Recreational drug use is the use of a psychoactive drug to induce an
altered state of consciousness for pleasure, by modifying the
perceptions, feelings, and emotions of the user. When a psychoactive
drug enters the user's body, it induces an intoxicating effect.
Generally, recreational drugs are in three categories: depressants
(drugs that induce a feeling of relaxation and calm); stimulants
(drugs that induce a sense of energy and alertness); and hallucinogens
(drugs that induce perceptual distortions such as hallucination). In
popular practice, recreational drug use generally is a tolerated
social behaviour, rather than perceived as the serious medical
condition of self-medication. However, heavy use of some drugs is
Recreational drugs include alcohol (as found in beer, wine, and
distilled spirits); cannabis and hashish; nicotine (tobacco); caffeine
(coffee and black tea); and the controlled substances listed as
illegal drugs in the
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) and
Convention on Psychotropic Substances
Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971) of the United
Nations. What controlled substances are considered illegal drugs
varies by country, but usually includes methamphetamines, heroin,
cocaine, and club drugs. In 2009, it was estimated that about 3% to 6%
of people aged 15 to 65 had used illegal drugs at least once (149 to
1 Reasons for use
2.1 Responsible use
4.2 United States
5 Society and culture
6 Common recreational drugs
7 Routes of administration
9 List of drugs which can be smoked
10 List of psychoactive plants, fungi and animals
12 See also
14 External links
Reasons for use
Hadzabe tribe members smoking.
Many researchers have explored the etiology of recreational drug use.
Some of the most common theories are: genetics, personality type,
psychological problems, self-medication, gender, age, instant
gratification, basic human need, curiosity, rebelliousness, a sense of
belonging to a group, family and attachment issues, history of trauma,
failure at school or work, socioeconomic stressors, peer pressure,
juvenile delinquency, availability, historical factors, or
sociocultural influences. There has not been agreement around any
one single cause. Instead, experts tend to apply the biopsychosocial
model. Any number of these factors are likely to influence an
individual’s drug use as they are not mutually exclusive.
Regardless of genetics, mental health or traumatic experiences, social
factors play a large role in exposure to and availability of certain
types of drugs and patterns of drug use.
According to addiction researcher Martin A. Plant, many people go
through a period of self-redefinition before initiating recreational
drug use. They tend to view using drugs as part of a general lifestyle
that involves belonging to a subculture that they associate with
heightened status and the challenging of social norms. Plant says,
“From the user's point of view there are many positive reasons to
become part of the milieu of drug taking. The reasons for drug use
appear to have as much to do with needs for friendship, pleasure and
status as they do with unhappiness or poverty. Becoming a drug taker,
to many people, is a positive affirmation rather than a negative
Main article: Evolutionary models of human drug use
Anthropological research has suggested that humans "may have evolved
to counter-exploit plant neurotoxins". The ability to use botanical
chemicals to serve the function of endogenous neurotransmitters may
have improved survival rates, conferring an evolutionary advantage. A
typically restrictive prehistoric diet may have emphasised the
apparent benefit of consuming psychoactive drugs, which had themselves
evolved to imitate neurotransmitters. Chemical–ecological
adaptations, and the genetics of hepatic enzymes, particularly
cytochrome P450, have led researchers to propose that "humans have
shared a co-evolutionary relationship with psychotropic plant
substances that is millions of years old."
Addiction experts in psychiatry, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic
science, epidemiology, and the police and legal services engaged in
delphic analysis and ranked 20 popular recreational drugs by their
dependence liability and physical and social harms.
This 1914 photo shows intoxicated men at a sobering-up room.
Severity and type of risks that come with recreational drug use vary
widely with the drug in question and the amount being used. There are
many factors in the environment and within the user that interact with
each drug differently. Overall, some studies suggest that alcohol is
one of the most dangerous of all recreational drugs; only heroin,
crack cocaine, and methamphetamines are judged to be more harmful.
However, studies which focus on a moderate level of alcohol
consumption have concluded that there can be substantial health
benefits from its use, such as decreased risk of cardiac disease,
stroke and cognitive decline. This claim has been
David Nutt stated that these studies showing
benefits for "moderate" alcohol consumption lacked control for the
variable of what the subjects were drinking, beforehand. Experts
in the UK have suggested that some drugs that may be causing less
harm, to fewer users (although they are also used less frequently in
the first place), include cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and
ecstasy. These drugs are not without their own particular risks.
Main article: Responsible drug use
The concept of "responsible drug use" is that a person can use drugs
recreationally or otherwise with reduced or eliminated risk of
negatively affecting other aspects of one's life or other people's
lives. Advocates of this philosophy point to the many well-known
artists and intellectuals who have used drugs, experimentally or
otherwise, with few detrimental effects on their lives. Responsible
drug use becomes problematic only when the use of the substance
significantly interferes with the user's daily life.
Responsible drug use advocates that users should not take drugs at the
same time as activities such as driving, swimming, operating
machinery, or other activities that are unsafe without a sober state.
Responsible drug use is emphasized as a primary prevention technique
in harm-reduction drug policies. Harm-reduction policies were
popularized in the late 1980s, although they began in the 1970s
counter-culture, when cartoons explaining responsible drug use and the
consequences of irresponsible drug use were distributed to users.
Another issue is that the illegality of drugs in itself also causes
social and economic consequences for those using them—the drugs may
be "cut" with adulterants and the purity varies wildly, making
overdoses more likely—and legalization of drug production and
distribution would reduce these and other dangers of illegal drug
Harm reduction seeks to minimize the harm that can occur
through the use of various drugs, whether legal (e.g., alcohol and
nicotine), or illegal (e.g., heroin and cocaine). For example, people
who inject illicit drugs can minimize harm to both themselves and
members of the community through proper injecting technique, using new
needles and syringes each time, and proper disposal of all injecting
In efforts to curtail recreational drug use, governments worldwide
introduced several laws prohibiting the possession of almost all
varieties of recreational drugs during the 20th century. The West's
"War on Drugs" however, is now facing increasing criticism. Evidence
is insufficient to tell if behavioral interventions help prevent
recreational drug use in children.
Smoking any tobacco product, %, Males (See the same map for
Total recorded alcohol per capita consumption (15+), in liters of pure
Alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia, tried one or more
times in their lives by 86.2% of Australians aged 12 years and over,
while 34.8% of Australians aged 12 years and over have used cannabis
one or more times in their lives.
In the 1960s, the number of Americans who had tried cannabis at least
once increased over twentyfold. In 1969, the FBI
reported that between the years 1966 and 1968, the number of arrests
for marijuana possession, which had been outlawed throughout the
United States under
Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, had increased by
98%. Despite acknowledgement that drug use was greatly growing
among America's youth during the late 1960s, surveys have suggested
that only as much as 4% of the American population had ever smoked
marijuana by 1969. By 1972, however, that number would increase to
12%. That number would then double by 1977.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified marijuana along with
LSD as a Schedule I drug, i.e., having the relatively
highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use. Most
marijuana at that time came from Mexico, but in 1975 the Mexican
government agreed to eradicate the crop by spraying it with the
herbicide paraquat, raising fears of toxic side effects. Colombia
then became the main supplier. The "zero tolerance" climate of the
Reagan and Bush administrations (1981–93) resulted in passage of
strict laws and mandatory sentences for possession of marijuana and in
heightened vigilance against smuggling at the southern
borders. The "war on drugs" thus brought with it a
shift from reliance on imported supplies to domestic cultivation
(particularly in Hawaii and California). Beginning in 1982 the
Drug Enforcement Administration turned increased attention to
marijuana farms in the United States, and there was a shift to the
indoor growing of plants specially developed for small size and high
yield. After over a decade of decreasing use, marijuana smoking
began an upward trend once more in the early 1990s, especially
among teenagers, but by the end of the decade this upswing had
leveled off well below former peaks of use.
Society and culture
Main article: Drug culture
Many movements and organizations are advocating for or against the
liberalization of the use of recreational drugs, notably cannabis
legalization. Subcultures have emerged among users of recreational
drugs, as well as among those who abstain from them, such as
teetotalism and "straight edge".
The prevalence of recreational drugs in human societies is widely
reflected in fiction, entertainment, and the arts, subject to
prevailing laws and social conventions. In video games, for example,
enemies are often drug dealers, a narrative device that justifies the
player killing them. Other games portray drugs as a kind of
"power-up"; their effect is often unrealistically conveyed by making
the screen wobble and blur.
Common recreational drugs
The following substances are used recreationally:
Alcohol: Most drinking alcohol is ethanol, CH
2OH. Drinking alcohol creates intoxication, relaxation and lowered
inhibitions. It is produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts to
create wine, beer, and distilled liquor (e.g., vodka, rum, gin, etc.).
In most areas of the world, apart from certain countries where Muslim
sharia law is used, it is legal for those over a certain age
(typically 18–21). It is an IARC 'Group 1' carcinogen and a
Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening.
Amphetamines: Used recreationally to provide alertness and a sense of
energy, whether for all-night studying or all-night dancing.
Prescribed for ADHD, narcolepsy, depression and weight loss. A potent
central nervous system stimulant, in the 1940s and 50s methamphetamine
was used by Axis and Allied troops in World War II, and, later on,
other armies, and by Japanese factory workers. It increases muscle
strength and fatigue resistance and improves reaction time.
Methamphetamine use can be neurotoxic, which means it damages dopamine
neurons. As a result of this brain damage, chronic use can lead to
post acute withdrawal syndrome.
Cannabis: Its common forms include marijuana and hashish, which are
smoked or eaten. It contains at least 85 cannabinoids. The primary
psychoactive component is THC, which mimics the neurotransmitter
anandamide, named after the
Hindu ananda, "joy, bliss, delight." The
review article Campbell & Gowran (2007) states that "manipulation
of the cannabinoid system offers the potential to upregulate
neuroprotective mechanisms while dampening neuroinflammation. Whether
these properties will be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer's
disease in the future is an exciting topic that undoubtedly warrants
Caffeine: Often found in coffee, black tea, energy drinks, some soft
drinks (e.g., Coca-Cola,
Pepsi and Mountain Dew, among others), and
Cocaine: It is available as a white powder, which is insufflated
("sniffed" into the nostrils) or converted into a solution with water
and injected. A popular derivative, crack cocaine is typically smoked.
When transformed into its freebase form, crack, the cocaine vapour may
be inhaled directly. This is thought to increase bioavailability, but
has also been found to be toxic, due to the production of
methylecgonidine during pyrolysis.
MDMA: Commonly known as ecstasy, it is a common club drug in the rave
Ketamine: An anesthetic used legally by paramedics and doctors in
emergency situations for its dissociative and analgesic qualities and
illegally in the club drug scene.
LSD: A popular ergoline derivative, that was first synthesized in 1938
by Hofmann. However, he failed to notice its psychedelic potential
until 1943. In the 1950s, it was used in psychological therapy,
and, covertly, by the
CIA in Project MKULTRA, in which the drug was
administered to unwitting US and Canadian citizens. It played a
central role in 1960s 'counter-culture', and was banned in October
1968 by US President Lyndon B Johnson.
Nitrous oxide: legally used by dentists as an anxiolytic and
anaesthetic, it is also used recreationally by users who obtain it
from whipped cream canisters (see inhalant), as it causes perceptual
effects, a "high" and at higher doses, hallucinations.
Opiates and opioids: Available by prescription for pain relief.
Commonly abused opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine,
fentanyl, heroin, and morphine.
Opioids have a high potential for
addiction and have the ability to induce severe physical withdrawal
symptoms upon cessation of frequent use.
Heroin can be smoked,
insufflated or turned into a solution with water and injected.
Psilocybin mushrooms: This hallucinogenic drug was an important drug
in the psychedelic scene. Until 1963, when it was chemically analysed
by Albert Hofmann, it was completely unknown to modern science that
Psilocybe semilanceata ("Liberty Cap", common throughout Europe)
contains psilocybin, a hallucinogen previously identified only in
species native to Mexico, Asia, and North America.
Nicotine is the key drug contained in
tobacco leaves, which are either smoked, chewed or snuffed. It
contains nicotine, which crosses the blood–brain barrier in 10–20
seconds. It mimics the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at
nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain and the neuromuscular
junction. The neuronal forms of the receptor are present both
post-synaptically (involved in classical neurotransmission) and
pre-synaptically, where they can influence the release of multiple
Tranquilizers: barbiturates, benzodiazepines (commonly prescribed for
anxiety disorders; known to cause dementia and post acute withdrawal
"Bath salts": this is the street name for
DMT – primary ingredient in ayahuasca, can also be smoked in a crack
pipe; briefly (c. 30 minutes) causes a "total loss of connection to
Peyote: This hallucinogen contains mescaline, native to southwestern
Texas and Mexico
Salvia divinorum: This hallucinogenic Mexican herb in the mint family;
not considered recreational, most likely due to the nature of the
hallucinations (legal in some jurisdictions)
Synthetic cannabis: "Spice", "K2", JWH-018, AM-2201
Research chemicals: 2C variants, etc.
Routes of administration
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Insufflation of caffeine powder.
Injection of heroin.
Drugs often associated with a particular route of administration. Many
drugs can be consumed in more than one way. For example, marijuana can
be swallowed like food or smoked, and cocaine can be "sniffed" in the
nostrils, injected, or, with various modifications, smoked.
inhalation: all intoxicative inhalants (see below) that are gases or
solvent vapours that are inhaled through the trachea, as the name
insufflation: also known as "sniffing", or "snorting", this method
involves the user placing a powder in the nostrils and breathing in
through the nose, so that the drug is absorbed by the mucous
membranes. Drugs that are "sniffed", or "snorted", include powdered
amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, ketamine and MDMA. Additionally, snuff
intravenous injection (see also the article Drug injection): the user
injects a solution of water and the drug into a vein, or less
commonly, into the tissue. Drugs that are injected include morphine
and heroin, less commonly other opioids.
Stimulants like cocaine or
methamphetamine may also be injected. In rare cases, users inject
oral intake: caffeine, ethanol, cannabis edibles, psilocybin
mushrooms, coca tea, poppy tea, laudanum, GHB, ecstasy pills with MDMA
or various other substances (mainly stimulants and psychedelics),
prescription and over-the-counter drugs (
ADHD and narcolepsy
medications, benzodiazapines, anxiolytics, sedatives, cough
suppressants, morphine, codeine, opioids and others)
sublingual: substances diffuse into the blood through tissues under
the tongue. Many psychoactive drugs can be or have been specifically
designed for sublingual administration, including barbiturates,
benzodiazepines, opioid analgesics with poor gastrointestinal
LSD blotters, coca leaves, some hallucinogens. This
route of administration is activated when chewing some forms of
smokeless tobacco (e.g. dipping tobacco, snus).
intrarectal: administering into the rectum, most water-soluble drugs
can be used this way
smoking (see also the section below): tobacco, cannabis, opium,
crystal meth, phencyclidine, crack cocaine and heroin (diamorphine as
freebase) known as chasing the dragon
transdermal patches with prescription drugs: e.g. methylphenidate
(Daytrana) and fentanyl
Many drugs are taken through various routes. Intravenous route is the
most efficient, but also one of the most dangerous. Nasal, rectal,
inhalation and smoking are safer. The oral route is one of the safest
and most comfortable, but of little bioavailability.
Depressants are psychoactive drugs that temporarily diminish the
function or activity of a specific part of the body or mind.
Colloquially, depressants are known as "downers", and users generally
take them to feel more relaxed and less tense. Examples of these kinds
of effects may include anxiolysis, sedation, and hypotension.
Depressants are widely used throughout the world as prescription
medicines and as illicit substances. When these are used, effects may
include anxiolysis (reduction of anxiety), analgesia (pain relief),
sedation, somnolence, cognitive/memory impairment, dissociation,
muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure/heart rate, respiratory
depression, anesthesia, and anticonvulsant effects. Depressants exert
their effects through a number of different pharmacological
mechanisms, the most prominent of which include facilitation of GABA
or opioid activity, and inhibition of adrenergic, histamine or
acetylcholine activity. Some are also capable of inducing feelings of
euphoria (a happy sensation).
Stimulants or "uppers", such as amphetamines or cocaine, which
increase mental or physical function, have an opposite effect to
Antihistamines (or "histamine antagonists") inhibit the release or
action of histamine. "Antihistamine" can be used to describe any
histamine antagonist, but the term is usually reserved for the
classical antihistamines that act upon the H1 histamine receptor.
Antihistamines are used as treatment for allergies.
caused by an excessive response of the body to allergens, such as the
pollen released by grasses and trees. An allergic reaction causes
release of histamine by the body. Other uses of antihistamines are to
help with normal symptoms of insect stings even if there is no
allergic reaction. Their recreational appeal exists mainly due to
their anticholinergic properties, that induce anxiolysis and, in some
cases such as diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, and orphenadrine, a
characteristic euphoria at moderate doses. High dosages taken to
induce recreational drug effects may lead to overdoses. Antihistamines
are also consumed in combination with alcohol, particularly by youth
who find it hard to obtain alcohol. The combination of the two drugs
can cause intoxication with lower alcohol doses.
Hallucinations and possibly delirium resembling the effects of Datura
stramonium can result if the drug is taken in much higher than
therapeutical dosages. Antihistamines are widely available over the
counter at drug stores (without a prescription), in the form of
allergy medication and some cough medicines. They are sometimes used
in combination with other substances such as alcohol. The most common
unsupervised use of antihistamines in terms of volume and percentage
of the total is perhaps in parallel to the medicinal use of some
antihistamines to stretch out and intensify the effects of opioids and
depressants. The most commonly used are hydroxyzine, mainly to stretch
out a supply of other drugs, as in medical use, and the
above-mentioned ethanolamine and alkylamine-class first-generation
antihistamines, which are - once again as in the 1950s - the subject
of medical research into their anti-depressant properties.
For all of the above reasons, the use of medicinal scopolamine for
recreational uses is also seen.
Analgesics (also known as "painkillers") are used to relieve pain
(achieve analgesia). The word analgesic derives from Greek "αν-"
(an-, "without") and "άλγος" (álgos, "pain").
act in various ways on the peripheral and central nervous systems;
they include paracetamol (para-acetylaminophenol, also known in the US
as acetaminophen), the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
such as the salicylates, and opioid drugs such as hydrocodone,
codeine, heroin and oxycodone. Some further examples of the brand name
prescription opiates and opioid analgesics that may be used
recreationally include Vicodin, Lortab, Norco (hydrocodone), Avinza,
Kapanol (morphine), Opana, Paramorphan (oxymorphone), Dilaudid,
Palladone (hydromorphone), and OxyContin (oxycodone).
Ethanol (drinking alcohol; ethyl alcohol)
ethchlorvynol (Placidyl; "jelly-bellies")
gamma-butyrolactone (GBL, a prodrug to GHB)
gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB; G; Xyrem; "Liquid Ecstasy", "Fantasy")
kava (from Piper methysticum; contains kavalactones)
methaqualone (Sopor, Mandrax; "Quaaludes")
theanine (found in Camellia sinensis, the tea plant)
Cocaine is a commonly used stimulant
Stimulants, also known as "psychostimulants", induce euphoria with
improvements in mental and physical function, such as enhanced
alertness, wakefulness, and locomotion. Due to their effects typically
having an "up" quality to them, stimulants are also occasionally
referred to as "uppers". Depressants or "downers", which decrease
mental or physical function, are in stark contrast to stimulants and
are considered to be their functional opposites.
Stimulants enhance the activity of the central and peripheral nervous
systems. Common effects may include increased alertness, awareness,
wakefulness, endurance, productivity, and motivation, arousal,
locomotion, heart rate, and blood pressure, and a diminished desire
for food and sleep.
Use of stimulants may cause the body to reduce significantly its
production of natural body chemicals that fulfill similar functions.
Until the body reestablishes its normal state, once the effect of the
ingested stimulant has worn off the user may feel depressed,
lethargic, confused, and miserable. This is referred to as a "crash",
and may provoke reuse of the stimulant.
Sympathomimetics (catecholaminergics)—e.g. amphetamine,
methamphetamine, cocaine, methylphenidate, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine
Entactogens (serotonergics, primarily phenethylamines)—e.g. MDMA
Eugeroics, e.g. modafinil
arecoline (found in
caffeine (found in
nicotine (found in
rauwolscine (found in Rauvolfia serpentina)
yohimbine (Procomil; a tryptamine alkaloid found in Pausinystalia
Main article: Euphoriant
Alcohol: "Euphoria, the feeling of well-being, has been reported
during the early (10–15 min) phase of alcohol consumption" (e.g.,
beer, wine or spirits)
Catnip Catnip contains a sedative known as nepetalactone that
activates opioid receptors. In cats it elicits sniffing, licking,
chewing, head shaking, rolling, and rubbing which are indicators of
pleasure. In humans, however, catnip does not act as a euphoriant.
Cannabis Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in
this plant can have sedative and euphoric properties.
Stimulants: "Psychomotor stimulants produce locomotor activity (the
subject becomes hyperactive), euphoria, (often expressed by excessive
talking and garrulous behaviour), and anorexia. The amphetamines are
the best known drugs in this category..."
MDMA: The "euphoriant drugs such as
MDMA (‘ecstasy’) and MDEA
(‘eve’)" are popular amongst young adults.
experience short-term feelings of euphoria, rushes of energy and
Opium: This "drug derived from the unripe seed-pods of the opium
poppy…produces drowsiness and euphoria and reduces pain. Morphine
and codeine are opium derivatives."
See also: List of psychedelic drugs
Hallucinogens can be divided into three broad categories:
psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. They can cause subjective
changes in perception, thought, emotion and consciousness. Unlike
other psychoactive drugs such as stimulants and opioids, hallucinogens
do not merely amplify familiar states of mind but also induce
experiences that differ from those of ordinary consciousness, often
compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance,
meditation, conversion experiences, and dreams.
Psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants have a long worldwide
history of use within medicinal and religious traditions. They are
used in shamanic forms of ritual healing and divination, in initiation
rites, and in the religious rituals of syncretistic movements such as
União do Vegetal, Santo Daime, Temple of the True Inner Light, and
the Native American Church. When used in religious practice,
psychedelic drugs, as well as other substances like tobacco, are
referred to as entheogens.
Starting in the mid-20th century, psychedelic drugs have been the
object of extensive attention in the Western world. They have been and
are being explored as potential therapeutic agents in treating
depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, Obsessive-compulsive
disorder, alcoholism, and opioid addiction. Yet the most popular, and
at the same time most stigmatized, use of psychedelics in Western
culture has been associated with the search for direct religious
experience, enhanced creativity, personal development, and "mind
expansion". The use of psychedelic drugs was a major element of the
1960s counterculture, where it became associated with various social
movements and a general atmosphere of rebellion and strife between
atropine (alkaloid found in plants of the
Solanaceae family, including
datura, deadly nightshade, henbane and mandrake)
dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, an antihistamine)
diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Unisom, Nytol)
hyoscyamine (alkaloid also found in the Solanaceae)
hyoscine hydrobromide (another
myristicin (found in
Myristica fragrans ("Nutmeg"))
ibotenic acid (found in
Amanita muscaria ("Fly Agaric"); prodrug to
muscimol (also found in
Amanita muscaria, a GABAergic)
dextromethorphan (DXM; Robitussin, Delsym, etc.; "Dex", "Robo", "Cough
"Triple C's, Coricidin, Skittles" refer to a potentially fatal
formulation containing both dextromethorphan and chlorpheniramine.
ketamine (K; Ketalar, Ketaset, Ketanest; "Ket", "Kit Kat",
"Special-K", "Vitamin K", "Jet Fuel", "Horse Tranquilizer")
methoxetamine (Mex, Mket, Mexi)
phencyclidine (PCP; Sernyl; "Angel Dust", "Rocket Fuel", "Sherm",
"Killer Weed", "Super Grass")
nitrous oxide (N2O; "NOS", "Laughing Gas", "Whippets", "Balloons")
2C-B ("Nexus", "Venus", "Eros", "Bees")
2C-E ("Eternity", "Hummingbird")
2C-T-7 ("Blue Mystic", "Lucky 7")
DOM ("Serenity, Tranquility, and Peace" ("STP"))
MDMA ("Ecstasy", "E", "Molly", "Mandy", "MD", "Crystal Love")
mescaline (found in peyote,
Peruvian torch cactus and San Pedro
Tryptamines (including ergolines and lysergamides)
5-MeO-DiPT ("Foxy", "Foxy Methoxy")
5-MeO-DMT (found in various plants like chacruna, jurema, vilca, and
alpha-methyltryptamine (αMT; Indopan; "Spirals")
bufotenin (secreted by Bufo alvarius, also found in various Amanita
dimethyltryptamine (DMT; "Dimitri", "Disneyland", "Spice"; found in
most plants and animals as it is a common metabolite )
lysergic acid amide (LSA; ergine; found in morning glory and Hawaiian
baby woodrose seeds)
lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD; L; Delysid; "Acid", "Sid". "Cid",
"Lucy", "Sidney", "Blotters", "Droppers", "
psilocin (found in psilocybin mushrooms)
psilocybin (also found in psilocybin mushrooms; prodrug to psilocin)
ibogaine (found in
Tabernanthe iboga ("Iboga"))
salvinorin A (found in Salvia divinorum, a trans-neoclerodane
diterpenoid ("Diviner's Sage", "Lady Salvia", "Salvinorin"))
Inhalants are gases, aerosols, or solvents that are breathed in and
absorbed through the lungs. While some "inhalant" drugs are used for
medical purposes, as in the case of nitrous oxide, a dental
anesthetic, inhalants are used as recreational drugs for their
intoxicating effect. Most inhalant drugs that are used non-medically
are ingredients in household or industrial chemical products that are
not intended to be concentrated and inhaled, including organic
solvents (found in cleaning products, fast-drying glues, and nail
polish removers), fuels (gasoline (petrol) and kerosene), and
propellant gases such as
Freon and compressed hydrofluorocarbons that
are used in aerosol cans such as hairspray, whipped cream, and
non-stick cooking spray. A small number of recreational inhalant drugs
are pharmaceutical products that are used illicitly, such as
anesthetics (ether and nitrous oxide) and volatile anti-angina drugs
The most serious inhalant abuse occurs among children and teens who
"[...] live on the streets completely without family ties."
Inhalant users inhale vapor or aerosol propellant gases using plastic
bags held over the mouth or by breathing from a solvent-soaked rag or
an open container. The effects of inhalants range from an alcohol-like
intoxication and intense euphoria to vivid hallucinations, depending
on the substance and the dosage. Some inhalant users are injured due
to the harmful effects of the solvents or gases, or due to other
chemicals used in the products that they are inhaling. As with any
recreational drug, users can be injured due to dangerous behavior
while they are intoxicated, such as driving under the influence.
Computer cleaning dusters are dangerous to inhale, because the gases
expand and cool rapidly upon being sprayed. In some cases, users have
died from hypoxia (lack of oxygen), pneumonia, cardiac failure or
arrest, or aspiration of vomit.
Ethane and ethylene
Laughing gas (nitrous oxide)
Poppers (alkyl nitrites)
Solvents and propellants (including propane, butane, freon, gasoline,
kerosene, toluene) and the fumes of glues containing them
List of drugs which can be smoked
See also: Smoking
datura and other
Solanaceae (formerly smoked to treat asthma)
possibly other plants (see the section below)
Substances (also not necessarily psychoactive plants soaked with
black tar heroin
synthetic cannabinoids (see also: synthetic cannabis)
many others, including some prescription drugs
List of psychoactive plants, fungi and animals
See also: List of psychedelic plants
Minimally psychoactive plants which contain mainly caffeine and
tea (caffeine in tea is sometimes called theine) – also contains
guarana (caffeine in guarana is sometimes called guaranine)
yerba mate (caffeine in yerba mate is sometimes called mateine)
Most known psychoactive plants:
tobacco: nicotine and beta-carboline alkaloids
opium poppy: morphine, codeine and other opiates
salvia divinorum: salvinorin A
khat: cathine and cathinone
Solanaceae plants—contain atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine
deadly nightshade atropa belladona
Cacti with mescaline:
Peruvian torch cactus
San Pedro cactus
kratom: mitragynine, mitraphylline, 7-hydroxymitragynine, raubasine
valerian: valerian (the chemical with the same name)
various plants like chacruna, jurema, vilca, and yopo – 5-MeO-DMT
Morning glory and
Hawaiian Baby Woodrose
Hawaiian Baby Woodrose – lysergic acid amide (LSA,
Tabernanthe iboga ("Iboga")—ibogaine
Areca catechu (see: betel and paan)—arecoline
Rauvolfia serpentina: rauwolscine
yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe): yohimbine, corynantheidine
probably many others
psilocybin mushrooms: psilocybin and psilocin
Amanita mushrooms: muscimol
Amanita muscaria: ibotenic acid and muscimol
Claviceps purpurea and other Clavicipitaceae: ergotamine (not
psychoactive itself but used in synthesis of LSD)
psychoactive toads: bufotenin,
Bufo alvarius (
Colorado River toad
Colorado River toad or
Sonoran Desert toad) also contains 5-MeO-DMT
Martini, a popular cocktail, containing alcohol a common depressant
Cappuccino, a coffee drink containing caffeine a popular stimulant
Cannabis flowers, containing
THC and other cannabinoids known as
A lit cigarette, containing tobacco, which contains nicotine.
A pile of cocaine hydrochloride
Tablets containing MDMA, widely known as "ecstasy"
"Pink elephant" blotters containing LSD
Preparing diacetylmorphine for injection, commonly known as heroin
Homeless children from Keningau, in Borneo, sniffing glue from a
Crack cocaine in the form of "rocks" a freebase version of cocaine
Poppers, a slang term for alkyl nitrites that are inhaled
Amphetamine is typically prescribed as amphetamine mixed salts
commonly known as Adderall
Psilocybe semilanceata, a type of psilocybin mushrooms
Opium poppy seed pods exuding latex
Methamphetamine in crystal form
Salvia divinorum extract, mainly containing salvinorin A
Coca tea, consumed as a stimulant
Yemen selling khat, an amphetamine-like stimulant
DXM, a cough medicine which acts as a dissociative hallucinogen in
Peyote cactuses containing psychoactive alkaloids, particularly
Ayahuasca, a decoction prepared with Banisteriopsis caapi
Ketamine hydrochloride crystals
DMT in a zipper storage bag
25I-NBOMe sold in blotters is often assumed to be LSD
Bromazepam, a benzodiazepine drug
Whippets containing nitrous oxide, commonly known as "laughing gas"
Gateway drug theory
Illegal drug trade
Recreational use of dextromethorphan
Recreational use of ketamine
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Opioid receptor agonists (opioids) (e.g., morphine, heroin,
hydrocodone, oxycodone, opium, kratom)
α2δ subunit-containing voltage-dependent calcium channels blockers
(gabapentinoids) (e.g., gabapentin, pregabalin, phenibut)
AMPA receptor antagonists (e.g., perampanel)
CB1 receptor agonists (cannabinoids) (e.g., THC, cannabis)
Dopamine receptor agonists (e.g., levodopa)
Dopamine releasing agents (e.g., amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA,
Dopamine reuptake inhibitors (e.g., cocaine, methylphenidate)
GABAA receptor positive allosteric modulators (e.g., barbiturates,
benzodiazepines, carbamates, ethanol (alcohol) (alcoholic drink),
inhalants, nonbenzodiazepines, quinazolinones)
GHB (sodium oxybate) and analogues
Glucocorticoids (corticosteroids) (e.g., dexamethasone, prednisone)
nACh receptor agonists (e.g., nicotine, tobacco, arecoline, areca nut)
Nitric oxide prodrugs (e.g., alkyl nitrites (poppers))
NMDA receptor antagonists (e.g., DXM, ketamine, methoxetamine, nitrous
oxide, phencyclidine, inhalants)
Orexin receptor antagonists (e.g., suvorexant)
Recreational drug use
(Foxy Methoxy) 5-MeO-DiPT
(The Light) DPT
Also empathogens in general (e. g.: 5-APB, 5-MAPB,
6-APB and other
substituted benzofurans, MDAI, MDMA).
Misc. designer cannabinoids
Also indirect D2 agonists, such as dopamine reuptake inhibitors
(cocaine, methylphenidate), releasing agents (amphetamine,
methamphetamine), and precursors (levodopa).