What are psychedelics?

Psychedelics (also known as hallucinogens) are a class of psychoactive substances that produce changes in perception, mood and cognitive processes.

  • Psychedelics affect all the senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time and emotions. They can also cause a person to hallucinate—seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted.

There are many different kinds of psychedelics. Some occur naturally, in trees, vines, seeds, fungi and leaves. Others are made in laboratories.

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How are they used?

Since ancient times, psychedelics have been used by various cultures throughout the world for their mystical and spiritual associations. LSD, magic mushrooms, Mescaline and DMT are usually swallowed, smoked or inhaled. Mushrooms are usually eaten fresh, cooked or brewed into a ‘tea’.

  • it can be smoked, ground into powder, chewed, soaked and swallowed
  • Generally, people who use psychedelics don’t take them regularly, but on occasions that may be weeks or months apart, unless the person is addicted to psychedelics.

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There is no safe level of drug use. The use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Psychedelics affect everyone differently, based on:

  • size, weight and health
  • whether the person is used to taking it
  • whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • the amount taken
  • the strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch).

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Effects of psychedelics

The effects of psychedelics can last several hours and vary considerably, depending on the specific type of psychedelic.

The following may be experienced during this time: feelings of euphoria

  • sense of relaxation and wellbeing
  • seeing and hearing things that aren’t there
  • confusion and trouble concentrating
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • clumsiness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • breathing quickly
  • vomiting
  • sweating and chills
  • numbness.

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Bad trips

Sometimes you can experience a ‘bad trip’, which is frightening and disturbing hallucinations.

  • This can lead to panic and unpredictable behaviour, like running across a road or attempting suicide.
  • If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you are likely to experience the negative effects of psychedelics.

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Flashbacks

The most common long-term effect of psychedelic use is the ‘flashback’. Flashbacks are a re-experience of the drug and can occur days, weeks, months and even years later.

  • Flashbacks can be triggered by the use of other drugs or by stress, fatigue or physical exercise. The flashback experience can range from being pleasant to causing severe feelings of anxiety. They are usually visual and last for a minute or two.

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Using psychedelics with other drugs

The effects of mixing psychedelics with other drugs, including alcohol, prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines, are often unpredictable.

  • Mixing psychedelics with stimulant drugs increases the stimulant effects and can further increase heart rate and place the body under extreme stress. Stimulants can also increase anxiety which can lead to a negative experience.
  • Combing psychedelics with depressant drugs such as alcohol may further reduce coordination and increases the chances of vomiting. Alcohol may also decrease the effects of the psychedelic.

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