Hallucinogens can be naturally occurring or produced by a chemical process. They come in a wide variety of forms from plants to small tabs of printed blotting paper. The two most common hallucinogens in the Australian illicit drug market are LSD and psilocybin.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a synthetic drug. It may be produced as a white powder, tablets, capsules or most commonly, impregnated in blotting paper.
Psilocybin occurs naturally in certain varieties of mushrooms. The mushrooms may be presented whole, cooked in food or as a tea.
Hallucinogens act upon the central nervous system to cause radical changes in sensory perception. Users may experience intense sensory perception, a mixing of senses, confusion and a distorted self image. Physiological effects include rapid heart beat, chills and increased blood pressure.
Some people using hallucinogens may experience vivid but negative hallucinations, extreme feelings of panic and anxiety, and paranoia.
Tolerance to hallucinogens develops quickly. However, there is no evidence of physical dependence even after long-term use, or of withdrawal symptoms after ceasing such use. Some users of LSD may experience "flashback" hallucinations for up to a year once they have stopped taking the drugs.
LSD can be taken orally, sniffed, smoked or injected. The liquid form may be rubbed into the skin and tabs are occasionally placed under the eyelids of users. LSD is highly potent and very small doses are used.
Mushrooms containing psilocybin are ingested whole, as an ingredient in food or brewed as a tea.
The cultivation, manufacture, possession, use and supply of hallucinogens is illegal throughout Australia as is their importation.
In a 2004 survey, 1.2 million people aged 14 years and over indicated they had used hallucinogens in their lifetime, with 116,400 using hallucinogens in the preceding 12 months. LSD is not generally produced in Australia and is mainly imported from the United States of America. There are 30 types of hallucinogenic mushrooms growing naturally in this country and there have been seizures of spores from other countries.
According to the Australian Crime Commission, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms are generally only available within small niche markets that are generally remain undetected by law enforcement in Australia.
There is a range of street names for the various types of hallucinogens. LSD is known as acid, trips, blotters, mellow or tabs or may be named after the design on the blotting paper. Mushrooms may be known by their common botanical names or as "magic mushrooms".