Psychedelic Drugs: Types, Side Effects & How They Work

Psychedelic Drugs Tripping

Psychedelic drugs, also known as hallucinogenic drugs, while not as common as cannabis, and not as addictive or dangerous as cocaine or heroin, are still a major factor on our streets and in the fight against drug addiction.

If you are suffering with drug abuse, contact us to see how we can help you. Rehab or detoxing are usually the most recommended action.

What Are Psychedelic Drugs?

Psychedelic drugs are named so because they have an effect on our consciousness.

Being under the influence of psychedelic drugs can lead to enhanced sensory perceptions, hallucinations, and even a complete, temporary detachment from reality.

They are most commonly used recreationally, for example, to facilitate spiritual experiences, or as a part of rituals, but have also been used for medical purposes throughout history, for example as a part of psychotherapy in the 1960s.

In recent years, interest in medical uses for psychedelics has returned, with micro-dosing both LSD and psilocybin mushrooms growing in popularity despite more research being needed.

Unlike other recreational drugs, most psychedelic drugs aren’t particularly addictive.

Whereas recreational cocaine use often looks like somebody binge drinking alcohol and large amounts of cocaine while out on a wild night, leading to ongoing addiction and other difficulties.

Recreational psychedelic use often consists of people hallucinating at home for a period of time and then returning to their regular lives without much craving to continue use and almost no chance of mental issues.

Despite this, the risks associated with psychedelics are still present, not least due to the effects on our perception.

Also, despite an addiction to psychedelics being rare, new designer drugs and different substances being mixed together mean addiction is possible and you can never be 100% certain you aren’t taking something that will cause you issues down the line.

How Psychedelic Drugs Work

Since there are many different psychedelic drugs, there are, of course, many different ways in which they work.

However, these can often be grouped together into different types of hallucinogenic effect, many of which share similarities in how they work.

For example, LSD and magic mushrooms have a very similar effect on the brain since they are both chemically similar to serotonin, a neurotransmitter found within the human brain.

In general, hallucinogens work by either encouraging or suppressing the activity of the brain’s neurotransmitters they are most similar to (serotonin in the case of LSD and mushrooms, but not always).

The effects vary drastically depending on the user’s history taking psychedelics, mood and set on taking them, and many other factors.

The effects of LSD can last up to 12 hours, whereas DMT only lasts around an hour but can be much more intense.

People who take psychedelic drugs typically experience:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • “The giggles” or uncontrollable laughing

In the best-case scenario, this is all that will be experienced, but in some cases panic attacks or fear can arise, leading to the hallucinations taking a negative turn.

This is known as a ‘bad trip’ and is thought to be caused when somebody who’s very stressed, scared, or otherwise in a negative mood takes psychedelics.

Side Effects of Psychedelic Drugs

Confusion from Psychedelic Drugs

Outside of the above-listed psychedelic drugs effects, hallucinations can also occasionally have some less expected side effects such as:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Spiritual experiences or a sense of “higher purpose”
  • Feelings of relaxation or even lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dry mouth and temporary loss of appetite

Types of Psychedelic Drugs

While LSD and magic mushrooms are by far the most well-known and commonly experienced hallucinogens, there are plenty of other types out there. Here is a psychedelic drug’s list to help you get to grip with the differences:

LSD or Acid

A manufactured, or chemically synthesized psychedelic drug, LSD was extremely popular in the 1960s while legal. Now illegal, the drug is still fairly popular and can be found in use globally, often the drug of choice for people who want to experience a “trip” for themselves.

Magic Mushrooms/Psilocybin

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring hallucinogen that can be found in certain species of fungi known as “magic mushrooms”.

They are illegal in most countries, however, this law is extremely difficult to enforce since they grow naturally and can often be found in damp fields and hilltops.

This easy way of accumulating psychedelic drugs makes them extremely popular with younger users and teenagers.

However, there are multiple different types of magic mushrooms with varying levels of psilocybin and varying levels of toxicity.

This, combined with the fact that some of them look quite similar to some poisonous mushrooms, makes picking your own magic mushrooms an extremely dangerous activity.


DMT, or Dimethyltryptamine, is a naturally occurring psychedelic found in certain plants and trees in Central & South America.

It creates a much more intense experience than LSD, but also a shorter-lived one that typically only lasts around an hour.

DMT is popular with tribes in South America who use it for spiritual rituals and has also found popularity with tourists to the area who are looking for their own spiritual experiences.


Ololiuqui is found in the seeds of the flower known as morning glory. It creates a strong hallucinatory experience similar to LSD, although which much more common side effects, often including nausea and vomiting.


Ecstasy is more commonly regarded as a stimulant and used as a party drug. It also has much more potential for addiction than the other drugs listed here.

Despite this, it does have some psychedelic effects and can lead to hallucinations and delusions, especially when higher quantities are used.


Mescaline is a naturally occurring substance in cacti native to the United States, Mexico & South America, and has been commonly used in Native American religious ceremonies.

The effects of using mescaline are similar to those of LSD, and while mescaline is less popular nowadays, it has been in use for at least 6,000 years.

Find out about legal highs, the effects, symptoms and treatment.

Help for Psychedelic Drug Use

Whereas magic mushrooms and LSD aren’t addictive in the same way heroin or cocaine are, they can still be habit-forming and can have serious effects on a user’s life.

Other potentially psychedelic drugs such as ecstasy also do have strong addiction potential and can lead to serious issues.

If you are struggling with psychedelic use, or believe a loved one may be, why not contact us now on 0800 118 2892?

Our friendly, expert team are waiting to help you get your life back under control!

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