Drugs that produced unusual experiences have been called “psychedelics” or “hallucinogens”. A hallucination is an experience originated within the brain that is similar to or indistinguishable from an experience originating from outside the brain. Deeply imbedded in the nature of consciousness is the ability of the brain to project an internal event into the world outside. Indeed, all events internal and external are brain events. If a person takes a known psychedelic agent, LSD, he or she expects to have unusual experience and will report these experiences appropriately as, for example, an “acid trip.”
If a psychedelic chemical is produced in the brain or is present as an unknown entity in food or drinks, then the unusual experiences will be reported as real experiences, happening out there in the real world. One theory of "schizophrenia" is that internal psychedelics act on the brain to cause psychotic mind activity. Drugs used to treat this “illness” are supposed to counter the brain disturbance created by endogenous psychedelic chemicals.
I am convinced that the diagnosis of schizophrenia may act against the best interests of teenagers, their parents and their community. Schizophrenia is a term that can be applied such a variety of brain dysfunctions, that the focus should be on discovering the root cause of the brain dysfunction and not this antiquated diagnosis. Drug use and abuse is so prevalent among teenagers that any brain dysfunction (aka mental illness) in an adolescent should be attributed to drug use until proven otherwise. If not drug use, then the cause may be eating too much of the wrong food and exercising too little.
Psychedelic drug use flourished in the 60’s in the US and Canada, along with rock and roll, folk music and protests against racial discrimination and the Vietnam war. LSD was popular in the sixties with researchers who were excited about the therapeutic possibilities of a drug that “opened the doors of perception and the gates of heaven and hell.” For many, LSD was a deep and spiritual drug that appeared to be a key to understanding brain function. Research into the action of LSD in the brain revealed a profusion of activity that defied easy understanding, however. LSD research was outlawed and psychedelic use subsided in the 1970’s and 80’s only to increase again in the 1990’s.
Cannabis (marihuana) is perhaps the most available and widely used psychoactive plant. It contains the psychoactive drug, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In the best case, THC induces mild euphoria, feelings of general well-being, relaxation with increased appreciation of humor, music and food with increased sensuality and creative or philosophical thinking. In the worst case, disorientation, memory deficits, paranoia, agitation, and anxiety produce bad experiences and antisocial behaviors. Cannibis use can produce any and all the symptoms of psychiatric illness. Combine cannabis with other drugs, malnutrition and punk rock, you can reproduce many of the mental illnesses in the psychiatric textbook.
Other natural psychedelics include psilocybin (magic mushrooms), mescaline (peyote), LSA (Morning Glory Seeds) and Ayahuasca found in teas brewed from plants containing dimethyltryptamine and harmine. Synthetics such as MDMA (ecstasy), 2C-B (nexus), DOM (STP), and 5-MeO-DIPT (Foxy Methoxy) are common street drugs. LSD and psilocybin are based on tryptamine. Mescaline and 2C-B. are based on phenethylamine. Psychedelic effects include sensory distortions, such as the warping of surfaces. 2C-B produces dose sensitive effects: a small dose increase is the difference between no activity and a disconnection from “reality”. Empathogens are phenethylamines such as MDMA and MDE that induce feelings of openness, euphoria, empathy, love, and heightened self-awareness. MDA (unlike MDMA) is neurotoxic.
Alkaloids of the ergoline family produce a variety of compounds that can be psychoactive or have medicinal value. Ergine was discovered by Albert Hofmann working at Sandoz laboratories where ergot alkaloids became big business. Hofmann administered new compounds to himself to assay psychoactive effects. A 500 microgram dose by injection led to a tired, dreamy state, with an inability to maintain clarity of consciousness. After a short period of sleep these effects ended. Ergine is a precursor to LSD, and is listed DEA schedule III drug in the United States. Hoffman was the first to synthesize LSD and appreciate its psychedelic effects. Many drugs have been derived from ergot alkaloids such as Bromocriptine, Cabergoline, Ergine, Ergonovine, Ergotamine; Lysergic acid, Lysergol, LSD, D-Lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide, Lisuride, Methergine, Methysergide, Pergolide.
From Children and the Family by Stephen Gislason MD