What Are Peyote Buttons? Risks, Side-Effects, & Addiction Potential

What to know about peyote buttonsq
What is peyote, and what are peyote buttons exactly?

Peyote is one of those drugs that most people have heard of and don’t know much about. What people think they know is also often inaccurate, based on faulty assumptions, or only partially true.

That means there is much to explain about peyote, including what peyote buttons are, the main side effects of taking the drug, and the serious risks of use.

Since this drug is so widely misunderstood and its origins sometimes aren’t known, we will start with the basics and then get more in-depth about what it does, how it works, and its dangers.

What to know about a peyote trip

What Is Peyote

The first thing you need to know about peyote is that this is a naturally-occurring drug from a cactus that can be found in Peru, parts of Northern Mexico, and parts of the Southwest in the United States.

Peyote comes from a specific cactus that produces, among other psychoactive chemicals, mescaline, the primary drug people use when they take peyote. The scientific name of the peyote cactus is Lophophora Williamsii or Lophophora Diffusa.

The small cacti can grow in various conditions in their native environments. Unfortunately, they are also considered vulnerable partly because of over-harvesting the drug for illegal use. Additionally, many people who use peyote illegally don’t know how to harvest the drug without damaging the cactus, which can contribute to the premature and unnecessary decline of the cactus.

In this, people concerned about illegal drug use and environmental activists can agree that peyote use is harmful.

When peyote is ingested, and we’ll talk more about the whys and hows of taking it a little later, it causes a ‘peyote trip’ or a psychedelic high that can include hallucinations and other side effects for several hours at a time.

Legally, peyote is a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning it’s 100% illegal, and there are no known medical uses. However, unlike other Schedule I drugs, there is one exception to the legal status of peyote. Members of the Native American Church can use peyote for religious reasons, and more generally, Native American people, in general, can use peyote for religious reasons.

At the same time, though, the recreational use of peyote without religious intent, regardless of Tribal membership or religious affiliation, is still illegal.

What Are Peyote Buttons, And Why Are They Important?

Peyote buttons are part of the peyote cactus typically harvested and contain the highest concentrations of mescaline and other psychoactive chemicals in the cactus plant.

These parts are called buttons because they are generally disc-shaped and may look like decorative buttons. We won’t go into too much detail about peyote buttons because the goal is to educate rather than provide a guide to using peyote.

However, peyote buttons are important because they are the most consistent and important part of peyote use. In addition, people who use peyote will often have fresh or dried buttons around before using and may also have paraphernalia involved in processing the buttons into a usable form.

That can be as simple as containers to soak the buttons in water or another liquid, a motor and pestle to grind them, or rolling papers and other ways of using the drug.

Can You Use Peyote Without Peyote Buttons?

Yes, but the effects may not be the same, and you might have more severe side effects from the peyote than you normally would because of the different chemicals in the cactus.

That’s important because, like most natural drugs, both use and improper use can have risks. You shouldn’t just take any random part of a cactus, even a peyote cactus, and take it as a drug.

At the same time, some people likely will use the drug this way, which means that the characteristic peyote button isn’t necessarily the only thing to look out for. It’s also important to remember that peyote may sometimes be dried and powdered, and the resulting powder can appear in various colors, from off-white to gray to brownish.

what does peyote feel like

What Does A Peyote Trip Look And Feel Like?

A peyote trip is slightly different from using most other drugs. Opioid drugs and other hard drugs like meth generally only last a few hours from a dose, while it takes up to 2-3 hours to reach the height of a peyote trip, and it can take another 8-12 hours for the effects of the drug to wear off.

Some peyote users will take more of the drug periodically to extend the trip. Religious use of the drug may extend for several days at a time, proving that it is possible to extend the duration of the trip.

That said, long peyote trips can be dangerous, both because they can come with relatively severe side effects and because being impaired for a long time comes with the dangers of risky behavior or not realizing that certain actions are dangerous at the moment.

Many drug users who use this kind of hallucinogenic drug will have a sober person watching over them while intoxicated to help reduce the risks. However, that doesn’t necessarily make taking peyote or other drugs much safer, depending on the person chosen and their ability to limit dangerous behavior or recognize signs of medical complications.

Peyote is also sometimes described as a drug that gives you the hangover first since most people start experiencing negative side effects before experiencing the trip high, hallucinations, and other side effects that are why people take the drug in the first place.

Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely accurate. Some side effects come first when using peyote, but other side effects and risks can persist for several days after the drug wears off.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the side effects and specific risks of using peyote:

Side Effects Of Peyote Use

Common side effects of peyote button use include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Chills
  • Shivering

These effects can be pretty severe, generally last hours, and may continue even after the more desirable side effects of the drug begin.


In ritual use, this is meant to be cleansing, but it can make the experience unpleasant and difficult. Taking peyote isn’t all fun and games, and it can feel pretty awful at the same time.

Risks Of Peyote Button Use

There are four main risks associated with peyote risk that is specific to peyote. Of course, the other general risks of drug use are also there, that you may behave in unsafe ways, that you might be given something other than the drug you are taking, or that you might be taken advantage of while under the influence of the drug.

But the specific risks of peyote are that:

  1. Your behavior and ability to assess risk are compromised, and you may not perceive reality accurately.
  2. You may have flashbacks of peyote’s effects and side effects later in life without taking more and those flashbacks are unpredictable.
  3. You may struggle to stay properly hydrated and may not be able to keep down food for the duration of the trip, which can last 12+ hours, or longer if you take more than one dose.
  4. Peyote crashes can cause severe depression and anxiety for a few days after taking the drug. However, repeated use may cause longer-lasting crashes and sometimes permanently alter the mood.


These risks are different for everyone. Your reaction is individual, and some people may not experience some of these things at all. That said, people with pre-existing mental health or substance use challenges may be even more vulnerable than average in the days after a peyote trip because one of the effects of peyote is to overwhelm your serotonin and dopamine systems, which can lead to a wide range of difficult symptoms later on.

Can You Get Addicted To Peyote or Peyote Buttons?

Yes and no. Peyote isn’t physically addictive because it doesn’t create a physical craving or dependence like other drugs.

At the same time, people may have something like an addiction to the feelings and experience of a peyote or peyote button trip.

Addiction to other drugs can also be a serious risk after a peyote trip if people try to self-medicate for the low feelings and lethargy that are common after taking peyote.

So, while peyote doesn’t cause the same problems with physical addiction that other drugs can, that doesn’t mean that it’s a safe drug or that addiction isn’t a potential problem that comes with peyote use.

Get the help you deserve

Are You Ready To Get The Help You Deserve?

It can feel like an uphill battle if you’ve been using peyote and other drugs and want to stop. Many people who use drugs want to stop but feel unprepared to face the difficulty of stopping and overcoming any addictions they may have developed.

You’re not alone if you’re feeling that way right now.

The truth is that the right support and the knowledge of experts can make it much easier to overcome even the most complicated cases of drug use, and we have exactly the knowledge you need.

If it’s time to overcome drug use and see what life can be like without substances holding you back, contact Epiphany Wellness today.


  1. T B. Verywell Mind. (2022, October 12). What to Know About Peyote Use.  Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-peyote-stay-in-your-system-80310 on 2023, February 27
  2. 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, February 27
  3. Peyote Crisis. Cactus Conservation Institute. (n.d.) The peyote crisis revisited. https://cactusconservation.org/cci-research/peyote-crisis/ on 2023, February 27
  4. DEA. (n.d.). Drug scheduling. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling 2023, February 27

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