3 Deliriant


The deliriants (or anticholinergics) are a special class of acetylcholine-inhibitor hallucinogen. The term was introduced by David F. Duncan and Robert S. Gold to distinguish these drugs from psychedelics, such as LSD, due to their primary effect being one of inducing a medical state of frank delirium.[1]


The delirium produced is characterized by stupor, utter confusion, confabulation, and regression to "phantom" behaviors such as disrobing and plucking. Other commonly reported behaviors include holding full and lifelike conversations with imagined people, finishing a complex, multi-stage action (such as getting dressed) and then suddenly discovering you had not even begun yet, and being unable to recognize one's own reflection in a mirror.

The effects have been likened to sleepwalking, a fugue state or a psychotic episode (particularly in that the subject has minimal control over their actions and little to no recall of the experience). This is a notable departure from typical hallucinogens.


Included in this group are such Solanaceae plants as deadly nightshade, nutmeg, "floripondio" or feingold angel's trumpet/tears, mandrake, henbane, scopolia and datura (containing tropane alkaloids sometimes referred to as the Belladonna alkaloids), as well as a number of pharmaceutical drugs such as the antihistamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and the antiemetics dimenhydrinate (Dramamine or Gravol) and scopolamine. The chemical warfare agent BZ (3-quinuclidinyl benzilate) is a highly potent anticholinergic military incapacitating agent.

Recreational use

Despite the fully legal status of several common deliriant plants, deliriants are largely unpopular as recreational drugs due to the severe and unpleasant nature of the hallucinations produced.

User reports of recreational deliriant usage on the Erowid website generally indicate a firm unwillingness to repeat the experience. In addition to their potentially dangerous mental effects (accidents during deliriant experiences are common [2]) many tropane alkaloids (such as scopolamine and atropine, the primary alkaloids in Datura stramonium) are highly poisonous and can cause death due to tachycardia-induced heart failure and hyperthermia even in small doses. Other physical effects include intense and painful drying of the eyes and mucous membranes, as well as a pronounced dilation of the pupils which can last for several days resulting in sensitivity to light, blurry vision and inability to read.


Deliriants are commonly featured in European mythology, including the plants mandrake, deadly nightshade, and various datura species.

Classes of Deliriants


  • Tropanes


See also


  1. ^ Duncan, D. F., and Gold, R. S. (1982). Drugs and the Whole Person. New York: John Wiley & Sons
  2. ^ "Datura Items". http://www.lycaeum.org/mv/mu/datura.html. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Deliriant — De*lir i*ant, n. [See {Delirium}.] (Med.) A poison which occasions a persistent delirium, or mental aberration (as belladonna). [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • deliriant —    Also known as true hallucinogen and anticholinergic hallucinogen. The term deliriant comes from the Latin verb delirare, which means to go off the furrow, to derail. It is used to denote a subclass of the hallucinogens characterized by the… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • deliriant — de·lir·i·ant di lir ē ənt adj producing or tending to produce delirium deliriant n a deliriant agent * * * de·lir·i·ant (də lērґe ənt) 1. capable of producing delirium. 2. a drug which may produce delirium. a delirious person …   Medical dictionary

  • deliriant — I. də̇ˈlirēənt, dēˈ adjective Etymology: delirium + ant : producing or tending to produce delirium II. noun ( s) : a deliriant agent …   Useful english dictionary

  • deliriant — /di lear ee euhnt/, adj. 1. involving or causing delirium. n. 2. a substance, as a compound or drug, that causes delirium. [1880 85; DELIRI(UM) + ANT] * * * …   Universalium

  • deliriant — noun that which induces a medical state of frank delirium, usually in reference to a drug …   Wiktionary

  • deliriant — adj. of or pertaining to delirium, causing delirium (temporary mental disorder) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • deliriant — de·lir·i·ant …   English syllables

  • Psychedelic drug — Psychedelic drugs are psychoactive drugs whose primary action is to alter the thought processes of the brain and perception of the mind. The term is derived from the Greek words ψυχή ( psyche , mind ) and δηλείν ( delein , to manifest ),… …   Wikipedia

  • de|lir|i|ant — «dih LIHR ee uhnt», adjective, noun. –adj. causing delirium: »a deliriant drug. –n. a deliriant agent or drug: »Hashish is a deliriant …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.