Hallucinogens: Ayahuasca Tea and 25i
Celebs endorse hallucinogens while users wind up in jail
If this is the first time you’re hearing about this hallucinogenic tea, I just learned about it myself last month, in a New York Times article in the Styles section of the paper. (Well, it was actually in the news in 2006 when the Supreme Court held that it could be used for religious purposes, but I didn’t know this was the same thing and had become trendy.) Ayahuasca tea is a combination of two plants, one a vine and the other a leaf, that come from the Amazon. The tea purportedly provides personal insights via “optic and auditory hallucinations.” The article was about a tea-in (my word) that took place in Brooklyn, with a Colombian shaman (or spiritual leader) playing “stringed and wind instruments” and “chanting ritualistic melodies, some sweet, some guttural.”
It is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read about. The writer describes the tea as thick and brownish, with a “muddy herbal taste,” and are you sitting down? Participants signed a disclaimer and were given a plastic cup for vomiting. (MBRC Chef Licia—and the rest of the MBRC chefs—are you reading this?)
An email sent to participants instructed them to refrain from red meat, alcohol, spicy food, aged cheese, and TV, and sex for several days beforehand. They also couldn’t be taking anti-depressants.
There are two religious organizations permitted to use the tea, but it’s a Schedule 1 controlled substance “in the same category as ecstasy and heroin.” Schedule 1 controlled substances are “considered to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse,” the article explained.
As happens with so many dangerous substances, a few musicians (e.g., Paul Simon, Sting) and actresses (Lindsay Lohan) are admitting to trying it, among other advocates who sing its praises. Dr. Grob, a psychiatrist who directs the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is linked to a study that found alcoholics and drug addicts had “positive transformations.” He says the tea is “relatively safe,” but there’s an error in the article, too – he did not mention the tea itself was a stimulant.
Definition of Hallucinogens
Psychology Today says that hallucinogens “are drugs that cause hallucinations—profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality, including delusions and false notions. In this state, people see images, hear sounds and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist.” Later on the entry says that there’s no evidence that they’re therapeutic or increase creativity.
A New Hallucinogen
According to one report, Vermont is seeing a new, synthetic hallucinogen called 25i, “legal acid,” “smiles” and “N-bomb.” It’s a phenethylamine, a class of substances that stimulates the central nervous system. It makes users paranoid and can be toxic, causing respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, and seizures.
The article called it an “LSD-like drug,” and said it can be “found as powders, liquids, soaked in blotter paper, or laced into something edible.” When officers responded to incidents involving people who had taken the drug, the officers found them hallucinating and asking if they were going to be shot. One guy was running naked; all were arrested. As if this state, another with a massive heroin problem, needs this.