Can You Drink Alcohol With Hallucinogens?
Author: Thomas Roth
Last Updated: 1/12/2022
Hallucinogens are drugs that cause chemical changes in the brain that alter your state of reality. These drugs can be taken orally, inhaled, and even injected. Hallucinogens cause users to have hallucinations that present as distorted sounds, colorful visuals, and more. During a hallucinogen high, someone can be under the influence for hours and can put themselves in danger if not careful.
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What are Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens are drugs that cause hallucinations. These drugs alter someone's state of mind and there are dozens of hallucinogens that people can take. Each type of hallucinogen affects everyone differently but people often experience hallucinations, false perceptions of reality, a relaxed state, or a panicked state. Some hallucinogens are also dissociative drugs. These drugs can cause someone to feel detached from themselves and reality. Common dissociative hallucinogens are LSD, peyote, and DMT.
It's not completely known how hallucinogens interact with the brain but there is evidence that drugs like LSD bind to serotonin receptors in the brain. The serotonin neurotransmitter is responsible for cognitive function, emotions, and behaviors. While serotonin is the primary receptor, some hallucinogens can also interact with glutamate, which influences emotion and pain. Still, every hallucinogen has a different and unique effect on the brain. Plus, every individual interacts with these drugs differently, which makes it hard to know how someone will feel when they're consumed.
Hallucinogens can have negative effects on the mind and body, so you should speak with your doctor before engaging in hallucinogens.
What is the Meaning of Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogen comes from the word hallucination. The word is a blanket term for all of the drugs that cause people to hallucinate. Hallucination comes from the Latin word "hallūcinātus," which means "To wander the mind." The term dates back to the late 1500s and early 1600s. Today, there are several types of hallucinogens but the use of the word is consistent with drugs that make you have hallucinations.
How are Hallucinogens Obtained?
Hallucinogens are drugs that come from plants. While many hallucinogens can be made from chemical compounds in laboratories (LSD, DMT), every hallucinogen is from a plant. Some hallucinogens are also from unique wildlife like fungi, which is responsible for the "Magic mushrooms" (psilocybin).
While hallucinogens come from plants they're not legal in most countries. There are controlled trials taking place in the United States but there are no places to purchase hallucinogens legally. Therefore, people need to obtain them illegally. People can also make drugs like LSD if they have the right equipment and people can also pick drugs like psilocybin.
What is the Chemical Structure of Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens vary in chemical structure but they all have similarities, one being the fact that they're all alkaloids. Alkaloids are organic compounds that have one nitrogen atom and occur naturally in nature. One example is the drug psilocybin, which has the chemical structure: C12H17N2O4P. Some others include peyote (C11H17NO3·HCl) and ayahuasca (C12H16N2). These hallucinogens all have a different effect on the brain but their chemical formula remains consistent.
There are also dissociative drugs that have hallucinogenic effects on the brain. Dissociative drugs cause someone to feel detached from reality or not in control of their mind and body. These drugs include PCP (C17H25N·HCl), LSD (C20H25N3O), and ketamine (C13H16ClNO).
There are dozens of hallucinogens around and new ones that are discovered each year.
What are Examples of Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens vary in intensity, dosage, and hallucinogenic effects. There are dozens of hallucinogens, each with unique effects on the mind and body.
Some of the most common hallucinogens include:
N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
Every hallucinogen has a different impact on the mind and body but some drugs do share similarities. For example, LSD and psilocybin both cause people to experience visual and auditory hallucinations.
How Do Hallucinogens Affect the Brain?
Hallucinogens interact with serotonin receptors in the brain. When a hallucinogen is consumed it binds to these receptors and replaces the body's natural chemicals. Drugs like psilocybin and LSD can alter someone's state of being and give them a different perspective of reality. These are also intense drugs that can cause fluctuations in mood, emotions, and consciousness. While hallucinogens have intense short-term effects, once the hallucinogens leave the body their effects wear off and most individuals return to normal.
Still, some studies show that using drugs like marijuana can lead to an increased risk of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. The risk increases when taken in large quantities. There is also some evidence that the neuron connections created by drugs like LSD and psilocybin are permanent.
Hallucinogens can cause users to experience a unique high that causes hallucinations. These hallucinations can be sensations, visuals, and even sounds. After consuming hallucinogens the effects of the drug typically start after 20 to 90 minutes. The drugs can have peaks (the highest concentration in the body) that last between 2 hours and 12 hours. Depending on the dosages people can experience trips that last for a whole day.
Some of the common short term effects include:
Introspective and spiritual experiences
Altered state of being
Changes in blood pressure
Increased body temperature
Perceptions of otherworldly images
Loss of appetite
Loss of consciousness
The short-term effects of hallucinogens vary from person to person and many effects depend on the drug that was taken.
Hallucinogens used frequently can cause long-term effects on the mind and body. While not much is known about the lasting effects of rare drugs like DMT, frequent use of drugs like LSD and psilocybin can create a tolerance within the brain. Tolerance to these substances requires users to ingest more of the drug to feel the same effects. That said, tolerance decreases rapidly when someone stops using the drugs and can even create symptoms of withdrawal.
Some other long term effects include:
A higher risk of mental health issues
Increased risk of schizophrenia, commonly associated with marijuana use
Some hallucinogens like LSD can also lead to Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). This is a rare and inconsistent condition that causes an individual to have flashbacks from a hallucination.
Why Individuals Mix Hallucinogens With Alcohol?
Individuals mix hallucinogens with alcohol for many reasons but the most common is to dull the effects of intense drugs like LSD. Hallucinations caused by drugs like LSD can be intense and cause people to experience bad trips and negative hallucinations. These can induce panic attacks, paranoia, and other mental health issues.
To combat these issues, people drink alcohol with hallucinogens to reduce the intensity because alcohol is a depressant that slows the central nervous system (CNS) down. The thought is that by slowing the CNS down the effects of the hallucinogen will be less intense. While there is some evidence that this works, combining alcohol and hallucinogens can lead to other negative side effects like losing consciousness, coordination, and more.
How Common are Hallucinogens and Alcohol Consumption?
Consuming alcohol and hallucinogens together is not uncommon. Thousands of people do so every day despite the negative health effects the mixture of alcohol and hallucinogens has on the body. In fact, studies estimate that over 30 million adults in the United States have used hallucinogens at some point and over 180 million adults have used alcohol. Based on these numbers, there is some overlap.
There aren't many studies about alcoholism and hallucinogen usage because hallucinogens have been illegal since Nixon's War on Drugs. While it's common for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) to engage in other drug use, the numbers are not yet known or understood.
What are the Effects of Drinking Alcohol While Taking Hallucinogens?
Drinking alcohol and taking hallucinogens can lead to several effects like changes in mood, loss of consciousness, and even changes in general perception. While alcohol is a depressant, it doesn't always dull the effects of a hallucinogenic high. In some cases, alcohol use can make changes to the hallucinations that cause panic attacks, paranoia, and other mood changes.
Drinking alcohol and taking hallucinogens can also lead to several consequences. The combination of substances can cause someone to develop a dependence on both drugs, lead to someone's heart rate slowing down, or even cause a coma. There isn't enough data to claim that a combination of alcohol and hallucinogens is safe.
What Side Effects Occur When You Combine Alcohol and Hallucinogens?
Mixing alcohol and hallucinogens causes several side effects to occur. While they vary from person to person, some of the symptoms can be felt in everyone.
The most common side effects include:
Increased risk of a bad trip
Risk of harm
Changes in mood
Depending on how much of each substance is consumed these side effects can be mild or severe.
Does Alcohol Affect How Well Hallucinogens Work?
Alcohol affects how well hallucinogens work because it's a depressant that slows down the central nervous system. When alcohol does this, it can make neurotransmitters like serotonin slow down. Hallucinogens bind to serotonin receptors, so slowing down how fast they fire can dull the effects of some hallucinogens like LSD.
While alcohol can dull the effects of some hallucinogens there isn't enough data to suggest that alcohol can dull the effects of every hallucinogen. In fact, alcohol can also cause worse symptoms or a bad hallucination. Alcohol can also create side effects like nausea, vomiting, and other types of discomfort.
How Long After Taking Hallucinogens Can You Drink Alcohol?
Consuming alcohol during a hallucinogen high is a bad idea, so you should wait until the substance is no longer in your system. The amount of time it takes for your body to clear each hallucinogen varies. For example, psilocybin can wear off in about 6-8 hours. On the other hand, drugs like LSD can last for over 12 hours. There are even short-term hallucinogens like salvia and DMT that last for less than 15 minutes.
To play it safe, we recommend not consuming alcohol after taking hallucinogens for at least 12-15 hours.
What Other Drugs are Dangerous to Use With Alcohol?
Many drugs interact with alcohol, often with adverse effects, and some with the risk of death.
Some of the most dangerous drugs to take with alcohol include:
These are only a handful of dangerous drugs, so you should consult with your physician if you're unsure.
What Should Be Done to Reduce Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction happens when someone's brain and body become dependent on alcohol to function properly. Chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin become influenced by alcohol and when alcohol is no longer consumed people can experience symptoms of withdrawal. Alcohol dependence turns into alcoholism when withdrawal symptoms begin to appear.
Treating alcoholism can be done in many ways. The most common alcoholism treatment methods include:
Alcoholics Anonymous groups
Medically-assisted detox (MAT)
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism or other alcohol-related illnesses, it's important to seek help today.