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Common Hallucinogens of Abuse for Teens


teenage girl hallucinating

Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that cause hallucinations. Hallucinations are intense reality distortions experienced by an individual. This, for example, can result in an individual seeing images, feeling sensations and/ or hearing sounds that seem real but do not exist. Hallucinogens are typically divided into two categories: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) lists the following substances as the most commonly known classic hallucinogens:

  • LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Peyote (Mescaline)
  • Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimenthyltryptamine)
  • DMT (Dimethyltryptamine)
  • Ayahuasca

The most commonly known dissociative drugs, according to the NIH, include:

  • Ketamine
  • PCP (Phencyclidine)
  • Salvia divinorum
  • DXM (Dextromethorphan)

Hallucinogens can be found in mushrooms, some plants, and can also be man-made. Research suggests that hallucinogens work by temporarily interrupting communication between one’s neurotransmitters that regulate one’s basic functions (e.g. body temperature, muscle control, sensory perception) in addition to the regulation of one’s mood, sexual behavior, hunger, and sleep. When an individual has ingested hallucinogens he or she may experience unpredictable mood swings, as well as hallucinations.

Symptoms of Abuse

Similar to the symptoms that can occur when abusing other drugs, a tolerance for hallucinogens can develop quickly, which requires the teenager to ingest increased amounts of the drug to achieve the same desired effect. Some of the possible symptoms of hallucinogen abuse could include any combination of the following, as provided by Longleaf Hospital:

  • Pupil dilation
  • Alterations in mood
  • Changes in the senses
  • Feeling detached from one’s body
  • Nausea
  • Changes in one’s body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Delusions 

Some teenagers struggling with hallucinogen abuse could present with all of the above examples, whereas others may present with only a few. 

Short-Term Effects

There are many shot-term effects a teenager could experience when he or she ingests hallucinogens. Some examples of possible effects include any combination of the following, as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  • Changes in sense or perception of time 
  • The mixing of one’s senses (e.g. hearing colors or seeing sounds)
  • Increased energy 
  • Intensified sensory experiences 
  • Nausea
  • Intensified feelings
  • Visual hallucinations 
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tactile hallucinations 
  • Auditory delusions

These effects will differ from teen to teen. Some young people that abuse hallucinogens will experience many of the above effects and some few; it all depends on the teenager and the hallucinogen abused. 

Long-Term Effects

There are many possible long-term effects that can manifest from habitual abuse of hallucinogens. Some examples, as provided by the SAMHSA, include the following: 

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Visual disturbances
  • HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder)
  • Mood disturbances
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Psychosis
  • Symptoms that are commonly mistaken for neurological disorders (e.g. a brain tumor or a stroke)

Since each teenager is unique, the long-term effects of hallucinogen abuse will vary. The severity and possible permanence of the long-term effects will depend not only on the teenager, but also on the type of hallucinogen abused, length of abuse and quantity abused. 

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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