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Clinical Applications of Hallucinogens: A Review

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Abstract

Hallucinogens fall into several different classes, as broadly defined by pharmacological mechanism of action, and chemical structure. These include psychedelics, entactogens, dissociatives, and other atypical hallucinogens. Although these classes do not share a common primary mechanism of action, they do exhibit important similarities in their ability to occasion temporary but profound alterations of consciousness, involving acute changes in somatic, perceptual, cognitive, and affective processes. Such effects likely contribute to their recreational use. However, a growing body of evidence indicates that these drugs may have therapeutic applications beyond their potential for abuse. This review will present data on several classes of hallucinogens with a particular focus on psychedelics, entactogens, and dissociatives, for which clinical utility has been most extensively documented. Information on each class is presented in turn, tracing relevant historical insights, highlighting similarities and differences between the classes from the molecular to the behavioral level, and presenting the most up-to-date information on clinically oriented research with these substances, with important ramifications for their potential therapeutic value.

Garcia-Romeu, A., Kersgaard, B., & Addy, P. H. (2016). Clinical applications of hallucinogens: A review. Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology, 24(4), 229. 10.1037/pha0000084
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