Drug Awareness: Hallucinogens, Cannabinoids, Solvents


  • Hallucinogens are best known for their dramatic mind-altering effects. Hallucinogens may lead to hallucinations and delusions as well as a variety of other psychological and physical effects.
  • Hallucinogens (psychedelics) are mind-altering drugs that affect sensory perceptions.
  • Hallucinogens create a wide range of sensory disruptions or distortions and result in behaviors that may mimic psychotic episodes. Users may have distorted perceptions of time and connection to their surroundings; some users report a spiritual or out-of-body experience.
  • “Bad trips” can include rapid mood swings, panic, confusion, violence, terrifying delusions and hallucinations and psychotic breaks with reality.
  • Examples of hallucinogens: LSD (Acid), Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin), PCP (Angel Dust), and  Ketamine (fast-acting anesthetic and painkiller used primarily in veterinary surgery….currently being researched as a potential treatment for severe depression in humans).
  • Although hallucinogens may have a lower risk of addiction than other types of psychoactive drugs, they can lead to erratic or risky behavior that may result in a serious injury.

Under the Influence of Hallucinogens

  • Heightened sensory awareness
  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria
  • Impaired perception of reality
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flashbacks
  • Panic or paranoia
  • Impaired motor function
  • Memory loss.

Long-Term Side Effects of Hallucinogen Abuse

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

  • Hallucinations
  • Other visual disturbances (such as seeing halos or trails attached to moving objects)
  • Symptoms sometimes are mistaken for neurological disorders (such as stroke or brain tumor)

Persistent Psychosis

  • Disorganized thinking
  • Mood disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Visual disturbances
  • Flashbacks


  • Cannabinoids have their own category because of the number of effects they produce, although they previously were classified as depressants or hallucinogens.
  • Cannabinoids include marijuana, hashish and hash oil.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids are becoming more prevalent and include “spice” products (“synthetic marijuana,” also known as K2, fake weed, etc.).
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active cannabinoid in cannabis.
  • THC creates an overall sense of well-being, including calmness and relaxation.
  • Risk of dependence/abuse is considered low at 10% of users.

Under the Influence of Cannabinoids

  • Talkativeness
  • Impaired short-term memory
  • Difficulty with abstract thinking and concentration
  • Increased appetite
  • Slowing of motor skills and reaction time
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Distortion of time
  • Vivid visual and audio perceptions
  • Red dilated eyes

Long-Term Effects of Cannabinoids

  • Cannabinoids are not typically addictive (estimated at around 10% of users)
  • Respiratory problems
  • Memory and learning difficulties
  • Heavy cannabis use has been linked to development of schizophrenia in those predisposed to it
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Damage to the heart including heart attacks


  • Solvent Use is increasing worldwide because they are readily available, minimal cost, and rapidly mood-altering.
  • Solvents are stored in the fatty tissues in the body and as a result there are no withdrawal symptoms.
  • They can produce anxiety, depression, headaches, and abdominal cramping.
  • Death can occur at any time due to the toxicity of solvents and the dangers of inhaling them.

Expectant and Breastfeeding Mothers

  • As the life givers of the human race, expectant mothers are at unique risk of harm to both themselves and their unborn babies during pregnancy whenever they use/abuse substances.
  • Most substances are also passed through breast milk: nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, opioids, etc.
  • Expectant and breast-feeding mothers should discuss their substance use with their doctor to ensure safety for their babies and themselves.
  • It is also important to discuss this with their doctors as there are many prescription medications and over the counter medications that can also harm mothers and babies both during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

(Keeping breast milk safe and healthy (marchofdimes.org)