We are going through a period of change where previously taboo and stigmatized substances are receiving positive public attention. From ketamine to cannabis to magic mushrooms, the discourse has shifted from prohibition to defining optimal ways to use these substances. Our writing is on A drugstore show from Miami This year is an exciting experience, so check it out here.
However, it can be confusing to differentiate the terms, especially in narcotic medications. For many, the question that needs to be answered is that every drug is a hallucinogen, and are all hallucinogens a drug? Continue reading to learn more.
Why simplify terms?
Before we delve into the nuances that distinguish “psychedelic” from “hallucinogen,” let’s consider how ideas and terms are often subject to simplification or distortion due to misunderstanding. Let’s face it, not all of us are experts in every field. When a news story gains widespread attention, it is often simplified to ensure that the general public can understand it, even if this means toning down its original definition or changing it slightly.
Hallucinogens and drugs
As we’ve already established, simplifying confusing ideas and terms is a common practice to make concepts more accessible to non-expert audiences. This idea raises the question of whether all hallucinogens can be considered narcotic substances, especially in this modern era of drug acceptance. The term “psychedelic” is often attributed to meanings that go beyond its definition.
Consider ketamine, which has gained in popularity as narcotic treatment has grown in popularity. However, ketamine is not a drug despite being referred to as one, even on websites that offer ketamine services. This misnomer is not intended to be misleading but is intended to simplify language for better understanding without confusing the audience with complex categorical terms. In reality, Ketamine is a dissociative hallucinogen.
Narcotics are a class of psychoactive substances known to cause profound changes in consciousness, perception, and mood. These substances alter an individual’s sensory experiences, often causing visual and auditory hallucinations, changes in time perception, and feelings of self-transcendence or ego dissolution. The term “psychedelic” was first coined in the 1950s by British psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond, who used it to describe the mind-altering effects of certain substances.
“Drug” refers exclusively to four compounds: DMT, psilocybin, mescaline, and LSD. Although they both have distinct modes of action, they share the common trait of being agonists at serotonin receptors, specifically 5-HT2A. This classification is based on the way they operate. On the other hand, is ketamine an anti-serotonin drug? no not like that. Dissociative hallucinogens, such as DXM and PCP, primarily affect dopamine and NMDA receptors, albeit with their own unique actions.
The classification of ketamine as a hallucinogen is evident in its class name. This shows that ketamine can be classified as a hallucinogen without being a narcotic, which indicates that not all hallucinogenic substances fall under the classification of narcotic substances. In fact, the four recognized compounds are often referred to as the “classic narcotic,” a term coined to reclassify them in the face of growing confusion regarding the true meaning of narcotic drugs.
What are hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens include various types of drugs that share the ability to cause an altered state of mind. An example is the dramatic shifts in mood, thought, and perception of one’s surroundings and self. After all, a hallucination is an experience of something wrong or altered in our perception. This can include sensing or tasting something that is not there or experiencing something that would otherwise be the way it should be.
The effects of hallucinogenic substances can vary greatly depending on the individual, the substance, and the dose. Some users report euphoria, enhanced creativity, and spiritual experiences, while others may experience anxiety, paranoia, and other adverse psychological effects. In some cases, the use of hallucinogens can lead to phenomenon known as “bad trip”,in which the user experiences severe anxiety, confusion, or paranoia.
The classification structure generally divides hallucinogens into three types: psychedelics (DMT, LSD, psilocybin, mescaline), hangovers (ketamine, DXM, PCP), and tranquilizers (Datura, Benadryl). The latter group significantly affects the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which distinguishes its mode of action from the other two groups.
The classification of hallucinogens is not a neat and tidy affair, and much of the material falls outside the standard groupings. For example, take the Amanita muscaria mushroom. Although classified as poisonous mushrooms, they can produce powerful hallucinations and interact with GABA receptors. In addition, substances such as MDMA and 2C-B are often grouped with cannabinoids, but they belong to psychostimulants and phenethylamines, respectively. Despite this, they can still cause hallucinations.
Then there’s salvia, a member of the mint family Lamiaceae without taxonomic designation for its hallucinogenic properties. Salvia is the only known diterpene hallucinogen, making it a distinct member of the hallucinogen family. It shares some structural similarities with, but differs significantly from, the components of cannabis. Since it does not target the 5-HT2A receptor, which is often associated with the conventional anesthetic, how it works is still relatively mysterious. Instead, it appears to engage D2 (dopamine) and opioid receptors. Although it has hallucinogenic properties, it is not a narcotic.
One inference we can draw from this is that although not all hallucinogenic substances fall under the category of hallucinogens, all hallucinogens really are hallucinogens, along with many other non-psychedelic drugs. The term “hallucinogens” includes a wide range of psychoactive substances that can induce altered states of perception, regardless of their specific chemical makeup or mode of action.
The world of hallucinogens is complex and diverse, containing many different substances and classifications. While the term “psychedelic” is often used interchangeably with “hallucinogen,” it is essential to realize that not all hallucinogenic substances are psychedelics, and not all hallucinogens are hallucinogens. Classic psychedelic drugs, which include DMT, psilocybin, mescaline, and LSD, are distinguished by their action on serotonin receptors, specifically 5-HT2A.
Other classes of hallucinogens include ketamine, DXM, and PCP, which act primarily on dopamine and NMDA receptors. Insecticides, such as Datura and Benadryl, greatly affect the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Other substances, such as salvia mushrooms and Amanita muscaria, also produce hallucinogenic effects but do not quite fit into any category.
It should be noted that while the effects of hallucinogens can be profound and life-altering for some, they can also be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Appropriate education, preparation, and harm reduction measures are essential for anyone considering this material.