Hallucinogens, Dissociatives And Delirium-Inducing Drugs
3 min

How Do Hallucinogens, Dissociatives And Delirium-Inducing Drugs Differ From Each Other

3 min

When most people think of trippy drugs, they automatically think of acid and shrooms. But this category of substances is actually very broad and encompasses a variety of different drugs that fall into three different subcategories: hallucinogens, dissociatives, and deliriants.

Hallucinogens, commonly known as psychedelics, are by definition a class of drugs that cause visual, auditory and sensory hallucinations. They can be found in nature, as is the case with mushrooms and peyote. Active ingredients can be extracted from plants, fungi and roots, or they can be man-made. Dissociative hallucinogens, which include PCP and ketamine, work against the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain.

The difference between dissociative drugs and classic hallucinogens is a notable feeling of depersonalization, the sensation of being outside one’s own body. Last on the list are the deliriants like Benedryl and benzodiazepines, which are a somewhat unpopular class of drugs to use recreationally. When used in excess, deliriants are known to induce vivid and rather unpleasant hallucinations, hence their unpopularity compared to shrooms, acid and even ketamine.


Psychedelics popularised throughout the 1960’s to 70s are the most widely used hallucinogens and rightfully so. Not only is the high more pure and uplifting than what you would experience from the other types of drugs on this list, they're also the safest. These types come with low rates of addiction and virtually no negative long-term health effects. Some individuals even report feeling like a newly improved version of themselves after a good acid or shroom trip.


LSD, also known as acid, blotter or doses, is one of the strongest hallucinogens available. It's a clear, odourless, water-soluble compound extracted from rye fungus.


Magic Mushrooms

Shrooms/magic mushrooms/psilocybin refers to certain species of mushrooms found in Mexico, South America and the United States. Shrooms have a long history that dates back thousands of years. In the past, they were used in religious and spiritual ceremonies by indigenous cultures; these days, shrooms are mostly used recreationally or microdosed for health benefits.

Magic Mushrooms can be eaten raw, mixed with other foods or brewed into a tea. By the way, the easiest way to make a flavourful mushroom tea is to add your shrooms (preferably crushed up) into a pot of hot water (no hotter than 50°C otherwise the trip-inducing agents will degrade) and let them steep for about 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, you strain out the mushrooms, add a tea bag (whatever flavour you prefer) and simmer for a little while longer.


Peyote Cactus

Peyote is another very popular psychedelic. Think Jim Morrison tripping out in the Sonoran desert.

Also referred to as buttons and mescaline, peyote is a small cactus that grows in Southern Arizona, Southern New Mexico and throughout the Sonoran region of Northern Mexico. The top part of the cactus has small, circular buttons that are cut out, dried and either chewed, soaked in water or brewed with tea.


Powder, Tablets, Or Capsules

PCP (Phencyclidine) was created in the 1950s to be used as a general anaesthetic for surgery but was eventually outlawed. Today, it is only used recreationally. It can be found in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, liquid or powder. This allows it to be consumed in myriad ways, such as snorting, injecting, smoking or eating.

Another drug that's been gaining popularity is ketamine, cleverly nicknamed "Special K." What initially started out as an anaesthetic for both humans and animals is now often stolen from veterinary offices and sold on the street.

No list of trippy drugs would be complete without the mention of cough syrup, also known as DXM or robo. This is one of the most frequently abused hallucinogenic drugs by teens and young adults.

Delirium-inducing drugs, which aren't very popular due to the unpleasant feelings and hallucinations they produce, include atropine, scopolamine (hyoscine), diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and benzos (benzodiazepine).


Bad Trip

The short-term effects of hallucinogens include, well, hallucinations that can last up to 12 hours. But when it comes to tripping out, the experience can go one of two ways. It can be a good trip, which is usually mentally stimulating, fun and inspiring, or, you could have something called a bad trip.

A bad trip can be an absolute nightmare, inciting feelings of fear, anxiety and despair. Naturally, how your high unfolds all depends on how much is ingested, the user's personality, mood, metabolism and what's going on in the immediate surroundings. Below are some other short-term effects specific to each substance.



  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature
  • Dizziness and sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite, dry mouth and sweating
  • Numbness, weakness and tremors
  • Impulsiveness
  • Rapid emotional shifts


  • Feelings of relaxation (similar to the effects of smoking cannabis)
  • Nervousness, paranoia and panic reactions
  • Introspective/spiritual experiences
  • Poisoning if the mushroom is misidentified and the wrong one is consumed


  • Increased body temperature and heart rate
  • Uncoordinated movements (ataxia)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling flushed

Dissociative drugs (Ketamine, PCP, Cough Syrup, etc.) also produce visual and auditory hallucinations, but they're accompanied by feelings of complete detachment from reality. Other short-term effects include anxiety, memory loss, impaired motor function, seizures or severe muscle contractions and even aggression and violent tendencies.

Delirium-inducing drugs have some rather unpleasant symptoms as well. In addition to the miserable high, they're also known to cause tachycardia, hyperthermia and even heart failure. There have been very few studies performed on the long-term effects of these types of drugs.



According to recently completed research, magic mushrooms are the absolute safest recreational drug. The study conducted by the Global Drug Survey surveyed over 120,000 people to uncover the rates that emergency room visits were required after using different drugs. The rates of reported ER treatment for magic mushrooms were over five times lower than with other substances.

Furthermore, a research team called the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ICSD) led by David Nutt, MD, Imperial College of London, tested 20 different drugs on a scale that accounts for a variety of possible dangers imposed on society. Once again, shrooms won that survey as well. This makes it hard to deny that psilocybin the safest drug in the world for users and society.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter
With a BSc (Hons) degree in Clinical Health Sciences and a passion for growing plants, Luke Sumpter has worked as a professional journalist and writer at the intersection of cannabis and science for the past 7 years.
News Research
Search in categories