Research, Treatment

Can Drug Tests Detect Psychedelics?

March 25, 2021 10:22 am ET
Can Drug Tests Detect Psychedelics?

Note: Veriheal does not support illegally consuming alternative therapeutic substances but acknowledges that it transpires because of the current illicit status, which we strive to change by advocating for research, legal access, and responsible consumption. Always consult a physician before attempting psychedelic therapy.


Psychedelic drugs are commonly used recreationally and have gained popularity for “their ability to induce states of altered or distorted perception, thought and mood”, according to Dr. Robert Williams and Dr. Timothy Erickson and their evaluation of hallucinogenic or psychedelic drug intoxication. These two doctors explain that these substances can produce sympathomimetic effects (effects of stimulation of sympathetic nerves) such as hyperactivity, mydriasis (dilated pupils), hypertension, tachycardia, and hyperthermia. Regardless, psychedelics are used by over 30 million citizens in America alone. This raises questions among users such as how long it takes for the body to metabolize the drugs and whether or not drug tests detect psychedelics. Before attempting to answer those questions, let’s have a look at what psychedelic drugs are. 

A Quick Overview on Psychedelics

Psychedelic drugs refer to hallucinogens which are psychoactive substances. These hallucinogens can alter one’s perception, mood, and cognition. Psychedelics have an effect on the senses including one’s sense of time and emotions. These substances can induce hallucinations involving sight and hearing. Just like many other drugs, psychedelics can be found naturally in trees, seeds, fungi, and leaves but can also be man-made in laboratories. 

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation explains that psychedelics can bring on a few effects such as increased body temperature, loss of coordination, hallucinations, distorted perceptions, disorganized thoughts, anxiety, paranoia, panic, and euphoria.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, psychedelics are commonly split into two categories: the classics and the dissociatives. The classic psychedelics are hallucinogens that cause visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations, while dissociative psychedelics cause a sense of detachment from the body including the senses. 

Types of Classics:

  • Psilocybin: naturally occurring fungi found in mushrooms. 
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD): naturally occurring ergot substance found in fungi infecting rye but can also be man-made. 
  • Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): similar to psilocybin in the sense that it is an alkaloid from mushrooms but is also commonly made in laboratories. 
  • Lophophora Williamsii and Mescaline (Peyote): made from cacti which have psychedelic properties. 
  • N-methoxybenzyl (NBOMe): synthetic, or man-made substance with similarities to LSD and MDMA.

Types of Dissociatives:

  • Phencyclidine (PCP): synthetic, man-made, substances intended to be prescribed as an anesthetic. 
  • Ketamine: similar to PCP in the sense that it is a prescription anesthetic. 
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM): a substance found in over-the-counter cold medications including cough syrups. 
  • Salvia: a substance from a plant found in Mexico, Central- and South-America. 

Will Drug Tests Detect Psychedelics?

A five-panel urinalysis will typically detect tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cocaine, PCP, amphetamines, and opioids. The following information is based on urine and blood testing. In terms of hair follicle drug tests, psychedelics, or hallucinogens, can be detected up to 90 days after consumption. 

Psychedelic 

Detected on a drug test?

Metabolic Rate

Psilocybin Psilocybin does not show up on routine tests but there are specialized tests that detect them.  The body metabolizes psilocybin within 24 hours after consumption.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) Tests can detect LSD within 8 hours after consumption and up to 4 days after.  The body metabolizes LSD within 48 hours after consumption. 
Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) DMT is not part of the standard drug tests but can be found in specialized urine shortly after consumption.  The body metabolizes DMT around 24 hours after consumption. 
Lophophora Williamsii and Mescaline (Peyote) Peyote can be detected in urine and blood between 24 hours and 3 days after consumption. A saliva test can detect peyote within 10 days after consumption.  The body metabolizes peyote at different rates depending on individual metabolism and can take from 2 days to 3 months. 
N-methoxybenzyl (NBOMe) NBOMe is not part of standard drug testing and requires specialized tests for detection.  This substance is synthetic acid, or LSD, and can take up to 48 hours to metabolize. 
Phencyclidine (PCP) PCP can be picked up in standard drug testing, including 5-, 10- and 12- panel drug tests commonly used by employers. PCP is metabolized by the body between 24 hours and two weeks.
Ketamine Ketamine is not detected in standard testing and requires specialized testing for detection.  The body metabolizes ketamine between 1 and 3 days but is detectable up to 30 days. 
Dextromethorphan (DXM) DXM can be detected in most drug tests but may return a false positive for PCP or Opioids.  The body metabolizes DXM between 24 and 48 hours. 
Salvia Salvia does not show up in standard drug tests and requires specialized testing for detection.  The metabolism rates are unclear but are thought to have a very short half-live since it clears from the body quickly- hypothesized to be around 12 hours. 

Despite these general detection times and metabolism rates, there are factors that can impact how long a psychedelic drug stays in the body, as well as how long after consumption it can be detected. 

Factors That Influence Detection Times:

  • Age
  • Weight And Body Mass
  • Hydration Levels
  • Physical Activity
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Frequency Of Drug Use
  • Quantity Of Drug Use

While psychedelics such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and peyote are largely considered safe recreational drugs, consumers should still be wary and try to limit their consumption of psychedelics especially those that are man-made, or synthetic due to the risk of long-term health risks. When used appropriately, psilocybin and many other psychedelic types are thought to have great potential for their therapeutic properties. Psychedelics for recreational use are best used with extreme caution and care.  

Post Your Comments

Chris says:

March 28, 2021 at 9:47 am

Nice article, Thank You! Can you post informative info on how long cannabis stays in your system and how long it takes to metabolize. I hear many different theories. Thank You!

Reply
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