Everything You Need To Know About Mescaline And How It Can Effect You

Everything you need to know about mescaline
If you or someone you love has ever done drugs, you probably already know that there are many different drugs if someone wants to get high. 

That can make it hard to keep track of the different drugs, warning signs that someone is using, and the side effects and potential long-term consequences of common drugs of abuse. 

Unfortunately, while drug users and dealers often work to make this information inaccessible, it also makes it harder to see when someone in your life is dealing with addiction and harder to get them the help they deserve. 

That’s why we decided to put together this guide to mescaline, a drug that is getting more popular again. We want to give you the information you need to spot mescaline use and get help. 

We’ll cover the basic information, including what mescaline is, what it does, the risks of using mescaline, and its tricky legal status in the United States. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dig right in. 

What Is Mescaline?

Mescaline, commonly known as peyote, is a naturally occurring psychedelic or hallucinogen. It’s mostly found in two cacti that grow in the southwest, but it can also occur in some other plants in much lower concentrations. 

People who use mescaline almost always use mescaline produced by the two cacti, harvesting the small buttons on the surface of the cacti that hold the highest concentration of mescaline in the plant. 

Peyote can be ingested in various ways, depending on how processed the mescaline buttons are before use. Mescaline can also be synthesized without using the cacti, but that kind of use is less common. 

Synthetic mescaline can also come with its risks, including being laced with other drugs, especially other hallucinogens, that work to make the drug more potent but also come with risks and complications, including longer duration. 

When derived from the cacti, mescaline can be eaten, combined with a liquid to create a kind of tea and drunk, or dried and ground to smoke. When prepared for smoking, mescaline is often added to other drugs, like tobacco, which can change the effects of the drug and how it makes you feel. 

Some people recommend smoking or other methods of ingesting mescaline to avoid the nausea and vomiting that often come with mescaline use. However, those options generally don’t help much. Mescaline causes nausea and vomiting regardless of how it’s used due to how the drug works in your body. 

Everything you need to know about Mescaline

What Does Mescaline Do?

Mescaline is a hallucinogen, which means that the primary action of the drug is to cause hallucinations and change the way your senses work. 

It’s thought that mescaline may cause more intense visual hallucinations than other hallucinogens. 

Functionally, the drug is similar to LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, often called Acid) and psilocybin (mushrooms). Psilocybin, like mescaline, is a naturally occurring drug, and the two are more functionally similar in effects and side effects. 

Like all drugs, mescaline has many important effects, side effects, and risks. Understanding the effects and side effects of mescaline use can also make it easier to tell if someone close to you is using the drug. 

Because of natural variations, naturally occurring drugs tend to have a wider range of effects and potency than synthetics. For example, the cacti may produce more or less mescaline during different growing seasons, depending on conditions. They may even have different concentrations of mescaline in each mescaline button they produce. 

That means it is harder to predict effects and side effects between uses, and not all users can manage a consistent experience. 

So, if you’re concerned that someone you love might be using mescaline, be prepared that the symptoms and presentation may be more different between uses than you would expect from other, more consistent drugs. 


For this article, we’ll discuss effects as the symptoms of mescaline use that most users want, while side effects are unintended but common. 

What effects and side effects an individual experiences while using mescaline can vary greatly from person to person, use to use, and dose size. For example, people who get a relatively small starting dose might have very different effects and side effects from mescaline use compared to people who take a larger dose. 

Another important thing to understand about mescaline use is that almost everyone who uses mescaline takes relatively large doses of the drug because of how the drug works. 

Mescaline needs to get into your brain to be effective, like other hallucinogens. However, mescaline molecules have relatively low lipid solubility, which means they don’t dissolve well in fats and have a relatively low ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. 

Those large doses may also contribute to mescaline having a wider range of side effects compared with other drugs and medications. 

With all that out of the way, here are some of the common effects of mescaline use: 

  • Euphoric mood
  • Hallucinations
  • Calm mood or relaxed feeling
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Distorted or heightened senses
  • Uncontrolled laughter
  • Synesthesia

People will react differently to mescaline, and each experience will likely differ. 

Typically, the effects and side effects of mescaline use will start within 60 minutes of use, and the effects can last for 10-12 hours. Unlike LSD, which involves similar hallucinations, taking more mescaline will extend the experience. 

When used for religious reasons as part of some native tribal rituals, mescaline use is often continuous for two days. 

Side Effects

Like the effects of mescaline, the side effects of peyote use vary and may differ each time the drug is used. 

That said, unlike some drugs, some side effects are virtually guaranteed, like nausea and vomiting. Others are rarer or can be prevented with preparation. That’s important to note because many mescaline users will take time to prepare a space and ensure they have what they need, including a good source of hydration and food, before using the drug. 

That means you can sometimes spot mescaline use before it happens if you catch someone in the drug’s planning and preparation phase. 

Here are some of the common side effects of mescaline use: 

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Fear or panic
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures (relatively rare) 
  • Amnesia
  • Flashbacks 
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions (very rare) 

In addition to these common side effects, people on other medications should be especially careful with mescaline use. 

Mescaline is known to increase the serotonin and dopamine in the brain, like many other illicit drugs. Therefore, it can be dangerous for people on other medications that also increase serotonin levels. 

Skipping a dose doesn’t necessarily make mescaline use safer, either, since it takes time for these medications to leave your system. In addition, both the medications and mescaline can affect serotonin levels for a while after you stop using them. 

Serotonin syndrome, a serious and potentially fatal condition that occurs when your body has too much serotonin, can also be a serious problem, especially if you take both mescaline and an SSRI or similar medication. 

Lastly, users and people watching for mescaline use should also be aware that mescaline has sometimes been described as giving users the hangover first, unlike alcohol, which gives you the hangover after you stop drinking. 

Frequently, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and other unwanted side effects from mescaline happen before hallucinations or other effects begin. 

What Are The Risks Of Mescaline Use?

One of the first risks of mescaline use, and unfortunately, one that a lot of people ignore, is the risk that you will be caught using mescaline. 

Mescaline, like most hallucinogens, is a Schedule I drug, meaning there is no current medical use for the drug, and it’s tightly controlled because of the potential for abuse. 

People caught using a Schedule I drug may be charged with a crime, and the charge level can depend on how much of the drug is around when you are caught. In some cases, even growing the cacti that produce mescaline may also be a chargeable offense. 

But, beyond the legal repercussions of using mescaline, there can also be serious health consequences, both short-term and long-term. 

Risk of Injury While Using Mescaline

This risk isn’t a direct result of mescaline use because having mescaline in your system doesn’t cause injuries, but it can make them much more likely. 

Since mescaline messes with your senses, and your ability to judge spaces accurately, including where you are in that space, people are much more likely to accidentally injure themselves while on mescaline. 

Concussions, broken bones, sprains, strains, and even torn muscles or damaged tendons can all result from mescaline use, especially in unsupervised or cluttered areas. 

Dizziness from mescaline use can also make these problems more likely by increasing your risk of falling, bumping into things, or even walking off ledges or into the street without realizing what you’re doing. 

Some users mitigate their risk by having someone else around while using mescaline, but this method is far from foolproof. 

Health Risks Associated With Mescaline

Mescaline also interacts with various body systems in ways that can cause other health complications while using the drug. 

For instance, since mescaline increases your heart rate and blood pressure, you may be at greater risk of circulatory complications, including heart attacks and strokes, while using the drug. 

In some cases, the risk may persist because even short-term increases in heart rate can put additional stress on your heart and your whole circulatory system. 

Mescaline can also be involved in serotonin syndrome, which may be difficult to notice immediately since many serotonin syndrome symptoms are the same as the side effects of mescaline use. Including headache, dilated pupils, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, and tremors. 

Mescaline use in pregnancy has also been shown to be associated with fetal abnormalities, though studies on peyote or mescaline use in pregnancy are limited. 

Other risks, including seizures, may be less predictable but no less serious than the ones we’ve already discussed. There can be serious problems with mescaline use, which may not appear immediately after drug use. Every time someone uses mescaline, they are taking the risk that something may go wrong, including the risk that things may go wrong in a way they didn’t anticipate when they took the drug. 

Is Mescaline Addictive? 

Many people assume that a drug has to be addictive to be harmful, which isn’t true. Plenty of drugs can cause harm when used improperly, even without adding a risk of addiction. 

But is mescaline addictive? 

Well, no, not so far as we know, at least. There haven’t been many studies on whether mescaline is truly addictive because of its illegal status and the low potential that a helpful medication could be derived from it. 

That said, the chances that mescaline would be physically addictive are relatively low. Most hallucinogenic drugs aren’t physically addictive; that isn’t the problem with their use. 

Instead, the problems with hallucinations include things like the potential for a psychological addiction (where you feel the need to take the drug but don’t have a physical dependence or physical craving), the risks of accidents, and other problems while taking the drug, as well as the potential for at least some people to experience a health crisis while using mescaline. 

For example, since mescaline raises your body temperature and makes you much more likely to vomit and have diarrhea, it can be very hard to stay hydrated. That can put a lot of extra stress on your body, especially when combined with other side effects like raising your blood pressure and heart rate and increasing the amount of serotonin in your body. 

The fact that mescaline isn’t considered physically addictive doesn’t mean it’s safe to use or that it’s a good idea to try mescaline if you’re considering it. Many other risks come with mescaline use, enough to make using it less than ideal. 

Mescaline’s Legal Status

If you’ve heard of peyote before, you’ve probably heard about peyote’s complicated legal status. The truth is that there are a few specific and very limited uses of peyote that are legal, but no exemptions for synthetic mescaline that don’t come from peyote cacti. 

The use of mescaline for religious purposes, as it’s been used by Native American tribes for millennia, is protected under U.S. law. That’s because limiting the use of peyote is seen as interfering with constitutionally protected freedom of religion, so the drug has to be allowed in those specific and very limited contexts. 

However, for people who don’t follow a Native American religion that uses peyote in rituals, or even for people who do but who use mescaline outside of that religious context, the drug is always illegal. 

The problem is that mescaline’s mixed legal status can sometimes make enforcement difficult. It can sometimes be difficult to tell if someone has a legitimate religious claim to use the drug or if they’re saying they do to get out of charges. 

In general, mescaline isn’t considered popular for recreational use thanks to its relatively severe and common unpleasant side effects. However, mescaline may become more popular with the increasing use of hallucinogens, especially in party settings. 

There isn’t much motivation to legalize mescaline, and the drug is only legal for specific religious reasons. Furthermore, the amount of mescaline you can have, even for religious reasons, is limited. 

If Mescaline Has A Long History, Does That Mean It’s Safe? 

Not necessarily. Plenty of drugs have long histories of human use, including other examples like alcohol, tobacco, and psilocybin. 

That long history of use speaks to drugs being fun, not healthy. For most people who use drugs, drug use doesn’t necessarily cause immediate complications or get in the way of reproduction, which means that there hasn’t been a lot of evolutionary pressure to stop using drugs in our history. 

Short-term rewards, no matter the long-term consequences, can sometimes be supported in evolutionary terms, even if there are serious health effects from drug use down the line. Tobacco is a great example of a drug that can have serious health problems as a direct result of drug use, but because the health consequences don’t show up for a long time, there isn’t much that stops drugs from getting used. 

Mescaline is another example. Mescaline use isn’t necessarily safe or even pleasant for some people. However, it has a long history for all the same reasons that other naturally occurring drugs have very long histories with humans. 

That said, mescaline isn’t necessarily as dangerous as some other drugs. However, not as bad isn’t the same as good or healthy. 

Signs of out of control drug use

Signs Drug Use Has Gotten Out Of Control

Even though mescaline is not as addictive as other drugs, some people might still start using mescaline more often to deal with other problems. Mescaline use may also lead to other kinds of drug use, or other drugs may lead to mescaline use. 

Here are some common signs that drug use is getting out of control. 

  • You want to use it more often
  • You know that there are negative side effects from your drug of choice, and you still choose to keep using
  • You don’t get the same effects you used to and have or are considering increasing your dose
  • You find yourself thinking about your drug of choice more and more often
  • You want to take more when you use
  • You try to make a high last as long as possible when you have it
  • You feel like you need to hide your drug use from the people close to you
  • You have or have considered stealing to fund your drug use
  • You have or have considered using other drugs to get some of the high when you can’t use your drug of choice. 
  • You have or have considered using drugs in inappropriate places, like work or school
  • You feel like your best self only while intoxicated
  • You notice feeling worse and worse between uses of your drug of choice or other drugs

Even having a few of these symptoms can be a good indication of addiction or other drug problems. If you suspect that you or someone you care about might be dealing with a drug problem, don’t wait. Reach out for help as soon as you can. 

How To Get Help Overcoming Mescaline Use

Overcoming drug use is a big step, and many changes can be involved to give you the best possible chance of living drug-free in the future. 

It’s alright if you want or need extra support to stop using drugs, even drugs like mescaline that don’t cause a typical addiction. 

If you’re serious about overcoming addiction, stopping your drug use, and seeing how life can get so much better when you’re free of drug dependence, you’re in the right place. Contact Epiphany Wellness to learn more about our treatment programs or to enroll in a drug treatment program today.


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  2. Drugs.com. (n.d.). Mescaline (peyote). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/illicit/mescaline.html on 2023, January 25
  3. Hartney E. Verywell Mind. (2022, October 14). What to know about mescaline use. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-mescaline-4155320 on 2023, January 25
  4. DEA. (n.d.). Drug Scheduling. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling on 2023, January 25
  5. Gilmore HT. National Library of Medicine. (2001, January). Peyote use during pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11211421 on 2023, January 25

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