Mescaline is a chemical that is known for its hallucinogenic effects that are almost similar to those of psilocybin and LSD. The psychoactive alkaloid occurs naturally within nodules of certain cacti species such as the San Pedro cactus and the peyote cactus. It also occurs in some members of the Fabaceae (bean family).
Mescaline drugs are prepared mainly from the peyote cactus by extraction and purification, but synthetic mescaline is manufactured in the labs. Properly synthesized mescaline is usually in powder form with snow-white needles. The substance is categorized as a class ‘A’ drug, and is illegal to sell, supply or posses. Just like most psychedelic hallucinogens, mescaline work by disrupting the brain’s ability to utilize or produce serotonin. Serotonin helps to regulate sexual desire, mood, sleeping patterns and so on.
According to National Institute of Drug Abuse, mescaline can cause considerable brain damage, and hence develop a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) for chronic long-term users. The condition later triggers withdrawal symptoms such as seizures and flashbacks. Here is some information about the history of mescaline, side effects, addiction, and dependency. Read on!
Mescaline has a long-standing historical and cultural association. In ancient times, peyote was ceremonially identified with the natives in the Southwestern US and northern Mexico. By 1922, it was already used in around 22,000 traditional ceremonies. In 1919, the first synthetic mescaline (3, 4, 5-trimethoxyphenethylamine) was created, made possible by its structural resemblance to adrenaline. In the United States, the drug was banned by the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act in 1970. The following year, the drug was categorized as a Schedule I hallucinogen by the CSA, and was made illegal internationally by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
How Do People Take Mescaline?
Usually, the crown of the cactus has buttons that are cut close to the ground and then dried for later use. These dried mescal buttons remain psychoactive indefinitely. The small buttons can be either mixed with water or chewed to make the compulsive liquid. The liquid is often used to brew psychedelic tea (a dark green liquid with strong odor). In other instances, it can also be sprinkled on leafy substances such as marijuana or tobacco and smoked. However, due to its weird, foul tasting nature, it is most often ground into a fine powder and then put into capsules for relatively easy ingestion. It requires about 0.3 to 0.5 grams (equivalent to roughly 5 grams of dried peyote) of mescaline for an effective hallucinogenic dosage. This equals to four to twenty capsules or buttons per dose. Once consumed, a typical high requires two to three hours for the onset of action and can last up to 12 hours.
The impacts of this drug alter emotion based and cognitive processes by stimulating the release of neurotransmitter chemicals throughout the brain. The intense hallucinatory effect of mescaline is one of the main reasons why it is very appealing to someone looking to get away from this high-stress world, though just briefly. With time, continued mescaline use affects an individual’s psychological and physical health in adverse ways.
With its ability to interfere with brain chemical processes, the drug can bring about long-term effects on an individual’s overall mental composition affecting motivations, priorities, and thinking patterns. Typically, users experience altered, dreamy state of consciousness, along with audible and visual hallucinations, often said to be enjoyable and enlightening. However, the hallucinatory impact differs significantly among individuals. With continued drug use, individuals can experience psychotic-like episodes, inability to distinguish between present and past events, a distorted sense of space and time that persists long after drug use, inability to focus or short attention span, and ongoing paranoia. Further, the user may experience waves of hatred and feelings of anxiety or become irrational in their thinking. Besides, they may also experience uncontainable laughter and pensive visions with eyes both closed and open.
Like any drug, mescaline does have physical effects associated with use:
- Some people can experience nausea and dizziness and at times diarrhea.
- Moderate to severe headaches and vomiting.
- Users usually experience dilated pupil while under the influence and may feel both hot and cold sensations.
- Become delusional and try to cause undue harm to themselves or others, particularly in any unsafe environments.
- Blurry or impaired vision.
- Contractions of uterus and intestines.
- Drastic changes in body temperature.
- Other effects include numbness, sweating, shaking hands and feet, and changes in motor reflexes.
In extreme cases, an overdose of the drug can lead to increased heart rate or at times heart failure; induce convulsions, lower body’s glucose level, cause unconsciousness and finally death due to respiratory malfunction. Some researchers believe that abuse can lead to permanent brain damage and cause damage to blood vessels.
Addiction, Dependency and Tolerance
According to researchers, the drug does not pose a real danger of addiction to the user. Although mescaline does not produce the same compulsive drug-seeking behavior like alcohol and other drugs, the user can become psychologically dependent on the drug. With sustained use, the levels of tolerance can increase consistently, boosting the abuse and addiction cycle. At this point, the drug establishes neurological pathways to service the brain. These paths have a one chief objective, to recreate the pleasurable feeling of hallucination; this causes uncontrollable cravings in the user to get high on the drug repeatedly. And that’s how full-blown dependency is born. During this stage, the user can experience unfavorable reactions concerning health due to poor sleep habits, poor eating habits, and times spiritual introspection which may affect his or her daily activities.
Some individuals, especially those who are frequent users may experience drug effects after weeks, months, or years discontinued use. These recurrences are commonly known as flashbacks (bad trip). The experience is quite an unsettling high that interferes with the individual’s functioning in his or her social life, family, school or job. At this time, the user can react in a violent, irrational or abnormal way. These behavioral changes pose a risk to the immediate members of the society as well as the user. However, the flashback may not always be unpleasant. In the event the flashbacks are persistent, there is a high likelihood the person may be suffering from a post hallucinogen disorder. Some potential withdrawal symptoms include muscle stiffness, contorted speech patterns, difficulty breathing, tremors, and seizures.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, addiction to hallucinogens like mescaline is just as real and life-threatening as addictions to drugs like cocaine or heroin. Therefore, persons fighting an addiction to mescaline may want to seek treatment programs to help them rebuild their lives without continued dependency on the drug. If you or someone you love is suffering from the negative impacts of long-term abuse or addiction of the drug, it’s time to go for detox. There are a plethora of renowned drug addiction treatment centers committed to deal with problems related to mescaline addiction and other drugs. Such centers understand the problems caused by both psychological and physical substance dependencies and hence treat addiction accordingly. Whatever the situation is, these centers will give a helping hand to get the abusers’ lives back to sober footings.