Why do people take them?

Psychedelic drugs have been around for a long time, from ancient cultures to modern times. They are known by different names and used in different ways across cultures, but they all share one thing in common: They alter consciousness.

The word “psychedelic” originates from the Ancient Greek word “psyche” which means mind or soul, and the suffix “delic’ meaning pleasing or euphoric. Psychedelics have been used for thousands of years in various cultures as a way to experience altered states of consciousness – which often included dimensional travel, out-of-body experiences, and glimpses into other realities. Some people even believe that some ancient sacred practices were psychedelic in nature!

From Ayahuasca ceremonies to psilocybin-containing tea brews, many ancient cultures continue to use psychedelics today in modern society.

History of Psychedelic Drugs

The history of psychedelic drugs dates back thousands of years to the beginning of human civilization. In the Western world, psychedelic drugs have been used primarily as tools of exploration and self-discovery. Through exploration, it has been shown that psychedelics might be used as a way to better understand one’s self and the world around them. In many cases, psychedelic experiences can dramatically alter the user’s perspective on reality and often open up new ways of thinking. As a result, many people believe that psychedelic experiences can provide valuable insights into their own lives, guiding the user towards a more fulfilling and meaningful existence.

What is a Psychedelic Drug?

A psychedelic drug is a substance that induces altered states of consciousness, ranging from altered perceptions, feelings, and thoughts. Psychedelics are used across many cultures and subcultures and have been used in religious and sacramental contexts. A notable example is the use of psychedelics in the healing and sacramental practices of indigenous cultures.

Psychedelics are part of a class of drugs called “hallucinogenic drugs”. Hallucinogenic refers to the altered perceptions that psychedelics create, as opposed to “depressive” (despair-inducing) or “anxiety”-inducing (fear-inducing) properties that are often associated with other classes of drugs.

Hallucinogenic and Dissociative Drugs

Many psychedelic drugs alter the user’s perception of reality in significant ways, from altering internal and external hallucinations to transporting the user into other dimensions. Many drugs in this category also produce a state of dissociation or detachment from reality. Some hallucinogenic drugs create vivid visual hallucinations, but many other hallucinogenic drugs also produce a sense of detachment from reality. Dissociative drugs, such as ketamine, often result in a sense of detachment from the environment and a sense of floating or being detached from one’s self.

MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)

MDMA, often referred to by the former street name “Molly”, is a synthetic drug that is often compared to LSD. What sets it apart from many other psychedelic drugs is that it produces feelings of empathy and closeness with others, making it a popular party drug. It is also used as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

MDMA comes in many forms, with varying doses and purity. It is often sold as a white powder that can be snorted, absorbed through the lining of the nose, or ingested orally. MDMA and related amphetamine-like drugs have been in use since the 1910s, initially as a therapy for severe depression. However, during the 1960s and 1970s, widespread use as a party drug emerged, particularly in the US. The drug saw an explosion of popularity in the rave culture of the 1980s and 1990s, where it was often referred to as “ecstasy”.

In recent years, however, the drug has seen a decline in popularity due to the emergence of more harmful and unregulated substances, such as PMA, which is often sold as MDMA, as well as increasing public awareness of the potential harmful effects of MDMA.

Mescaline (CAS RN: 20-Methoxy-N,N-Diethyltryptamine)

Mescaline, also known as “peyote”, is a psychoactive alkaloid found in several species of cactus, including the “peyote” (Lophophora williamsii). Traditionally, peyote has been used for religious and cultural ceremonies by indigenous Americans, with the most popular being the Native American Church and the Huichol people of Mexico.

The effects of peyote use vary based on the type of mescaline ingested and the manner in which it is ingested, such as through ingestion of mescaline-containing cactus or smoking mescaline-containing leaves. Most commonly, mescaline is ingested orally as a white powder, with the effects coming on within an hour and lasting for up to 12 hours. Mescaline is usually taken in conjunction with other psychoactive drugs, such as psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and cannabis. Participants are encouraged to consume all these substances together in a single ceremony, known as a “cactus tea”.

Psilocybin and Derivatives

Psilocybin is the active ingredient that makes magic mushrooms (also known as “shrooms” or “golden caps”) psychedelic. Psilocybin is also a possible treatment for depression, as it allows people to tap into the same brain circuits that are activated during mystical experiences.

Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin as well as several other alkaloids that may have therapeutic benefits, but the most notable is psilocybin itself, which is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and produces intense hallucinogenic effects. Psilocybin and other compounds found in magic mushrooms are classified as controlled substances in many countries. However, some countries allow for the use of psilocybin for medical purposes, with some studies suggesting it may have potential as a treatment for tobacco addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and treatment-resistant depression.

LSD and its Analogues

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), a synthetic psychedelic drug, is perhaps the most widely known and studied psychedelic drug in history. LSD produces powerful visions and strong changes in perception – similar to those experienced during a psychedelic experience with psilocybin – but the effects are often much more complex and longer-lasting than those of psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

LSD is a synthetic compound that is used for treating various disorders, such as alcohol dependence and anxiety disorders. However, LSD is most commonly used as a recreational drug, often referred to as “acid” or “ludes”. Many people believe that LSD is a fairly safe drug, but research is still ongoing to determine the long-term effects of LSD use.

Ibogaine and Its Derivatives

Ibogaine is a naturally-occurring psychedelic found in the roots of many African plants. Ibogaine is structurally similar to LSD, but with a carbonyl group (CO) instead of hydrogen (H) in place of a double bond. It was first discovered in the 1960s in the Central African Republic and was used as an anesthetic in the 1960s and 1970s, as a hallucinogen in the 1980s and 1990s, and as a treatment for drug addiction in the 2000s.

Ibogaine is currently used for various non-medical purposes such as “detoxifying” addicts and helping people overcome their fear of death. Ibogaine has many effects that are similar to LSD, such as an altered state of consciousness and increased sociability, but with fewer visuals and a shorter duration. Although ibogaine has been used in many cultures for thousands of years, it has only recently received much attention in the West due to its promising therapeutic effects and low risk of harm.

Ketamine and Anesthetic Probes

Ketamine is an anesthetic used in many veterinary clinics. In recent years, it has been used as a recreational drug, and is known as “Special K” or “Super K”. Ketamine is structurally similar to PCP (phencyclidine) and has many similar effects on the brain, including increased feelings of euphoria and hallucinations. Some people also report increased feelings of empathy, sensations of reality distortion and a sense of being disconnected from one’s body. Ketamine acts as a quicker, weaker version of PCP, and is structurally similar to psychedelics, so it shares many of the same effects such as altered states of consciousness, altered perceptions of reality, and the feeling of being separated from one’s body.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Scientists are constantly trying to find new ways to synthesize cannabinoids, which are naturally occurring chemicals found in cannabis. The cannabinoid receptors in the brain are thought to play an important role in human emotion and behaviour, and scientists are trying to find new compounds that bind to these receptors in order to find new treatments for mood disorders and other conditions. Scientists are also trying to find synthetic cannabinoids that don’t have the same harmful side effects as the cannabinoids in cannabis, such as causing mental illnesses like schizophrenia and psychosis.


Psychedelics are a fascinating class of drugs that have been used across cultures for thousands of years as a way to alter consciousness. These drugs are often dangerous, but they are also believed by many to be very valuable in helping people gain access to other realities and understand themselves better.

Nevertheless there are innumerable documented cases of users suffering severe mental disorders as a result of experimenting with these drugs, and long term use can have devastating consequences. If, despite this, you’d like to try them for yourself, make sure you know how to use them safely.