Peyote is a spineless cactus native to Mexico, Peru, and the U.S. southwest. Peyote is psychoactive due to the presence of mescaline, a hallucinogen found in and on the peyote cactus. Like an LSD trip, a peyote trip is an event described as an individual who uses a psychedelic drug and experiences effects such as altered sensory perceptions, hallucinations, and detachment from reality.
Pure peyote is relatively rare, and for this reason, drug dealers may falsely label PCP or LSD as mescaline in an attempt to expand their market. On the street, peyote and mescaline itself are referred to by various names, including the following:
- Bad seed
- Cactus or cactus buttons
- Cactus joint
- Hikuli, Hikari, or Hatari
- Mesc or Mescal
- Moon or Half moon
- Tops or Topi
- Bad seed
Peyote is among the oldest known psychedelic substances. The Aztecs touted it as being magical and holy. Many Native American tribes have also used peyote for medical purposes, such as treating alcohol addiction, and it has been used regularly in Native American and Mexican spiritual ceremonies.
Both peyote and mescaline are classified by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) as Schedule I controlled substances in the U.S. This classification means that the government considers them to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical purpose.
Methods of Administration
Small offshoots from the cactus, also known as buttons, are removed and dried, after which they can be chewed and ingested orally. Peyote buttons may also be immersed in water to separate the intoxicating ingredients for placement into a solution or tea. Some people also dry peyote buttons and crush them into a powder for smoking.
Peyote’s Primary Mechanism of Action
Chemically, mescaline is classified as a phenethylamine and is not related to many other psychedelics, such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms. However, it does fall into the same category as synthetic psychedelics, such as ecstasy (MDMA).
Peyote produces its effects by targeting adrenaline and dopamine neurotransmitters, as mescaline is similar in structure to them. Therefore, Mescaline intervenes with normal brain processes that involve these two chemicals.
Dopamine is a neurochemical in the central nervous system (CNS) responsible for feelings of pleasure, reward, and well-being. Adrenaline is responsible for stress and the fight-or-flight response’s activation and regulation.
Peyote Trip Effects
The mescaline in peyote causes cognitive, emotional, and perceptual effects, including the following:
- Vivid mental images
- Distorted vision
- Altered perceptions
- Heightened senses
- Out of body experiences
- Detachment from reality
- Feeling weightless or heavy
Adverse effects may also include the following:
- Feelings of terror
- Panic attacks
- Fear of death
- Loss of control
The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) reports that some individuals may experience physical side effects from peyote use, including the following:
- Numbness and weakness
- Twitching muscles
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Excessive sweating
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
Long-Term Effects of Peyote
Although uncommon, adverse long-term effects can occur after a single peyote dose. In some instances, an individual who has previously used peyote may encounter a “flashback,” in which he or she relives past hallucinations without the substance’s presence. When a person experiences repeated flashbacks or effects following a psychedelic experience, they may be experiencing what is referred to as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, or HPPD.
Despite long-term side effects related to repeated peyote trips being rare or mostly unknown, there have been a few reported diagnostic cases of paranoid schizophrenia following extended trips. Some evidence has suggested that those with a past history of mental health conditions are at an increased risk of developing further mental health issues related to long-term hallucinogen exposure.
Can You Get Addicted to Peyote?
According to CESAR, there are currently no reported cases of peyote addiction. Moreover, its action mechanism appears to lack the essential properties needed to produce physical dependence.
However, a person can develop a psycho-emotional addiction to any substance or behavior. Therefore, despite there being no documented psychological dependence cases related to peyote, it is still technically possible. Also, habitual peyote abuse typically occurs in combination with the abuse of other substances, such as other drugs or alcohol.
Treatment for Peyote Drug Abuse
Although relatively uncommon, peyote can be abused and become psychologically addictive. Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery are specialized treatment facilities that feature programs with services essential for the recovery process, including behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, peer group support, health and wellness programs, aftercare planning, and much more.