The Immediate Impact: Short-Term Effects of Peyote

Learn more about the short-term effects of peyote and how to get treatment for peyote addiction here.


Often, when we talk about substance abuse and its dangerous effects, we often refer to common drugs. Examples include drugs like cocaine, fentanyl, and even opioid prescription drugs like oxycodone.

But, the fact is that there are lots of substances that are abused around the world. Often, these substances are the target of abuse because they have some sort of CNS activity. One common example of a “not-so-commonly” talked about and often misused substance is peyote.

short-term effects of peyote

What to Expect from This Article

Peyote misuse is actually quite common. But, its use isn’t without risks. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what peyote is and why it is used. 

We’ll consider the question, “Is peyote addictive?” We will also explore the short-term effects of peyote use, as well as the long-term ones. 

So what is peyote, and what are the short-term effects of peyote use? Read on to find out.

Short-Term Effects of Peyote: What is Peyote?

The peyote plant is known scientifically as Lophophora williamsii. It is a small, spineless cactus native to the arid regions of Mexico. It is also native to the southwestern United States.1
Peyote has been recognized for centuries for its powerful psychoactive properties. This psychoactivity is attributed to a compound it contains known as mescaline.

What is Mescaline?

Mescaline’s chemical structure is also similar to that of the more well-known psychedelic, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). But, you should know that they belong to different classes of hallucinogens. 

In addition to mescaline, peyote contains other alkaloids, although in much smaller quantities. These alkaloids may contribute to peyote’s overall psychoactive profile. But, their individual effects are less well-studied and understood than mescaline.

How Does Mescaline Work?

Mescaline works by influencing the brain’s serotonin and dopamine pathways. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and social behavior. 

It also helps in regulating:

  • Appetite
  • Digestion
  • Sleep
  • Memory
Dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward systems in the brain. Mescaline’s interaction with these pathways leads to its psychoactive effects. These include hallucinations and altered states of consciousness.

Mescaline Concentration Can Vary

It’s also worth mentioning that the concentration of mescaline and other alkaloids can vary in peyote plants. 
The concentration present often depends on several factors. Some of these include:
  • The age of the plant
  • Where it is grown
  • The time of year it gets harvested

Despite the variation, mescaline remains the predominant psychoactive component. It’s responsible for the long and short-term effects of peyote. 

These effects start to manifest about one to two hours after ingestion and can last for about twelve hours.

Short-Term Effects of Peyote: Why is Peyote Used?

Peyote use spans several dimensions: cultural, religious, medicinal, and recreational. 
Here are some reasons for peyote use:

Cultural and Religious Uses

Peyote has been used for thousands of years by indigenous peoples in Mexico. It has also been used by people in the southwestern United States. In these places, peyote gets used for spiritual and religious purposes. 
In these contexts, peyote consumption is part of deeply ingrained cultural traditions. It often takes place within ceremonial settings. The Native American Church, for instance, incorporates peyote into its religious practices as a sacrament.2
Users often report spiritual revelations and increased self-awareness. They also report profound personal insights following the use of peyote. They view it as a path to spiritual enlightenment and healing. 

Medicinal Uses

Traditional medicinal uses of peyote are well-documented in the anthropological record. Indigenous groups have used it to treat a range of ailments. 
These include conditions like:
  • Toothache
  • Skin wounds
  • Childbirth pain
  • Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression
Today, some modern research is exploring peyote’s potential therapeutic uses. But, it’s important to note that these uses are currently not widely recognized in the medical community.

Recreational Uses

Peyote gets used recreationally for its psychoactive properties. Users seek the intense and vivid hallucinations it produces. They also use it to experience the changes in perception and alteration of thought processes that mescaline induces. 
These experiences are often referred to as ‘trips.’ They can be intensely personal and can be accompanied by feelings of joy, anxiety, or even fear.3

Psychological Exploration

Some people use peyote as a tool for self-exploration and personal growth. They argue that the altered states of consciousness that peyote induces can lead to significant insights. They also argue that it enhances creativity and leads to personal growth. 
But, there is always the very real danger of serious long-term and short-term effects of peyote on health and well-being.

Short-Term Effects of Peyote: Is Peyote Addictive?

The potential for addiction to peyote is a complex topic. This is because peyote addiction follows a somewhat different process. 
This is compared to substances like:
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Opioids
  • Certain stimulants
It is also worth mentioning that the addictive potential of peyote is considered to be lower. But, this doesn’t mean that usage is without risks or potential consequences. Let’s explain.

What is Addiction?

Firstly, it’s important to understand what addiction entails. Addiction’s characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. 
It often involves not just a psychological, but also a physical reliance on the substance. As such, withdrawal symptoms often occur upon cessation of use. 

What is Addictive Potential?

When we talk about the addictive potential of a substance, we often look at the following:
  • Does it cause physical dependence?
  • Does it cause withdrawal symptoms?

Addictive Potential of Peyote

Peyote and its active compound, mescaline, do not often lead to physical dependence or withdrawal. Users don’t develop a tolerance to the hallucinogenic effects of mescaline. This is in comparison to the same way they might with alcohol or opioids. 

As such, they won’t and don’t need to take increasing amounts to achieve the same effects. Also, there are no specific withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping peyote use. 

This is another thing that distinguishes it from substances like alcohol and opioids. But, this doesn’t mean peyote is safe to use.

Psychological Addiction to Peyote

While physical addiction to peyote is uncommon, it’s possible for a psychological addiction to develop. This means a person may come to rely on the altered states of consciousness that peyote produces. 
They begin to see peyote use as a way of dealing with stress, emotional pain, or other aspects of their life. This kind of psychological addiction can be challenging to overcome and may need professional help.

Why is Peyote Addictive?

As mentioned earlier, mescaline acts on the brain’s serotonin and dopamine systems. By influencing these neurotransmitter systems, it interferes with and alters mood regulation and reward. 

Thus, mescaline can produce pleasurable feelings and profound perceptual changes. Over time, a user may start to crave these experiences. This can lead to repeated use and potential psychological dependence.

Peyote Addiction: Uncommon, but Possible

While the risk of physical addiction to peyote is low, the possibility of psychological addiction exists. This psychological addiction can, in turn, lead to negative long and short-term effects of peyote use.
Are you currently dealing with peyote addiction? Are you struggling with the long and short-term effects of peyote use? If you are, you should seek professional advice as soon as possible. Choice House is here to help you.

Short-Term Effects of Peyote: How Does It Interact with Common Psychiatric Medications?

As mentioned earlier, peyote contains mescaline, a constituent that demonstrates significant activity in the CNS. 
These effects can include alteration in mood regulation and hallucinations. So it’s unsurprising that peyote can interfere with the activities of common psychiatric medication. 

Peyote’s Interactions with Other Medications

The effects of the interaction of peyote with common psychiatric medications can be divided into two main types. 

These include the following:

  • Short-term effects of peyote
  • Long-term effects of peyote

Short-Term Effects of Peyote and Its Interaction with Common Psychiatric Medications

Understanding the interactions between peyote and common psychiatric medications is crucial for health and safety. This is because these interactions can alter the short-term effects of peyote and potentially lead to serious side effects. 

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

These are often prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. 

Peyote’s primary active component, mescaline, acts on the same serotonin receptors in the brain. Co-administration can lead to altered and potentially intensified short-term effects of peyote. It’s also possible that some SSRIs and SNRIs could diminish the psychedelic effects of peyote.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

These are a class of antidepressants that work by inhibiting monoamine oxidase activity. Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme that breaks down serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain.4
Combining MAOIs with peyote might increase the intensity of the short-term effects of peyote. This is due to increased levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. This combination could lead to a dangerous condition known as serotonin syndrome. 

Serotonin Syndrome Symptoms

Serotonin syndrome is characterized by the following symptoms:
  • High body temperature
  • Agitation
  • Increased reflexes
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea


These are prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. They enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA. 
This leads to the following properties:
  • Sedative
  • Hypnotic (sleep-inducing)
  • Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Muscle relaxant

The interaction between benzodiazepines and peyote isn’t well studied. But, it’s conceivable that the calming and sedative effects of benzodiazepines could counteract some of the stimulating short-term effects of peyote.


These medications are used to manage psychosis, including delusions, hallucinations, and bipolar disorder. They primarily block dopamine receptors but can also affect serotonin receptors. 

Given that peyote acts on the serotonin system, antipsychotics could diminish the short-term effects of peyote. 

Furthermore, using peyote while on antipsychotics could worsen mental health conditions. It could also trigger a psychotic episode in susceptible individuals.


This is often used in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Its exact mechanism of action isn’t fully understood, but it’s known to affect the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine systems. 

It’s hypothesized that lithium could potentiate the short-term effects of peyote. This could lead to unpredictable effects or toxicity. 

It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before using peyote. This is especially important if you’re on any medications.

Long-Term Effects of Peyote Use

The long-term effects of peyote use can be distinct from those seen in the short term. They can also be a lot more dangerous. This is because chronic use of peyote and psychiatric medications can lead to changes in brain structure and function over time. 
This could, in turn, exacerbate mental health conditions. It could also lead to altered perceptions and cognitive function, as well as several other severe side effects.
short-term effects of peyote

Short-Term Effects of Peyote: Symptoms of Peyote Use

Peyote can induce a range of psychological and physical effects. These effects can vary depending on:
  • The individual
  • The amount ingested
  • The setting in which it’s used

Psychological Symptoms

The psychological symptoms of peyote use may include:
  • Hallucinations: One of the primary effects of peyote is inducing vivid visual and auditory hallucinations. Users might see patterns, colors, and images. They might also hear sounds that don’t exist in reality.
  • Altered Perception of Time: Peyote users often report a distorted sense of time. Minutes can feel like hours or vice versa.
  • Emotional Intensity: Peyote use can lead to heightened emotional experiences. These range from euphoria and a sense of universal understanding to fear and paranoia.
  • Altered Thought Processes: Peyote can lead to changes in thought patterns and introspection. This can cause users to think more deeply or abstractly about their lives and the world.
  • Spiritual Experiences: Many people report profound spiritual or mystical experiences while under the influence of peyote. This includes feelings of enlightenment, unity, or transcendence.

Physical Symptoms

Below are the physical symptoms of peyote use.

Nausea and Vomiting

These are common side effects of peyote use. They often occur soon after ingestion.

Increased Body Temperature and Sweating

Peyote can cause a rise in body temperature, leading to sweating.

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Peyote can stimulate the cardiovascular system. This leads to an elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

Coordination Problems

Peyote can affect motor skills, leading to clumsiness or difficulty moving.

Pupil Dilation

This is a common physical symptom of many hallucinogens, including peyote.

Appetite Suppression

Peyote can decrease hunger, leading to reduced food intake during its effects.
Peyote use can also be accompanied by severe symptoms like:
  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Psychotic reactions
  • Psychological distress

Find Help for Short-Term Effects of Peyote at Choice House

Are you currently struggling with the negative long and short-term effects of peyote use? If you are and you’re looking for help in Boulder, Colorado, Choice House is here for you. 
At Choice House, we offer a range of evidence-based treatments in the best treatment setting possible. You’ll be able to enjoy a safe and effective recovery experience rooted in honesty, integrity, and a commitment to change. 

Reach out to us today and choose a life free from peyote addiction.

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