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Lsd, Lsd As A Recreational Drug, Mushrooms, Peyote, Other Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are substances that alter the user's thought processes or mood to the extent that he perceives objects or experiences sensations that in fact have no reality. Many natural and some manmade substances have the ability to bring about hallucinations. In fact, because of the ready market for such chemicals, they are manufactured in illegal chemical laboratories for sale as hallucinogens. LSD and many so-called designer drugs have no useful clinical function.

Hallucinogens have long been a component in the religious rites of various cultures, both in the New and Old Worlds. The tribal shaman or medicine man swallowed the hallucinogenic substance or inhaled fumes or smoke from a burning substance to experience hallucinations. They believed that such a state, separated from reality, enabled them to better communicate with the gods or their ancestors. In fact, such rituals remain a central part of life for many peoples whose culture has been handed down from one century to the next. Of course, these hallucinogens were natural substances or derivatives from them. Among the oldest are substances from mushrooms or cactus that have been in use in Native American rites since before recorded time. Some Native American tribes have established the legality of their use of such compounds, which still form a central part of tribal ritual.

In recent years hallucinogens have been discovered and embraced by a subculture that cannot claim tribal history. The so-called Hippies, a movement that burgeoned in the 1960s, adopted hallucinogens as a part of their culture. Artists, poets, and writers of the time believed that the use of hallucinogens enhanced their creative prowess. The use of these substances as recreational drugs resulted in a great number of psychological casualties because of the accumulation of substances in the user's body or because of unforeseen adverse side effects such as "flashbacks," which occurred after the user had ceased using the drug.

True hallucinogens must be differentiated from other, less potent drugs such as the psychedelics. The latter can alter reality to some degree and may in certain circumstances push the user into experiencing hallucinations, but their primary effect is one of inducing euphoria, relaxation, stimulation, relief from pain, or relief from anxiety. Probably the most commonly used of the psychedelics is marijuana, which is available worldwide and constitutes one of the primary illegal money crops in the United States. Opiates such as heroin or morphine, phencyclidine (PCP), and certain tranquilizers such as diazepam (Valium) also can have such a psychedelic effect. These drugs are not considered true hallucinogens, though they remain a substantive part of the drug subculture ecology.

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