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Common Characteristics of Psychedelic Drugs

Psychedelic drugs have 'out of this world' effects on users' senses and emotions as well as on the way they perceive their environment.
effects of psychedelics

Psychedelics alter the way users perceive their immediate environment.

Of all the types of psychoactive drugs a person can take, psychedelic drugs stand in a class all their own when it comes to creating “out of this world” effects. Psychedelic drugs exist as part of a wider class of drugs known as hallucinogens. As a group, psychedelic drugs work by altering the brain’s cognition and perception functions.

While several different drugs fall in the psychedelic category, most all of them produce similar effects. Heightened sensory perceptions, emotional extremes and the influence one’s immediate environment can have on a drug’s effects are all common characteristics of psychedelic drugs.

Psychedelic Drugs

While all psychedelic drugs affect the brain’s cognition and perception functions, the two main categories of psychedelics – dissociatives and deliriants – affect these functions in different ways. Dissociative drugs cause the mind to detach or disassociate from reality, producing hallucinogenic effects in the process. Deliriant drugs tend to create confusion in the mind of the user to the point where a state of delirium takes hold.

For both categories of drugs, users experience non-ordinary forms of consciousness that somewhat resemble dream-states. Examples of psychedelic drugs include:

  • LSD
  • Cacti
  • Magic Mushroom
  • Cannabis
  • Ecstasy
  • Morning Glory Seeds

Sensory Effects

Heightened sensory awareness is another common characteristic of psychedelic drugs. Sensory perceptions become more acute, producing vivid colors, rich textures and resonant sounds. A person may also experience a heightened awareness of his or her body in terms of being able to feel or “experience” different body parts.

In many instances, altered visual perceptions create distorted shapes and forms when looking at inanimate objects. Users may also feel as if they can “see sounds” and “hear colors.” This acute sensory awareness is also known to produce a feeling of time slowing down or standing still.

Emotional Effects

Psychedelic drugs can produce such heightened emotional effects as to make the sensory experience pale in comparison. Users become extremely sensitive to others’ facial expressions and gestures. Emotional experiences become magnified, taking on great significance in the mind of the user.

A person can experience feelings of extreme joy, love, anger, lust or terror depending on his or her overall mood when using. It’s also not uncommon for someone to experience two completely different emotions, such as anger and joy at the same time. A person may feel completely open and close with others or else feel totally detached and repulsed by them.

Environmental Influences

Psychedelic drug effects can vary depending on the type of environment in which a person uses. According to Columbia Health, environmental influences can further be exacerbated by the user’s mood state and overall expectations regarding the drug experience. For example, a first-time user who takes psychedelics within a noisy or busy environment may experience feelings of extreme anxiety. Likewise, someone who’s skittish about trying the drug may also experience anxiety effects.

People suffering from depression, paranoia and anxiety symptoms are likely to have what’s known as a “bad trip” from the drug’s effects. Bad trips can easily escalate into violent displays induced by feelings of panic and a loss of control.

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