Peyote Use: Side Effects, Risks & Addiction

There are several naturally occurring psychoactive substances available throughout the country. Some of which, such as peyote, possess a greater risk of use than others.

In this article, we will dive deeper into what peyote is, where it comes from, and what effects it produces. We will also discuss addiction potential and where to seek treatment.

What is Peyote?

Peyote is a small cactus plant that contains a psychoactive hallucinogenic known as mescaline.1 Mescaline is the main psychedelic compound in the cactus.1 Mescaline can either directly consumed or extracted from the peyote plant or produced in a lab synthetically.1

Though peyote and many other hallucinogens are not associated with significant physical dependence, repeated use can quickly lead to tolerance, necessitating increasingly large doses to feel anything Though many hallucinogenic drugs have less pronounced rewarding effects than those associated with more commonly abused substances like alcohol or opioids, compulsive or problematic use of peyote may be part of what’s known as a hallucinogen use disorder.”2,3,4

The peyote cactus grows in the American Southwest and Mexico.3

Common Peyote Street Names

On the street, peyote goes by various names, such as:1

  • Buttons.
  • Cactus.
  • Mesc.
  • Peyoto.

Is Mescaline Legal?

Generally, no. Peyote is a Schedule I controlled substance, making its use illegal in the United States. However, an exception is made for religious ceremonies conducted by Native American Church members.1,5

Peyote Side Effects

Peyote is a classic hallucinogen, and its effects will be somewhat similar to other drugs in the same class such as LSD or “magic mushrooms” (psilocybin).1, 3

Peyote Effects On The Brain

Peyote use can result in visual or auditory hallucinations.3 The drug can produce a phenomenon known as synesthesia, where an individual may experience alterations in perception such as hearing colors or seeing sounds.8

Other potential short-term psychological peyote effects include:1,9

  • Euphoria.
  • Anxiety.
  • Altered thought processes.
  • Distorted perception of space and time.
  • Distortion in how the body feels (e.g., weightlessness).
  • More intense sensory experiences (seeing brighter colors, hearing more acutely, etc.).
  • Altered sense of reality (e.g., sense of being able to communicate with deities and/or transcend the earth).

Physical Effects Of Peyote

This substance can have physical side effects in addition to its profound psychological effects. Physical peyote risks and potential effects may include:1,4 ,9

  • Dilated pupils.
  • Fever.
  • Tingling skin.
  • Sweating.
  • Excessive salivation.
  • Raised blood pressure.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Dizziness.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Severe nausea/vomiting.
  • Lowered appetite.
  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Diarrhea.

Are There Long-Term Effects of Peyote Use?

Woman having flashback after taking peyote

The long-term physical and psychological peyote side effects have not been extensively investigated; however, it is known that just one use can produce some negative long-term effects in some users.

Even when a person isn’t on the drug, the person may hallucinate, or have a “flashback.” The occurrence of flashbacks is known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).3

Though extremely rare, hallucinogen use may also lead to persistent psychosis, characterized by:3

  • Disorganized thoughts.
  • Visual disturbances.
  • Mood changes.
  • Paranoia.

Persistent psychosis and HPPD can sometimes occur together, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.This is one of the greatest peyote dangers a person can experience.

Can You Become Dependent or Addicted to Peyote?

While peyote does not appear to be associated with physical dependence, a person can certainly use peyote compulsively despite the negative consequences, which is the hallmark of addiction. The inability to stop using hallucinogens such as peyote is referred to clinically as a hallucinogen use disorder.  Signs and symptoms of such a substance use disorder include:2

  • Taking a hallucinogen like peyote more often or in higher amounts than intended.
  • Wanting to stop using but not succeeding.
  • Spending a lot of time getting hallucinogens, using them, or recovering from them.
  • Craving or strongly desiring hallucinogens.
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at home, school, or work because of hallucinogens.
  • Continuing to use hallucinogens despite relationship conflicts that are created or worsened by use.
  • Giving up important activities (social, professional, or recreational) to use hallucinogens.
  • Using hallucinogens when doing so could be hazardous, such as prior to operating machinery.
  • Continuing hallucinogen use despite knowing that it causes or worsens physical or mental health problems.
  • Needing to take more and more to get the desired effects (tolerance).

Hallucinogen Misuse Treatment in Texas

If you or someone you love is experiencing problems related to compulsive peyote use, other hallucinogens, or any other drug, we are here for you. Greenhouse Treatment Center’s team of qualified and compassionate staff members can help you attain recovery and learn the skills you’ll need to sustain it once you leave our facility. Call us right now at to learn more about our inpatient rehab near Dallas, including the levels of addiction treatment we offer, the treatment admissions process, insurance coverage, and handling the cost of rehab.

More on Hallucinogens


  1. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). Peyote & Mescaline.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders(5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs.
  4. Miller, S. C., Fiellin, D. A., Rosenthal, R. N., & Saitz, R. (2019). The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine, Sixth Edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
  5. United States Department of Justice. (1981). Peyote Exemption for Native American Church.
  6. Sink, M. (2004). Peyote, Indian Religion and the Issue of Exclusivity. New York Times.
  7. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act.
  8. Luke, D. P., & Terhune, D. B. (2013). The induction of synaesthesia with chemical agents: a systematic reviewFrontiers in psychology4, 753.
  9. Dinis-Oliveira, R. J., Pereira, C. L., & da Silva, D. D. (2019). Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Aspects of Peyote and Mescaline: Clinical and Forensic RepercussionsCurrent molecular pharmacology12(3), 184–194.
  10. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables.
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