Hallucinogenic substances are characterized by their ability to cause changes in a person's perception of reality. Persons using hallucinogenic drugs often report seeing images, hearing sounds, and feeling sensations that seem real, but do not exist. In the past, plants and fungi that contained hallucinogenic substances were abused. Currently, these hallucinogenic substances are produced synthetically to provide a higher potency.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is one of the major drugs making up the hallucinogen class of drugs. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.
PCP (phencyclidine) was developed in the 1950s as an intravenous anesthetic, but its use in humans was discontinued in 1965, because patients often became agitated, delusional, and irrational while recovering from its anesthetic effects. PCP is now being illegally manufactured in laboratories. It is a white crystalline powder that is readily soluble in water or alcohol. It has a distinctive bitter chemical taste. PCP can be mixed easily with dyes and turns up on the illicit drug market in a variety of tablets, capsules, and colored powders. It can be snorted, smoked, or ingested. For smoking, PCP is often applied to a leafy material such as mint, parsley, oregano, or marijuana.
Mushrooms (Psilocybin) are obtained from certain mushrooms found in South America, Mexico, and the U.S, although the substance can also be produced synthetically. Mushrooms containing psilocybin are available fresh or dried with long, narrow stems topped by caps with dark gills on the underside. These mushrooms are usually ingested orally, but can also be brewed in a tea or added to food to mask the bitter flavor. Once ingested, psilocybin is broken down in the user's body to produce psilocyn, another hallucinogenic substance.
Mescaline is the active hallucinogenic ingredient in peyote. Peyote is a small, spineless cactus historically used by natives in Mexico and the southwestern U.S. as part of religious rites. Mescaline can also be produced synthetically.
Salvia is a sprawling perennial herb found in the Sierra Mazatec region of Mexico. It's leaves contain the extremely potent Salvinorin A. It has a history of buccal use as a divinatory psychedelic, and has been widely available since the mid 1990s primarily as a smoked herb. Its effects are considered unpleasant by many people.