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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Okay, last type of psychoactive drug we'll talk about here is hallucinogens. These drugs, as you might expect, cause users to experience hallucinations. Or sensations that aren't really there. Even though all hallucinogens do cause altered perceptions and feelings, there are many different types of hallucinogens that can have a wide range of specific physiological effects. Some hallucinogens even have medical uses which we'll get to towards the end of this video. First though, we'll talk about a drug that straddles the line between stimulants and hallucinogens, ecstasy. Ecstasy is a synthetic drug that sort of lives in both the stimulant world and the hallucinogen world. Like a stimulate, it greatly increases dopamine and serotonin and leads to a feeling of euphoria. It also stimulates the body's central nervous system. Right after taking ecstasy, people experience high blood pressure, dehydration, overheating. Sometimes to the point of death. Ecstasy can actually damage the neurons that produce serotonin. Serotonin has several functions, one of which is moderating your mood. If you don't produce serotonin you may experience a permanently depressed mood. That can be a side effect of ecstasy. So that's the stimulant side, and on the hallucinogen side, ecstasy causes hallucinations and heightened sensations. People often get an artificial feeling of social connectedness and intimacy as well as potentially seeing things that aren't there. So just to recap, like a stimulant ecstasy increases your heart rate and other bodily functions and like a hallucinogen it causes you to perceive things that aren't there. Another popular hallucinogen, really the prototypical hallucinogen, is LSD. LSD like many hallucinogens interferes with serotonin transmission which causes people to experience sensations that didn't actually come from the environment, in other words hallucinations. With LSD, most of the hallucinations are visual as opposed to auditory. So you see things that aren't there rather than hear things that aren't there. Marijuana is also considered a mild hallucinogen though it shares properties with some other types of drugs as well. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC. Which heightens sensitivity to colors, sounds, tastes and smells, that's the hallucinogenic part. Like alcohol though, marijuana reduces inhibition, relaxes the central nervous system, and impairs motor coordination and perceptual skills. So don't smoke marijuana and drive. Marijuana can also disrupt memory formation, and interfere with short term recall. Unlike alcohol however, THC stays in the body for up to a week. Meaning that regular users actually need less of the drug rather than more to achieve the same high. Sometimes marijuana is also used to relieve pain and nausea in medical situations, but just like any medication you have to weigh the potential side effects against the potential benefits. Other medical uses of hallucinogens include treatment for PTSD. Some types of hallucinogens seem to allow people to access painful memories from their past but in a way that's detached from any strong emotional reactions. So this can mean that they can recall a traumatic memory and come to terms with it in a way that's not possible under normal circumstances.