For centuries, mescaline (also known as peyote) was used medicinally. It’s said to possess mind-expanding and spiritual properties. According to history, the Aztecs and other Native American tribes considered it “divine,” and it soon spread throughout North America. The drug was first synthesized in the early 1900s.
In the U.S., mescaline is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it can’t be legally prescribed. However, Native Americans still have the right to use the drug for religious purposes.
Because the DEA has pronounced that mescaline has no medicinal uses, there is little reason for it to be studied today. Nevertheless, many young people still enjoy the effects of mescaline, which can rapidly lead to drug tolerance.
The traditional preparation of the drug is to take off the top of the cactus, which leaves the large taproot and a green ring of photosynthesizing area. The heads are then dried up to make disc-shaped buttons, which are chewed or soaked in water. Since the drug’s taste is bitter, it’s typically ground into a powder and taken in capsule form.
Mescaline induces a psychedelic state similar to LSD or psilocybin (mushrooms). Other effects include psychedelic hallucinations, altered thought patterns, and changes in sense of time and self-awareness.
Specifically, colors appear to be more very distinct, bright, and intense. These visual patterns are recurring and include stripes, multicolored dots, and simple fractals that eventually become very complex.
Mescaline acts similarly to other psychedelic agents, in that it binds to and activates serotonin. However, mescaline involves the excitation of neurons in the prefrontal cortex, which activates serotonins.
While a substance use disorder for drugs like mescaline are much less likely, they do occur. The problem with mescaline is that a tolerance to the drug can rapidly develop.
Although the drug isn’t associated with the development of physical dependence, some studies correlate specific risks with using the drug. For instance, there are some recorded cases of birth defects caused by mescaline use during pregnancy. It’s also possible to overdose on mescaline and suffer adverse physical effects from it.
A small percentage of users develop a hallucinogen use disorder. These people often experience flashbacks and feel like they’re under the influence of the drug after months of abstinence.
Therefore, if you’re trapped in a cycle of addiction, you must reach out to get help today to prevent these kinds of ramifications.
Mescaline is a relatively safe drug when compared to other substances of abuse. However, it can be dangerous in some circumstances, especially among people with specific medical or psychological health conditions.
Mescaline is a potent psychedelic drug that can cause hallucinations which can be auditory or visual. Hallucinations can be mild, causing things like color enhancement or imagined movement. Hallucinations can also be more intense, causing you to see objects, creatures, or people that aren’t there.
Some believe that psychedelics like mescaline are responsible for causing mental health issues in their users. However, a 2013 study found that mescaline isn’t likely to be an independent cause for mental health problems. That means that mescaline use alone, probably won’t cause psychological issues.
Still, mescaline might contribute to mental problems in people that already have them or people who are predisposed to them. For instance, mescaline may trigger symptoms of psychosis in people that have schizophrenia, even if their schizophrenia hasn’t manifested in psychotic episodes before.
Mescaline is often taken in the form of dried peyote buttons that are eaten. These buttons can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal distress. In rare cases, excessive vomiting has lead to serious complications like the aspiration of vomit, which can be deadly.
However, data shows that mescaline poisoning is very rare. According to a study of California Poison Control calls about mescaline, there were only 31 calls that exclusively involved mescaline (without the presence of other drugs) between 1997 and 2008. Of those, only one person reported vomiting. The rest reported hallucinations, tachycardia, agitation, and pupil dilation. Though these physical effects are relatively mild, people with heart conditions or other medical complications may be at risk when taking mescaline.
While mescaline may lack physical withdrawal symptoms, underlying reasons are pushing the user to partake in mescaline use on a consistent basis. These factors cannot be ignored, and the focus must be placed on getting help to treat all the factors involved.
Many mescaline abusers are using and abusing other substances. If so, the first level in the continuum of care is recommended.
Medical detoxification is the first and most intensive part of treatment. In detox, medical professionals will continually monitor your health 24/7 throughout your stay. You could be in detox for three to seven days, depending on the severity of your addiction and other medical problems that may be present. During your stay, you will become prepared for the level of care you’ll complete after detox.
During detox, addiction specialists assess the client and determine the next level of care, which could involve residential treatment or outpatient services.
Outpatient will consist of therapies that are geared toward getting to the root of the addiction and understanding why you started using in the first place. This approach can be helpful in relearning how to conduct life without relying on drug use.
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If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, it’s important to seek addiction treatment as soon as possible. Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease. That means it can last for a long time and get worse if it isn’t treated.
Mild substance use disorders can grow more severe over time, and addiction can start to take over different parts of your life. Serious consequences like medical problems and strained relationships can develop as addiction advances.
However, treating a substance use problem early can help you avoid some of these issues. Still, even if you have experienced some of these consequences, you may still be able to achieve long-term sobriety. Learn more about addiction treatment to take your first steps toward recovery.
Carstairs, S. D., & Cantrell, F. L. (2010, October 20). Peyote and mescaline exposures: a 12-year review of a statewide poison center database. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/15563650903586745
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
Krebs, T. S., & Johansen, P.-Ø. (2013, August 19). Psychedelics and Mental Health: A Population Study. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0063972
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). How Widespread Is the Abuse of Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/why-do-people-take-hallucinogens
The Vaults of Erowid. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/pharmacology/pharmacology_article1.shtml