Dissociative Anesthetics, Psychedelics, and Hallucinogens
- Lower doses may alter mood, and thought content, while higher ones will induce clear
perceptual distortions, with even higher still concentrations causing full blown
- Because hallucinations are the most striking symptom of people who ingest these
substances, they are referred to as hallucinogens, while other people may refer to them as
being psychotimimetic, or psychotogenic.
- Many people have used hallucinogenics over time, like aboriginal groups who used it for
their rituals and ceremonies for healing and sacramental purposes. The peyote (mescaline)
sessions of the Native American Church, the yage ceremonies of the South American
Amazon Indians, etc.
General Hallucinogenic Characterizations
There are four major classes of hallucinogens:
- Monoamine Related Substances – MRS: These have molecular structures and biochemical
activity that suggest that their effects are mediated by the alterations of the body’s natural
chemicals, like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the nervous system (CNS)
- Cannabinoids – weed
- Anticholinergics – block acetylcholine activity in the brain
- Dissociative anesthetics – analgesic-anesthetic drugs with hallucinogenic effects.
- They seem to alter consciousness and perceptual processes, making them likeable, and they
are likeable because they don’t affect the brain or reward centers – they carry with them a
highly subjective aspect which lends a likeability to it all.
o Although euphoria is often expressed, it’s still a highly context specific.
o The reward value of some hallucinogens is not directly related to their effects on
the primary reward centers of the brain, seen in research with nonhumans. They
will not self adminster many of the hallucinogens in their pure form whereas they
will do that very thing with psychostimulants, sedative hypnotics and narcotics.
Drug Discrimination Paradigm
- In this, animals are trained to tell the difference between the effects of a placebo injection
and those produced by a particular drug. You make the rat press the right level if injected
with LSD, and the left lever if injected with saline. Then you give them the test drug, and
you’ll see which lever they press and you’ll get an idea of what the drug is doing.
Monoamine Related Hallucinogens (MRS) - These are named the way that they are named because they share a basic similarity with the
molecular structures of the monoamine neurotransmitters like 5-HT, DA, and NE. Some
examples of MRS includes mescaline, found in the peyote cactus, DMMA, (the main
ingredient in STP), MMDA, and LSD.
- The dose ranges that are effective are quite similar and often indistinguishable in both
humans and animals. In animal DDPs, the indolamine and the catecholamine type
hallucinogens generalize to each other, but their potency may vary tremendously. The
effects of MRS hallucinogens vary from being somewhat psychostimulant like and weakly
hallucinogenic, like a amphetamine, to being weakly psychostimulant like and strongly
LSD’s historical significance
- It is a derivative of ergot, which is present in bread blighted by ergot producing fungi.
- There have actually been speculations that ergot may have contributed to historical
accounts of the emergence of Jewish mystical movements in Europe.
- Hoffman was the first one to synthesize LSD while working with several derivatives of
ergot, and he accidentally ingested the compound and promptly had a LSD trip, after which
he began to describe it’s profound effects. After having what he considered to be a trivial
amount, a quarter of a milligram, he promptly had a psychotic break.
- First, LSD began to be seen as a potential basis for unraveling the cause of psychosis, which
began to wane in the 1950s, as it was determined that it didn’t re