Peyote Effects: What It Does To Your Brain & Body
One of the most under-reported issues with many drugs is that the effects of taking the drug aren’t just short-term effects. Many drug and ex-drug users experience long-term and sometimes lifelong side effects due to their drug use, and many didn’t know that those side effects were even possible when they started.
Peyote effects are no exception. There are both long and short-term effects when it comes to using peyote. Unfortunately, because peyote is a Schedule I drug and, therefore, very difficult to study, our understanding of those side effects can be limited. That makes it difficult to explain the full risk of drug use, and it also means that people often underestimate the risk in ways that put them, and their long-term health, in danger.
So, let’s talk about peyote effects, what this drug does, short-term, long-term, and everything in between.
While everything we talk about is based on the existing science about peyote, there are times when we will discuss the potential risk of peyote in terms of other similar drugs, like LSD or cocaine, because there is more available science on those drugs, and because the effects of peyote are similar enough for it to make sense for there to be shared risks. Where this happens, it will also be supported by user reports of their experience. So, while there might not be specific studies on the long-term risks of peyote specifically, there is good evidence for any reason to suspect that these risks exist.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started.
What Is Peyote?
First and foremost, peyote is a naturally occurring hallucinogenic drug. Peyote can refer to both the cactus the drug is derived from and the drug itself. The actual active chemical when you take peyote is mescaline, a chemical produced by the cactus, not the cactus itself.
In modern times, mescaline can also be chemically synthesized for a drug that has the same general effects but isn’t naturally derived and doesn’t rely on the cactus. That said, this drug version may be stronger, still has the same side effects, and is often even less well-known or understood than peyote among the general public.
Anything we will say about peyote also applies to synthesized mescaline, with one exception. Because mescaline is an isolated chemical, usually a liquid, it is much easier for the people producing the drug to add other drugs to it without telling the people buying and using it.
That’s important because peyote isn’t traditionally addictive. But many additives combined with synthesized mescaline are, which means that you could unintentionally wind up with drug addiction to something else when you intend to try peyote.
Native Americans in North, Central, and South America have used peyote in religious ceremonies for at least 5,000 years. However, that doesn’t mean that peyote use is safe, especially outside of the controlled setting of a religious occasion.
However, the myth that Native American use proves that peyote is safe and is often used as a selling point or to convince people who would otherwise not use peyote to try the drug for the first time.
Like many drugs, there are many different ways to take peyote, and each person’s method can impact the total dose of the drug they get and the duration. However, unlike some drugs where the side effects can vary depending on the method, peyote’s side effects are fairly consistent no matter which method the user chooses.
What Are Peyote Effects and a Peyote Trip Like?
Peyote effects and trips are slightly different from most other drugs in two critical ways. First, they tend to be longer lasting compared with almost any drug other than other hallucinogenic substances. The other big difference is that peyote tends to have more severe side effects, and the side effects from taking the drug start before the high feeling and can last for a while, even after the drug’s hallucinogenic effects begin.
We’ll cover the side effects in the next section, but we must first cover a few more things about a peyote trip.
For one thing, peyote effects and trips can significantly alter your senses, including your sense of time, where you are in space, and even the normal function of different senses. So you might think you can hear or taste colors or other crossover or spillover between different senses.
Peyote trips can also make it harder to stay hydrated. Two of the most common side effects of peyote are nausea and vomiting, which means that what you drink won’t necessarily stay down. It also means that people who take peyote are at risk of other complications of dehydration, like not getting enough electrolytes for their body’s needs while on the drug.
The last big thing about peyote trips is that they can cause hallucinations and make things feel less real or not real at all. That means that people on a peyote trip may behave in ways completely abnormal, seem disconnected or spaced out, or generally out of it.
Because peyote trips last a long time, many people go through multiple phases, including mood changes, side effects and symptoms, and changes in the intensity of hallucinations and sensory alterations.
Peyote Effects, Side Effects, And Risks
Peyote tends to have strong side effects; most people will experience more side effects than most drugs or medications. Peyote is also known to have more extreme versions of each side effect, especially compared with the same side effects from medications.
For this article, effects are the things peyote does that are the most common reasons people take the drug, while side effects are the things that aren’t wanted but are still typical of the drug.
Risks refer to things that can happen while taking peyote and the long-term risks associated with using the drug.
Hallucinogenic drugs are known for their ability to impact your senses, thought processes, and perception of time and space. Peyote is no exception, and some of its primary effects are:
- Alterations of senses
- Changes in proprioception
- Changes in mood
- Sense of overall relaxation
These effects can happen at the same time as or closely follow the side effects of taking peyote. Typically, the effects will peak within 1-3 hours of taking the drug and slowly dissipate for the next 8-12 hours. So if you suspect someone you know has taken peyote, expect them to be out of it for a long time.
Common side effects of peyote include:
- Appetite loss
- Flushed skin
- Increased body temperature
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Numbness with or without tingling
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle weakness
- Uncoordinated movements
- Inability to focus
- Altered sense of time
There are a few risks that it’s important to understand when it comes to peyote. One is the additional risk and inability to control your actions or fully understand your situation while under the influence of the drug.
Additionally, some users who take peyote may later have flashbacks where they get the side effects of the drug without actually taking more. These can be intense and unpredictable.
In rare cases, some people taking hallucinogenic drugs, including peyote, may develop hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder, which can take the form of more intense flashbacks or continuous hallucinations.
Also rare, some people may have prolonged psychosis, when the disturbed thinking and even hallucinations associated with peyote don’t stop when the drug leaves your system. This may be temporary or may become a permanent condition.
Lastly, most people who take peyote will have a crash in the days after the drug wears off, characterized by low mood and energy, anxiety, and depression. This may be short-term but intense and precede a longer-lasting low mood or depression. The chances of this becoming a long-term issue increase with prolonged or repeated use of peyote and other drugs.
Is Peyote and Peyote Effects Addictive?
No, peyote isn’t addictive in the ways we typically think of a drug being addictive. That said, some people may still be drawn to using peyote repeatedly in a way that can resemble addiction, even without the physical dependence that other drugs cause.
Need Help Stopping Drug Use?
The reasons people start using drugs are complicated and varied. People who stop using drugs should recognize that and offer treatment plans unique to their situation and how they got started.
If you’re looking for extra support from professionals who understand addiction and drug use and how to help you build a lifestyle that helps you avoid addiction in the future, contact Epiphany Wellness today. We can help.
- Schaefer A, Weiss H. Healthline. (2022, April 18). Peyote 101. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/peyote-101 on 2023, February 27
- 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
- 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