How Does Mescaline Work?
Mescaline, also known as 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine, is a psychedelic substance that occurs naturally in a number of different cactus plants. It is commonly used for its hallucinogenic effects. The drug is often compared to other hallucinogens, like LSD, peyote, and mushrooms, and many who regularly abuse mescaline for the purposes of getting high do so at parties and clubs and often abuse other club drugs as well.
What Is Mescaline?
Mescaline is the main psychoactive compound found in peyote, which refers both to a cactus and the drug derived from ingesting the cactus. Mescaline itself is a naturally occurring amphetamine, and when ingested, it produces hallucinogenic and psychoactive effects. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists mescaline and peyote as Schedule I substances, meaning they have no known medicinal use and can be very intoxicating and dangerous.
What Forms Does Mescaline Come In?
The drug can be harvested naturally from the peyote cactus: “buttons,” or small protrusions, are cut off and dried. Once sufficiently dried, a person can either chew the buttons straight or soak them in water and drink the liquid. Occasionally, peyote buttons are ground into a powder and mixed with tobacco or cannabis to be smoked.
Mescaline can also be produced as a powder, tablet, capsule, or clear liquid. These forms are found when mescaline is extracted from peyote, and they are not as popular as ingesting the plant itself. When watered down, mescaline can be injected, but this is extremely rare since ingesting the drug orally achieves the desired effects very rapidly.
How Is Mescaline Used?
Mescaline is ingested orally, in the form of a liquid, pill, or powder. In most cases, users ingest between 300 and 500 milligrams of mescaline at a time.
Effects of Mescaline
Mescaline belongs to a classification of substances called phenethylamines, and according to a report published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, the drug impacts the central nervous system. Absorbed through the intestinal tract, mescaline is then processed through the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and spleen, then binds to serotonin receptors in the brain and stimulates the cortical area.
Within 1-2 hours, the effects of mescaline begin to take hold. These effects will vary considerably from person to person based on the dose taken, other drugs ingested, external stimuli, the mental health and stability of the individual, personality traits, drug history, and more. Symptoms associated with the use of mescaline peak within a couple of hours of onset, continue for the next 10-12 hours, and then fade.
In general, however, physical effects of mescaline can include:
- Raised body temperature.
- Increased heart rate.
- Dilated pupils.
- Heavy sweating.
- Flushed skin.
- Lack of coordination.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Loss of appetite.
Psychological effects of mescaline can include:
- Altered vision and perception of colors and sound.
- Altered perception of the body in space and time.
- Extreme visual images.
- Extreme emotions (e.g., anxiety, fear, joy, etc.).
- Preoccupation with details.
- Lost sense of reality.
- Inability to focus or concentrate.
Risks of Mescaline Use
The primary purpose of ingesting mescaline is to experience euphoria and hallucinations. Although many people report pleasant “trips” on peyote or mescaline, hallucinations can become negative and lead to mental and physical harm. Altered perceptions of touch, sight, taste, and sound can all lead to frightening hallucinations or delusions. Misuse of mescaline can lead to medical emergency as well as accidents while someone is under its influence.
Feelings of euphoria can be accompanied by anxiety or aggression since mescaline is so closely related to amphetamine, which is a stimulant. Hallucinations associated with mescaline can last 12 hours, which can be very disorienting; people who are at risk of psychological problems like mood disorders or schizophrenia may develop these conditions after ingesting mescaline.
Other negative effects include:
- Rising body temperature.
- Changes in heart rate.
- Increased blood pressure.
Can You Overdose on Mescaline?
Although mescaline can induce intense hallucinations, delusions, and other mental health effects, it is not believed to be addictive, nor are there any recorded overdoses on mescaline. The amount most people would need to ingest to overdose on the drug is many times higher than the amount ingested to induce any euphoria or other related effects.
While it is not addictive, people who take mescaline regularly are likely to build up a tolerance to the drug, which can translate to other hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, magic mushrooms, or bath salts. This could cause an overdose on another drug because the person’s body has an existing tolerance to some hallucinogens.
What Drugs Interact with Mescaline?
Since mescaline is related to amphetamine, it can have interactions with some drugs, both legal and illicit.
It is harmful to mix stimulant drugs with mescaline, as the associated increased breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure can be physically dangerous. Additionally, mixing these two types of substances increases a person’s chance of developing intense paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, and frightening hallucinations.
Is Mescaline Addictive?
With continued use and misuse of mescaline, dependence and addiction to the drug can develop over time. One aspect of addiction is physical tolerance that builds to the substance. This means that an increasingly larger dose is needed in order for the person to experience the effects or to get “high.” This can occur within 3-6 days of regular use of mescaline.
In addition to this, psychological dependence — or cravings — must also be present. Both of these factors can contribute to an individual’s continued use of mescaline despite the negative consequences that develop. Generally, this is more likely to occur in individuals who use a range of club drugs and other substances, such as:
Addiction Treatment in New Jersey
The good news is that substance use disorders of all kinds, including addiction to mescaline, are treatable. There is effective evidence-based treatment that can help you or someone you love get on the road to recovery and back to living the life you deserve.
Contact our helpful admissions navigators at to learn more about Sunrise House’s addiction-focused healthcare options, our different levels of care, and how to start the admissions process. Our navigators are on hand to answer all of your questions, including how to use insurance to cover treatment and other ways to pay for rehab.