Hallucinogens, also known as “psychedelic” drugs, change how a person perceives the world. Hallucinogens markedly affect all the senses and cause hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted. A person’s thinking, sense of time and emotions can also be altered.
There are many different kinds of hallucinogens. Some occur naturally, in trees, vines, seeds, fungi and leaves; others are made in laboratories. Hallucinogens include LSD, Magic Mushrooms, mescaline, PCP (phencyclidine), cannabis (in high quantities) and Ecstasy.
Naturally occurring hallucinogens have been used since ancient times by various cultures throughout the world, particularly North and South American Indians, for their mystical and spiritual associations. They became fashionable in America and Europe in the 1960s. Very few people use hallucinogens today.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide – Acid or Trips) is one of the most commonly used hallucinogens in New Zealand. During the 1960s LSD became the hippies’ drug of choice. Since then its use has declined, but there is some recent evidence of increased popularity.
In its pure state, LSD is a white, odourless powder. It usually comes in the form of liquid, tablets or capsules, squares of gelatine or blotting paper. LSD can be swallowed, sniffed, injected or smoked. It is very potent: small amounts cause strong effects. For easier handling, LSD is often diluted with another substance, such as sugar, or soaked onto sheets of blotting paper.