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How to Help a Peyote Addict

Where Does Peyote Come From?

The psychoactive drug peyote is a variety of cactus that grows in the southwestern region of the United States and Mexico. The top of this cactus features small discs, often called “buttons,” which contain a psychoactive chemical called mescaline. Mescaline is classified as a hallucinogen—the same class of drugs that includes LSD, DMT, and psilocybin. As with other psychedelic substances in this class, the consumption of peyote will produce a number of characteristic psychoactive effects.

Peyote has a long history of ceremonial use by those who believed the cactus imparted magical powers or abilities granted by their gods.

Today, peyote is a drug of abuse that people consume by:1

  • Chewing the buttons.
  • Drinking a tea made from soaking it in water.
  • Smoking the ground buttons with marijuana or tobacco.

Others will abuse syntheticallyproduced mescaline in powder, tablet, capsule, or liquid form.1

In the U.S., peyote and mescaline are schedule I drugs—they are illegal to possess or consume in all situations, with the exception being occasional use of peyote by Native Americans for religious and cultural purposes.1 The drug can produce florid hallucinogenic effects when used. The accompanying disturbances in perception and mild depersonalization could potentially land the intoxicated individual in hazardous situations.

How Do I Know if I Need Help?

While peyote may not be addictive in the same manner that drugs like opioids are, abusing it can lead to a similar set of problems that addiction to any other drug causes, and the signs that you need help are essentially the same.

You may have a problem with peyote if you:1,2,3

Stressed man thinking about getting help for peyote addiction
  • Have been investing more time and money to get and use peyote.
  • Spend a big portion of your time getting, using, and recovering from peyote.
  • Notice increased conflicts with friends or find yourself isolating yourself more often.
  • Feel decreased satisfaction with life when you are not using.
  • Have tried to end use without success.
  • Use peyote in lieu of other responsibilities or hobbies that you used to enjoy.

You may also find that you need help if you are noticing that the side effects of peyote are causing damage to your physical and mental health:1,2

  • Hallucinations and distorted vision, like seeing music or hearing colors.
  • Increased feelings of joy and pleasure.
  • Higher blood pressure and body temperature.
  • Lack of motor coordination.

The use of classic hallucinogens like peyote has been associated with the development of persistent psychosis, as well as a phenomenon known as Hallucinogen-Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD). Both are rare to develop, but they can cause long-term problems for the individual. Symptoms seen in cases of persistent psychosis and HPPD include:2

  • Spontaneous and recurring flashbacks.
  • Recurrent hallucinations.
  • Visual distortions, such as halos and light-trails.
  • Mood changes.
  • Disorganized thinking.
  • Signs that mimic neurologic deficits of strokes or brain tumors.

How to Approach a Peyote Addict

If you suspect that a person in your life is abusing peyote, you may be wondering what you can do to help the problem and get your loved one into recovery. Though you are not responsible for their use, you will need to do some work to handle the situation appropriately. Starting a confrontation spontaneously can damage your relationship and may even worsen the problem.

3-Part Approach

Consider an approach made up of 3 parts:

  • Education.
  • Differentiation.
  • Communication.

Education. When you want to make a change in the life of someone you care about, it helps immensely to get information. First, understand the prominent or visible symptoms your loved one may experience so that you know when they are using and also what you’ll need to consider as you communicate. For example, when someone is high on peyote they may be distracted or have difficulty engaging in conversation; attempting to approach them during or shortly after use won’t be effective.

Differentiation. Substance abuse and mental illness can share many symptoms and effects, especially when the substance is peyote. The hallucinogenic effects may appear similar to a number of mental health symptoms related to diagnoses like:4

  • Brief psychotic disorder.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Schizoaffective disorder.

Hallucinations can occur during major mood episodes associated with depression and bipolar disorder.4

To better approach your loved one, it will be important to differentiate if the symptoms have peyote or mental illness as the source. If both are present, you may wish to guide your loved one into a program that treats dual diagnosis conditions (co-occurring addiction and mental health issues).

Communication. When approaching your loved one, it will be crucial to maintain a calm and steady disposition. Reacting with anger or other strong emotions can quickly cause the conversation to devolve into a fight and may cause your loved one to retreat further into substance use.

When communicating your concerns, try these tips:3,5

  • Have a plan for what you wish to communicate. Don’t wing it.
  • Find a time when they are not intoxicated or highly emotional.
  • Come from a stance of love, support, and teamwork instead of acting harsh or judgmental.
  • Speak in encouraging terms while emphasizing their redeeming qualities.
  • Ask questions to try to understand their perspective and struggles.
  • Discuss your fears, potential consequences of their behavior, and your intention to stay consistent.
  • Stress the need for professional substance abuse treatment.


If you do not feel comfortable with or capable of this type of communication, you may be a candidate for CRAFT. Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) is a treatment protocol that involves people who are impacted by the substance use of someone close to them. Rather than focusing on the person using peyote, CRAFT focuses on the concerned significant other (CSO) and teaches them:6

  • Ways to identify current substance use.
  • To acknowledge the role they play in their loved one’s use.
  • Methods to reward sobriety and positive actions.
  • To allow natural consequences to occur without intervening.
  • How to improve quality and quantity of communication.
  • To minimize distress and promote their self-care.
  • To encourage and support treatment.


An intervention, whether familial or professional, is another way to encourage treatment for someone who is abusing drugs. It is a planned, structured meeting that includes people who are central to the addict’s life telling the individual about the hardships associated with their use.

Group of people in a circle comforting friend

Rather than providing support and patience, an intervention uses peer pressure and the threat of negative consequences to spark a commitment to treatment.

It must be noted that interventions can lead to feelings of anger and potential aggression or violence due to the confrontational nature of the meeting and the potential for strong emotions from all involved.

For the best potential outcome, consider contacting a professional interventionist. This is a person who is experienced in conducting interventions and who has the skills to guide the meeting and direct people in more productive ways.3

Receive 24/7 text support at your convenience with American Addiction Centers. Our team is well prepared to advise on all things treatment and help you find the care you need. We’ve helped thousands recover from addiction and we can help you too.

Peyote Addiction Treatment Types

Although there are no specific treatments designed and utilized specifically for peyote addiction, people abusing peyote will benefit from a number of behavioral therapies, including:7

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a treatment style used with a number of mental health, physical health, and substance use issues. This therapy works to build connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to understand how they contribute to substance use and avoid relapse.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI). MI has the goal of increasing the amount of intrinsic motivation a person has to end their substance use by emphasizing the differences between what the person says they want and what they actually do.
  • Family therapy. When the entire family unit is engaged in therapy, each person can make adjustments to aid in the treatment and recovery of the person abusing peyote. Also, this can help family members recognize their contributions towards relapse and recovery.
  • Contingency management (CM). A contrasting style to MI, CM provides many external rewards for engaging in activities associated with recovery, such as attending appointments, working, planning healthy community activities, and staying free from substances.

Since quitting peyote is not associated with any dangerous withdrawal symptoms, the above treatments can be performed on an outpatient basis without the need for any detoxification or medical interventions. This situation changes, though, if the person is concurrently abusing other drugs, is enduring a “bad trip” (marked by intense hallucinations), or is suffering from persistent psychosis. In this case, some form of residential or inpatient substance abuse help may be required.8

Find Peyote Treatment Programs

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available and recovery is possible. Professional treatment can start anyone battling a substance use problem on the path to a healthier and happier life. Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and a variety of treatment types is available. You can use SAMHSA’s Find Treatment tool to search for facilities that treat peyote addiction. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted rehab programs across the country. For helpful advice, information, and admissions, please contact a caring AAC representative free at . You can contact us at any time, day or night, and all calls are confidential.

American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly using the form below if your health insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

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