Hallucinogens

Get the facts on hallucinogens such as LSD, MDMA (Ecstasy), psilocybin mushrooms, and peyote.

Hallucinogens are illegal drugs that distort a person’s perception of reality. They occur in chemical form (for example, LSD and MDMA, a synthetic drug better known by its street name Ecstasy or Molly) as well as in nature (psilocybin mushrooms and peyote). These drugs can produce visual and auditory hallucinations, feelings of detachment from one’s environment and oneself, and distortions in time and perception. Rare but serious health effects include heart failure (MDMA) and flashbacks (LSD).

According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) – 2014 (PDF | 3.4 MB), first-time use of hallucinogens has remained relatively steady since 2002. In 2014, there were 936,000 people aged 12 and older who had used hallucinogens for the first time within the past 12 months.

In 2014, 1.2 million people–0.4% of the population–reported using hallucinogens in the past month, a figure that has remained steady since 2002. Past month usage is higher among males than females (748,000 vs. 426,000).

MDMA

MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or, more recently, Molly, is similar to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (PDF | 3.4 MB) found that 609,000 people aged 12 or older reported using Ecstasy in the past month. According to SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), the estimated number of emergency department (ED) visits involving Ecstasy in patients younger than 21 increased 128%, from 4,460 visits in 2005 to 10,176 visits in 2011. In each year from 2005 to 2011, an average of 33% of ED visits by those younger than 21 that involved Ecstasy also involved alcohol. For more information about these trends, go to the DAWN report, Ecstasy–Related Emergency Department Visits by Young People Increased between 2005 and 2011 (PDF | 629 KB). For information on MDMA and its effects on the brain and body, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) Ecstasy webpage. It explains what it is, how it is abused, how it affects the brain, and other health effects.

Visit NIDA’s hallucinogens webpage for information on LSD, peyote, psilocybin, and phencyclidine (PCP). For more information about hallucinogen use disorders, go to the Mental and Substance Use Disorders topic.

Last Updated: 10/30/2015