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  • Peyote Use Signs and Symptoms: How To Tell if Someone is Using Peyote

    Peyote Use Signs and Symptoms

    What are peyote use signs?

    Peyote is a hallucinogen most often smoked during Native American spiritual practices. Peyote use signs include detachment from reality, altered perception, distorted view of time, inability to concentrate or focus, uncoordinated movements, flushing, excessive sweating, and nausea. Long-term use can lead to tolerance and some even feel the effects of the drug without taking it.

    Peyote Overview


    Peyote is a hallucinogen most often smoked during Native American spiritual practices. The peyote cactus plant is native to Mexico and the Southwestern United States and commonly ingested as a tea or smoked. The primary substance, mescaline, is sold as a capsule or powder, but it’s difficult to find.

    Statistically, hallucinogens account for a small percentage of all illicit drug use in the United States. Peyote accounts for an even smaller percentage. Of those who reported illicit drug dependence or abuse in 2013, 277,000 people age 12 or older cited hallucinogens as a drug category of choice. Compare that to the 4,206,000 people over 12 years old who cited marijuana as their drug of choice. As a category, hallucinogens also include LSD and ecstasy, both far easier to obtain than peyote.

    If someone lives in the southwest near a Native American community and talking about compelling visions, peyote may be the culprit.

    Peyote Use Signs

    Peyote is legal in the United States when used as part of a religious ceremony. A sudden affiliation with Native American spirituality may be an indicator of its use. Peyote is used to induce visions and states of altered reality to communicate with the spirit world. Within religious ceremonies, the dosage is controlled, and induced visions are part of a ritual. Research shows most users within a Native American spiritual context do not abuse the drug due to its religious significance. Recreational peyote users, on the other hand, have a higher chance of using too much and suffering adverse side effects.

    Physical effects

    • nausea and possible vomiting
    • increased heart rate and blood pressure
    • flushing and excessive sweating
    • increased body temperature
    • uncoordinated movements

    Mental effects

    • detachment from reality
    • altered perception
    • distorted visions
    • delusions and hallucinations
    • inability to concentrate or focus

    An unusual effect of peyote abuse is a psychological phenomenon called synesthesia, or a crossover of the senses. When this happens, someone will describe tasting colors or seeing sounds. To a person who is sober, someone using peyote will appear psychotic for a long time since the effects of peyote can last up to 12 hours.

    Long-Term Peyote Use Signs

    While abuse of peyote can result in an increased tolerance for the drug, or needing more to get the same effect, there is no evidence of physical dependence or addiction.

    Effects of long-term abuse

    • permanent alteration of perception
    • cognitive impairments
    • mood swings
    • persistent psychosis (visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia)

    A condition that users of hallucinogens can experience is called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) where someone feels the effects of the drug without taking it. This condition is rare in peyote users. If taken in conjunction with alcohol, then it is highly likely HPPD, or brain problems will develop.

    What’s Next?

    Direct suspected peyote abusers to treatment. Because peyote is not shown to be physically addictive, addiction is going to be psychological. An over-reliance upon an altered state of reality can indicate there are other mental health issues involved, so directing someone to treatment that specializes in co-occurring disorders will be the most beneficial. A specialist in co-occurring disorders can address the substance use as well as the underlying issues.

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