, describing what they are, how they are abused, and basic facts about different drugs within this classification of drugs. En Español

Salvia (DrugFacts)

Revised April 2013. Offers an overview of salvia, an herb common to southern Mexico, Central, and South America. Discusses potential health and behavioral effects resulting from its abuse and the extent of use among youth. En Español

Hallucinogens - LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP (DrugFacts)

Revised June 2009. Provides basic facts about hallucinogens (LSD, peyote, psilocybin, and PCP) including how they are abused, how they affect the brain, other health effects, and treatment options. En Español

Publication Cover

Hallucinogens (Mind Over Matter)

Published January 1997. Revised January 2009. Explains how hallucinogens affect the brain’s communication centers as well as its ability to control sleep and emotions. En Español

Other Resources

Past information on many drugs of abuse is available on our Archives site.

This page was last updated May 2014

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    National Institute of Drug Abuse (2014). Hallucinogens Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/hallucinogens

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    Research Report

    Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Publication

    Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs

    Offers the latest research findings on hallucinogens and dissociative drugs, describing what they are, how they are abused, and basic facts about different drugs within this classification of drugs.

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