From PsychonautWiki
(Redirected from Deliriants)
Jump to: navigation, search
Deliriants by Anonymous DEL user - This image represents the sinister external hallucinations commonly induced by deliriants.

Deliriants are a class of hallucinogen that are unique in that, even with lower doses, they offer solid hallucinations which display themselves seamlessly into waking consciousness, similar to fully formed dreams or delusions. In contrast, classical psychedelics and dissociatives have progressive levels of multiple all-encompassing sensory effects before reaching the level of concrete hallucination.

The term deliriant was introduced by David F. Duncan and Robert S. Gold to distinguish these drugs from psychedelics and dissociatives such as LSD and ketamine respectively, due to their primary effect of causing delirium, as opposed to the more lucid states produced by other types of hallucinogen.[1] The term is generally used to refer to anticholinergic drugs.

Despite the fully legal status of several common deliriant plants and drugs, substances which fall under this class are largely unpopular as recreational drugs due to the severe and unpleasant nature of the hallucinations produced.[2] In addition to their potentially dangerous mental effects (accidents during deliriant experiences are common),[3] certain deliriants are poisonous and can cause death due to tachycardia-induced heart failure and hyperthermia even in small doses.[4]

Method of action

Deliriants work via anticholinergic activity and their antagonistic action on acetylcholine receptors. Inhibition through this mechanism leads to decreased levels of acetylcholine, causing delirium, sedation, tachycardia and intensely realistic hallucinations. However, the precise role of these interactions and how they result in the deliriant experience continues to remain elusive.

It is theorized that cholinergics (such as racetams) can provide relief from the mechanisms of anticholinergics,[5] such as reversing their amnesiatic and psychosis-inducing effects. This is possible by restoring sufficient concentrations of acetylcholine.[6][7]

In contrast, cannabis and caffeine have a reverse effect by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of acetylcholine. This leads to increased levels of acetylcholine, and, in turn, improved cognition and stimulation; as a result, both cannabis and caffeine have an inhibitory effect on deliriants.

Subjective effects

The effects listed below are based upon the subjective effects index and personal experiences of PsychonautWiki contributors. These effects should be taken with a grain of salt and will rarely (if ever) occur all at once, but heavier doses will increase the chances of inducing a full range of effects. Likewise, adverse effects become much more likely on higher doses and may include serious injury or death.

Visual effects

Pharmacological classes

See also


  1. Duncan, D. F., and Gold, R. S. (1982). Drugs and the Whole Person. New York: John Wiley & Sons
  2. Grinspoon, Lester and Bakalar, James B. (1997). Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered. The Lindesmith Center
  3. Datura Items |
  4. Kathleen M Beaver, Thomas J Gavin, Treatment of acute anticholinergic poisoning with physostigmine, The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Volume 16, Issue 5, September 1998, Pages 505-507, ISSN 0735-6757, 10.1016/S0735-6757(98)90003-1. (ScienceDirect) |
  5. The use of a scopolamine model to study the potential nootropic effects of aniracetam and piracetam in healthy volunteers. |
  6. Reversal of scopolamine-induced amnesia and alterations in energy metabolism by the nootropic piracetam: implications regarding identification of brain structures involved in consolidation of memory traces. |
  7. Effects of acute doses of oxiracetam in the scopolamine model of human amnesia. |