Psychedelics (Legal psychedelics) are a class of drug whose primary action is to trigger psychedelic experiences via serotonin receptor agonism, causing thought, visual and auditory changes, and altered state of consciousness. Major psychedelic drugs include mescaline, LSD, psilocybin, and DMT.
Differing from other psychoactive drugs, such as stimulants and opioids, psychedelics tend to qualitatively alter ordinary conscious experience. Whereas stimulants cause energized feelings and opioids produce a relaxed euphoric state, the psychedelic experience is often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance, meditation, yoga, religious ecstasy, dreaming, and even near-death experiences. Most psychedelic drugs fall into one of the three families of chemical compounds: tryptamines, phenethylamines, or lysergamides. Although lysergamides are their own group, they are in fact both a tryptamine and a phenethylamine.
Studies show that psychedelics are physiologically safe and do not lead to addiction. Studies conducted using psilocybin in a psychotheraputic setting reveal that psychedelic drugs may assist with treating depression and alcohol addiction, and possibly also nicotine addiction.
Many psychedelic drugs are illegal worldwide under the UN conventions, occasionally excepting use in a religious or research context. Despite these controls, recreational use of psychedelics is common.
Psychedelics have a long history of use in traditional medicine and traditional religion, for their perceived ability to promote physical and mental healing. In this context, they are often known as entheogens. Native American practitioners using mescaline-containing cacti (most notably peyote, San Pedro, and Peruvian torch) have reported success against alcoholism, and Mazatec practitioners routinely use psilocybin mushrooms for divination and healing. Ayahuasca, which contains the potent psychedelic DMT, is used in Peru and other parts of South America for spiritual and physical healing as well as in religious festivals