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Peyote is a small cactus plant that contain a psychoactive hallucinogenic known as mescaline. Mescaline is a phenethylamine hallucinogen and the main psychedelic compound in the cactus. When synthesized in a laboratory, pure mescaline is a white, crystalline material that may be used in pill or capsule form (though the raw peyote plant materials may be consumed as well).1
Peyote is not associated with physical dependence; however, people may become addicted to it and use it despite it causing physical or mental harm.1,4
These particular cacti grow in the American Southwest, Peru, and Mexico.1
On the street, peyote goes by various names, such as:2
Generally, no. Peyote is a Schedule I controlled substance, making its use illegal in the United States. However, an exception is made for religious ceremonies conducted by Native American Church members.1
Peyote is one of the oldest known psychedelic drugs.1 Here are some highlights of its history:
When peyote is prepared, the “buttons” that grow from the cactus are cut at the root. The buttons are then dried and can be chewed or soaked in water to create a drinkable liquid.1 This peyote plant extract is extremely bitter, so some users will boil the buttons for several hours to create a tea.3
Some individuals who use the substance will grind down the dried buttons to make a powder that they can add to tobacco or marijuana and smoke.1
Peyote is a classic hallucinogen, and its effects will be somewhat similar to other drugs in the same class such as LSD or “magic mushrooms” (psilocybin).2,3
Peyote use results in visual or auditory hallucinations.3 The drug can produce a phenomenon known as synesthesia, where an individual may experience alterations in perception such as hearing colors or seeing sounds.1
Other short-term psychological effects include:1
Peyote use can also sometimes result in a “bad trip,” a frightening period of intoxication wherein the user has scary hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, confusion, panic, terror, and/or other troubling experiences. Some individuals will experience extreme fear or feel as if they are losing control.1,3 A bad trip can happen to anyone at any time.
Peyote can have physical side effects in addition to its profound psychological effects. These may include:1
The experiences someone will have on peyote will vary based on the user’s:1
The long-term physical and psychological side effects of peyote have not been extensively investigated; however, it is known that just one use can produce some negative long-term effects in some users.
Even when a person isn’t on the drug, the person may hallucinate, or have a “flashback.” The occurrence of flashbacks is known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).3
Though extremely rare, hallucinogen use may also lead to persistent psychosis, characterized by:3
Persistent psychosis and HPPD can sometimes occur together, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.3
As a person uses peyote on a regular basis, it’s possible for the individual to build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning more and more of the drug is needed at one time to feel the same initial effects.3 With this particular substance, tolerance begins quickly with daily use. Per the Center for Substance Abuse Research, tolerance begins in as little as 3-6 days.1 With abstinence, however, tolerance diminishes quickly and is usually lost after just a few days of stopping the drug.3
Per the Center for Substance Abuse Research, there have been no reported cases of physiological dependence. NIDA notes a person will not likely experience a withdrawal syndrome when quitting peyote.3
While peyote does not appear to be associated with physical dependence, a person can certainly use peyote compulsively despite the negative consequences, which is the hallmark of addiction. The inability to stop using hallucinogens such as peyote is referred to clinically as an “other hallucinogen use disorder”. Signs and symptoms of such a substance use disorder include:4
While there is minimal data on the use of peyote specifically, there is data on hallucinogen use in general. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted a National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2018. The survey revealed that nearly 5.6 million people used hallucinogens within the last year, which is an increase of nearly half a million from 2017.5
Results from the survey indicate that past month hallucinogen use has risen since 2002. In fact, in 2018 alone, 1.6 million people, which is equivalent to 0.6% of the population, reportedly used a hallucinogen in the past month.5 Past month hallucinogen use is more prevalent among males than females—904,000 males reported using hallucinogens within the prior month, while only 534,000 women reported such use.5
If you or someone you love is struggling with an inability to stop using peyote, other hallucinogens or any other drug, we are here for you. Greenhouse Treatment Center’s team of licensed, empathetic, qualified staff can help you attain recovery and learn the skills you’ll need to sustain it once you leave our doors.