Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Introduction to Psychedelic Drugs

A psychedelic compound is, generally speaking, a psychoactive drug whose main action is to alter cognition and perception. Psychedelics are distinct from other psychoactive drugs in that they alter the mind, whereas other drugs like opiates or stimulants alter the mood. Psychedelics affect the nature of consciousness itself and access otherwise unknown states of consciousness, as opposed to affecting the degree or extent of ones consciousness and inducing familiar moods such as happiness, excitement, anxiety or apathy. Also important to note; while compounds such as heroin, morphine, cocaine, or methamphetamine are typically capable of producing addiction and physiological dependence, most psychedelics are not likely to produce either (although we all know that basically anything, including eating food, can lead to psychological or emotional dependence).

The psychedelic class covers a large family and wide spectrum of psychoactive compounds which induce a spectrum of psychedelic effects ranging from trance-like meditative states, to hallucinations, dissociation, and temporary loss or distortion of self-awareness. For this reason, the term "psychedelic" is used in a very broad or generalized context. The psychedelic category consists of multiple specific drug classes, including but not limited to hallucinogens (LSD), deleriants (atropine), empathogens (MDMA), entheogens (peyote), or dissociatives (ketamine).

Psychedelics are typically classified into the following categories, according to the nature of their effects:

Empathogen-Enactogen: Empathy producing agent. Promotes emotional disinhibition, mood potentiation, and sociability. MDMA is the prototypic empathogen. Typically serotonergic and dopaminergic.

2Cx Compounds

Hallucinogen: Produces profound canges and distortions in sensory perception, awareness, and thought process. LSD and psilocybin are classic hallucinogens. Typically serotonergic and in some cases, dopaminergic. (More on Classic Hallucinogens)

DMT, AMT, Bufotenin & 5-MeO-DMT

Sympathomimetic: Produces autonomic arousal (via exciting the sympathetic nervous system). Prototype stimulant effects. Typically dopaminergic and noradrenergic. The stimulant class is not itself a psychedelic class of drugs, however, many drugs of the psychedelic family (such as MDMA) are molecularly derived from stimulant compounds and produce some stimulant effects.

2Cx Series

Dissociatives: Produces distortions in sensory perception. Inhibits the the conscious processing of sensory information, thus producing a bizzarre isolation of the mind from the body and environment. Often used as anaesthetics. Generally NMDA/glutametergic and dopaminergic.

Ketamine, Tiletamine & Methoxetamine

Deleriants: Produces symptoms mimicking a state of delerium or severe lack of sleep. Capable of producing actual hallucinogenic states; possibly consisting of encounters and conversations with persons who are not present. Primarily histaminergic and cholinergic.

Diphenhydramine & Dimenhydrinate
Atropine & Scopolamine
Nicotine (in high doses)

Entheogens: "From Within". Entheogenic compounds are classified based more on context of use than they are pharmacology. Often used for spiritual, religious, shamanic or self-exploratory purposes, for their transcendent and meditative properties. Psychedelic cacti and salvia divinorum have been used for these purposes. Many substances which are valued as entheogens are generally obtained and used in a raw or natural plant or extract state, this being especially true in the case of the "classic", traditional family of entheogens - the effects obviously being due to their active constituents.

Ayahuasca & Peyote (DMT)
Psychedelic Toads (Bufotenin & 5-MeO-DMT)
Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin)
Iboga (Ibogaine)
Salvia Divinorum (Salvinorin A)
Datura (Atropine & Scopolamine)

1 comment:

  1. I myself have never used a psychedelic, but I have always been interested in the psychedelic state. I think it is incredible that people have had such spiritual revelations in such states. I have always tried to achieve something similar through meditation and lucid dreaming, but when I achieve lucidity in my dreams, I always tend to forget to use it for a learning experience and become to excited at the fact that I can do anything in the dream. My main interest was DMT, from the few things I have read about it, it seems to be a very spiritual experience and one thing that has always intrigued me about the experience is the supposed "Familiar" feeling people claim. I have had very brief states of conscious where I believed I achieved something similar, but my thoughts always cloud my mind immediately afterward. I have thought about isolation tanks or some sort of sensory deprivation but they seem incredibly hard to obtain and I fear that if I do use a powerful psychedelic I will have too fragile of a ego which will force me into a horrifying state of mind.