Psychedelic Drugs: Complete Guide

Psychedelic Drugs Complete Guide
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People partying through the eyes of someone on psychedelics.

Psychedelic drugs can have serious short-term and long-term mental, emotional, and physical effects. From their rise in popularity in the 1960s to today, psychedelic drugs are often misunderstood by the general public.

If you’re looking to learn more about psychedelic drugs, where they come from, and the consequences of using them, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our complete guide to psychedelic drugs, treatment, and recovery.

What Are Psychedelic Drugs?

Psychedelic drugs are a type of substance known to enhance the senses, alter thought and energy levels, and produce spiritual experiences in users. Also referred to as hallucinogens, there are many drugs that fall under this category, including LSD and peyote.

These drugs were used for psychotherapy purposes for a short time in the 1960s until laws were passed banning the use of psychedelic drugs for this purpose. There has been a recent revival in the research of psychedelic drugs as therapy, but most of these drugs are still considered illegal and are used mainly for recreational purposes.

Psychedelic Drug List

There are many forms of psychedelic drugs, each with its own unique effects on the brain. Some psychedelic drugs are naturally occurring, while others are chemically produced. Some of today’s most common forms of psychedelic drugs include:

  • LSD (acid): Lysergic acid diethylamide is derived from ergot, which is a type of mold that develops on rye grain. This drug was commonly used in the 1960s until it was deemed illegal by federal law.
  • DMT: Dimethyltryptamine is a plant-based drug that naturally occurs in the bark of specific trees growing in South and Central America. DMT produces a shorter “trip” than other psychedelics, lasting about an hour.
  • Morning glory seeds: Also known as ololiuqui, morning glory seeds are another natural form of psychedelics found in morning glory flowers. Consuming these seeds can often lead to nausea, headache, and other unwanted effects.
  • Psilocybin: Given the nickname “magic mushrooms,” psilocybin naturally occurs in some types of fungi that grow around the globe. Some magic mushrooms contain a high level of toxins and can be lethal.
  • MDMA: Ecstasy or MDMA has a milder effect in comparison to other hallucinogens. Though it can provide mood-boosting and stimulating effects, it can also cause a “bad trip” or cause the user to overheat or become dehydrated.
  • Mescaline: More commonly known as peyote, mescaline is another natural psychedelic drug that grows in some types of cactus. Though federal law bans the use of peyote, there is an exception for the Native American Church, which uses the drug for religious ceremonies. 

Legal Psychedelic Drugs

Psychedelic drugs are not legal in the United States. Federal law classifies all psychedelics as Schedule I controlled substances, including LSD, mescaline, MDMA, and more. 

Though psychedelics are banned by federal law, a movement to decriminalize psychedelic drugs started gaining momentum around 2019.

Denver was the first city to legalize substances like magic mushrooms in May 2019, with a few cities following suit—including Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use in November 2020.

Man holding nurse's hand after being hospitalized from psychedelics.

List of Natural Psychedelic Drugs

Natural hallucinogens can be found growing in trees, mushrooms, and other plants throughout the world. These drugs are often smoked, eaten, or boiled into tea. Here are some of the most well-known natural psychedelic drugs:

  • DMT: Derived from the bark and nuts of trees in South and Central America
  • Morning glory seeds: Found in morning glory flowers
  • Psilocybin: Naturally occurring in certain types of fungi
  • Mescaline: Found in peyote cactus
  • Salvia divinorum: Derived from the mint family

Psychedelic Drugs Effects on the Brain

Hallucinogens have an almost immediate effect on the brain, altering both the sensory and physical experience of the user.

Here are some of the most common short-term effects of psychedelic drugs:

  • Hallucinations, or the seeing and hearing of things that do not exist in reality
  • Greater sensory experiences (Louder noises, brighter colors, and more)
  • Swapping senses (The perception of “tasting” a color or “seeing” a sound)
  • Altered perception of time (Time may pass very slowly or seem to speed up)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Boosted energy levels
  • Feelings of nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Appetite loss
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Excessive sweating
  • Feelings of fear and/or euphoria
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Feelings of agitation

Young woman experiencing the side effects of psychedelics.

Long-Term Effects of Psychedelic Drugs

Those who are using or interested in trying psychedelic drugs should be aware that there are many negative long-term effects on the brain.

Those who frequently use psychedelic drugs like LSD may develop a high tolerance for the drug, meaning that a larger dose is necessary to create the same hallucinatory effects. Using one type of psychedelic drug can even create a higher tolerance for other drugs in the same category. However, this tolerance usually diminishes if the user stops taking the drugs for a short time.

Regular psychedelic users may also experience ongoing psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). However, more research is required to establish the long-term effects of most psychedelic drugs.

Ongoing Psychosis

While occasional use of psychedelic drugs may alter the brain for 1-12 hours, regular use can lead to persistent psychosis. This means the user experienced frequent disturbing visual images in their mind, ongoing paranoia, and mood swings. Those suffering from psychosis may also suffer from disjointed, disorganized thought patterns.


Similar to psychosis, HPPD can lead to seeing disturbing images in the mind, like halos around objects, trails attached to moving objects, and more. People experiencing HPPD may frequently hallucinate or suffer from issues that resemble neurological disorders.

Get Psychedelic Drug Treatment Today

Person getting hug and support for their treatment of drug addiction.

If you or someone you know is suffering from the long-term effects of psychedelic drugs, Pinnacle Treatment Centers can help. We understand the challenges of drug addiction and have developed a recovery process that is built to last.

Our empathetic approach to recovery allows patients to have the much-needed support required for this difficult journey. Contact us today for more information on how we can help with psychedelic drug recovery and treatment.

The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.