Addiction to Psychedelic and Hallucinogenic Drugs

Psychedelic drugs are substances that alter the state of mind and are commonly only associated with “magic mushrooms” and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). However, other drugs that are considered psychedelics outside of these; these include phencyclidine (PCP), mescaline and ketamine. Additionally, numerous designer drugs could have unknown psychedelic effects.

According to research on psychedelics from 2021, all psychedelic drugs are classified as serotonergic hallucinogens. This tells us that they attach to particular receptors and induce a specific reaction. Psilocybin — a substance found in mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe and N,N-dimethyltryptamine, as well as the herbal beverage ayahuasca. “Magic mushrooms” and ayahuasca are, therefore, two examples of serotonergic hallucinogens that can be found in the natural world. 

There is also a world of psychedelic drugs that aren’t natural; other drugs that trigger psychedelic effects that are completely synthetic, such as LSD and SMT. Additional synthetic drugs, including PCP and ketamine, have become increasingly popular in certain clubbing scenes — and are now the centre of a prevalent subculture.

Common Psychedelic and Hallucinogenic Drugs

  • LSD is a potent drug that is commonly consumed as little squares of blotting paper or gelatin saturated in LSD liquid. 
  • Magic mushrooms can be consumed raw or heated and made into a beverage. 
  • PCP is typically available as tablets, capsules or powders in an assortment of colours. It’s normally swallowed or snorted in powder form or may be smoked. 
  • Ketamine might be dispersed within a liquid or formed into tablets or capsules. Usually, it is snorted or ingested, but it can also be injected.
  • Mescaline comes as a white powder and may also be put into capsules. In general, it is ingested. However, it may also be smoked.
  • Ayahuasca is a psychedelic beverage made from plants.

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Psychedelic and Hallucinogenic Drug Street Names

  • Acid
  • Dots
  • Lucy
  • Paper mushrooms
  • Magic mushrooms
  • Special K
  • Super K
  • Angel dust
  • Peace pills.

Effects of Psychedelic and Hallucinogenic Drugs

On average, following the consumption of psychedelic drugs, it takes between twenty minutes and two hours before the effects take hold, and they will typically continue for between six and twelve hours. 

Physical signs of use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Fast heart rate
  • Nausea 
  • Spasms and convulsions.

Common behaviour associated with psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs include:

  • Alterations in cognition or reasoning
  • Hallucinations. Thess are primarily visual but can also be auditory
  • Joyful mood or euphoria
  • Altered self-consciousness
  • Changes in the ability to measure the progression of time.

Call 999 if you or another person experiences spasms or convulsions, breathing problems, rapid heartbeat or a significant disoriented and confused state after using psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs. 

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction to Psychedelic Drugs

In broad terms, psychedelic drugs do not cause addiction. Nevertheless, tolerance is possible with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Because of this tolerance, over time, a person might need to take greater amounts to get the same result, so it’s prudent to know the signs of usage to help prevent or stop this. 

You can also look out for the following warning signs indicating use of psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs:

  • Frequent strange behaviour is common. Time and space are distorted by psychedelic drugs, and sensory stimulation is appreciated more. 

  • Avoiding family and friends

  • Financial difficulties

  • Skipping work or school

  • Lack of enthusiasm for recreational interests.

  • Having little willpower regarding the amount they consume, regardless of psychological or physical addiction — this is a recognised characteristic of addiction.

Psychedelics Drugs Addiction Treatment

You can get therapy and treatment for addiction in an outpatient facility or in an inpatient rehabilitation programme. The benefit of residential rehab is that people aren’t able to access psychedelics or other illicit drugs, allowing them to focus exclusively on recovering from their addiction. 

A stay in a residential rehab facility will involve regular counselling and therapy sessions, mixed with recreational activities, in order to assist the establishment of unfamiliar behavioural routines. This will begin after a medical detox if one is necessary.

NHS addiction treatment is available, but it is generally offered on an outpatient basis. You must fulfill stringent eligibility conditions in order to be able to receive funding from the NHS residential therapy. 

It can also be important to note that psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs are especially dangerous if you have a pre-existing mental health condition. If you are seeking psychedelic drug addiction treatment, it’s important to advise the facility if you have been diagnosed with any type of mental health condition to ensure you receive concurrent treatment. 

At The Lighthouse residential rehab in Essex, we provide treatment for addiction to psychedelic drugs. Should a room become available, one of our treatment team could potentially arrange for same-day admission. Please complete our online assessment form or call our team at 0800 170 1222 for free, individualised assistance.

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Long-Term Effects of Psychedelic and Hallucinogenic Drugs

The condition known as hallucinogen persistent perception disorder (HPPD) is one long-term effect of using these sorts of drugs. Generally referred to as “flashbacks”, they often occur suddenly and can lead to experiencing sudden bouts of visual or auditory hallucinations. These may only occur in a short time frame after using a psychedelic, but could also happen days, weeks, months or even years after using drugs with psychedelic properties. These sudden “flashbacks” often produce a great deal of mental or physical impairment. 

Another serious consequence of psychedelic drug use is prolonged psychosis, with symptoms that can include:

  • Chaotic thinking 
  • Fluctuations in mood
  • Paranoia
  • Visual disturbances.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Psychedelic Drugs

There is a detox period directly following the use of both dissociative and classical hallucinogens. A person that’s “coming down” from a hallucinogenic substance may feel uneasy, exhausted or agitated. However, they are not classed as withdrawal symptoms, and most of the time will pass within a few hours without causing significant issues.

However, withdrawal symptoms are linked to the drug phencyclidine (PCP) and other dissociative hallucinogens and include:

  • Anxiety 
  • Low mood and depression
  • Paranoia 
  • Persistent confusion or a dissociative sensation
  • Panic attacks.

The severity of these adverse effects will depend on a number of variables, including the amount used, how long it was used for, your age and mental and physical condition. 

At Step by Step Recovery, we offer compassionate support to enable people to overcome addiction successfully. If you require advice, please fill out our online assessment form or contact our supportive team at no cost for non-judgmental guidance about addiction treatment options to choose from at 0800 170 1222.

Psychedelic Drugs FAQ

Different types of psychedelic drugs have various windows for detection. However, most are not traceable after 30 hours of the last use. One known exception to this is PCP, which can be detected for 15 days after usage.

While hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs may be regarded as relatively safe and not particularly harmful, there is still potential for a number of serious long-term risks, including:


  • Liver damage and liver disease
  • Trigger heart conditions
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Paranoia and psychosis.

Under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (PSA), it’s illegal to use these drugs, and penalties for possession can be a prison sentence and, or a fine. Here’s an outline of how some psychedelic drugs are classified: 

  • Magic mushrooms, LCD and PCP, are classified as Class A substances 
  • Ketamine is a Class B substance
  • Designer drugs can be Class A, B, or C or may be unregulated.

Providing anyone else with these drugs, even for free, could result in a life sentence.

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Page revised in March 2023, by Danielle Byatt, a Level 4 addictions counselling, Level 5 in Leadership & Management, BA applied social work. and Treatment Director at Step by Step Recovery.

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