As one of the oldest known psychedelic agents known to man, peyote use dates as far back as the Aztec era of Pre-Columbian Mexico when the drug was used during religious ceremonies. Like most hallucinogens, peyote transports users to altered states of consciousness via hallucinations. Peyote differs from other hallucinogens in terms of how real the “drug trip” seems, totally submerging a person within the experience.
While peyote doesn’t carry a high risk for abuse or addiction, it nonetheless causes drastic changes within the brain’s chemical workings. In the case of peyote abuse, these changes can have harmful effects over time. For these reasons, understanding how this drug works can help you take steps to avoid the types of harmful effects that come with peyote abuse.
Peyote exists as a natural psychedelic drug, derived from a spineless cactus of the same name. The actual drug component comes from protrusions or “buttons” that grow on the cactus. According to the University of Maryland, mescaline, an amphetamine-based substance, acts as the principle active compound that produces the drug’s hallucinogenic effects.
On average, three to six peyote buttons contains 300 to 500 milligrams of mescaline, the typical amount ingested at a time. Peyote takes effect within one to two hours and lasts anywhere from 10 to 12 hours. For people engaging in peyote abuse on a regular basis, this duration of effects indicates the length of time the brain’s chemical system remains under the influence of the drug.
Peyote’s “high” effect entails drastic shifts in perception, cognition and emotions brought on by changes in the brain’s neurotransmitter pathways. These effects can vary widely depending on a person’s personality, mood, drug use history, the setting in which the drug is used and the dosage amount ingested.
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A peyote “high” can bring on transcendent-like experiences that submerge users within a seemingly alternate reality of the mind’s making. Vivid and strange shapes, colors and textures give the impression a person can interact with these realities much like he or she interacts in the real world.
As peyote’s effects can vary depending a person’s personality and mood, the “high” experienced can just as easily become horrifying in effect bringing on intense levels of anxiety and fear for the duration of the drug’s effects. The longer a person engages in peyote abuse the more likely he or she will experience the less desirable effects of the drug.
Potential for Developing Mental Illness
Any drug capable of altering the brain’s normal chemical pathways can potentially cause harm in the process. According to Pennsylvania State University, frequent and ongoing peyote abuse places users at risk of developing drug-induced mental illness along the lines of paranoid schizophrenia. In effect, the repeated shifts in consciousness that take place when engaging in peyote abuse have a residual effect on overall brain function and eventually changes the way the brain works over time.
In spite of its low risk for addiction, peyote abuse can woo users into a false sense of security in terms of the feelings of exhilaration that come with a peyote “high.” Over time, peyote abuse can become a form of escape from daily life. Once a pattern of peyote abuse starts to emerge, it’s more difficult to stop or reduce drug use at will.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be caught up in peyote abuse and need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-609-2774 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our phone counselors.