Hallucinogenic Drugsby J. Frederick Garman, Waln brown
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Substance abuse in its many forms continues as a major problem facing contemporary American society and its youth. Most Americans are aware of the physical, mental and social challenges associated with the use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin and methamphetamine. Added to the list are hallucinogens – drugs that alter perception, cause visions and create intense, colorful illusions and patterns in the user's mind – drugs considered "mind expanders."
Naturally occurring hallucinogenic plants have been a part of mystical and religious ritual for thousands of years - and continue to be so even today. Modern interest in hallucinogens began in the 1960s with the popularization of the synthetic compound LSD. Along with other "mind expanding" drugs, that decade's counter-culture used LSD as a means of "turning on," "tuning in" and "dropping out." Today, hallucinogenic substances continue to be a part of the drug scene.
Hallucinogenic drugs are both naturally occurring and manufactured synthetically in laboratories. Plants possessing psychoactive substances include marijuana, peyote, nutmeg, belladonna, locoweed, jimson weed, mandrake and varieties of morning glory seeds. Illegally manufactured hallucinogenic drugs include ketamine, mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, MDMA, TMA, PCP and LSD.
These drugs alter the brain's ability to transmit nerve impulses. As a result, perception of time and space can be altered and vivid, and colorful images and illusions can be generated in the user's mind. While some users find these experiences "mind expanding," others become fearful of losing their mind and experience a "bad trip," with its potential for physical injury and prolonged emotional disturbances.
Although the use of these drugs covers a wide range of ages and knows no racial, social, economic or geographical boundaries, many users are under 18-years-old; and, even though it is not certain just how widespread the use of hallucinogenic drugs is among the youth population, evidence appears that it is on the decline. Nonetheless, the use of hallucinogenic substances continues to be a part of the drug scene.
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