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Unfortunately, for some, college life includes experimentation with drugs. Below are some of the most common drugs that are often used.


Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the US. It comes from the plant Cannabis sativa and is a greenish-gray mixture of shredded leaves, seeds, flowers and stems. It is smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Effects of marijuana include increased heart rate and panic attacks and impaired memory. It also leads to respiratory infections.


LSD is Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, which is the most powerful conscious-altering substance known to man. It leads to hallucinations, which may cause you to hear things, or result in delusions, making you believe that you can fly. LSD profoundly alters and expands consciousness by loosening or completely erasing normal filters and screens between your conscious mind and the outside world.

The following are effects of LSD:

  • Dilated (large) pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Rambling or strange speech
  • Sweating Rapid mood changes
  • Panic and/or heightened anxiety response
  • Erratic, unpredictable behavior

WHAT is a bad trip?

A bad trip gives intense feelings of paranoia, sensations of dying, fear and anxiety. It can leave you in a deeply uncomfortable and traumatic state, giving threatening or frightening visual hallucinations such as those involving spiders, blood, insects, monsters or skulls.

WHAT should you do under these circumstances?

To help someone with a bad trip, you should change something, such as the location, music or light. Reassure them that they have taken a drug, the trip will end and that they will be okay. Bad trippers often feel caught in eternity. Help them relax and focus by taking deep breaths. Don’t leave them alone but don’t crowd them either, giving them time to react.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

MDMA is a synthetic drug with both psychedelic and stimulant effects, consumed orally in pill form. It is often used at club settings, but has been increasing used in college dorms. These tablets come in a variety of colors and sizes, and the effects of ecstasy can last between 4-6 hours. The effects include muscle tension, depression, sweating and faintness, damaging parts of the brain.


Cocaine can be found as a white powder or as crack, a chunky material. It can be smoked, injected or snorted and is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant. Physical effects include increased temperature and blood pressure. It can also result in irritability, coughing and chest pains.


Heroin can be injected, smoked or snorted, and is the most rapidly acting of the opiates. Heroin is generally found in powder form, varying from white, to dark brown, to black. It can leave you in a drowsy state, as well as a flushing of the skin. Long-term effects include overdose and impaired mental functioning.

Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybin mushrooms are fungi that contain two psychoactive compounds: psilocybin and psilocin. It causes feelings of nausea before the desired mental effects appear. The high is mild and may cause altered feelings and distorted perceptions of touch, sight, sound and taste. Effects can be different during each use due to varying potency, the amount ingested, and the user’s expectations, mood, surroundings and frame of mind. The trips differ; it may lead to enjoyable sensations or terrifying thoughts and anxiety of insanity, death or losing control.


If you or someone else is struggling with an alcohol or drug abuse problem, please call the Caltech Counseling Center at 626-395-8331.