I’m writing a character left for dead in the desert in the Southwest USA. He is dehydrated and starving and eats or drinks something that makes him hallucinate. What can I use?
Dehydration alone can cause decreased level of consciousness, but true hallucinations wouldn’t be likely if the character can still walk. Consider having him come across a cactus; here’s why:
Peyote comes from a species of cactus; the active ingredient is the compound mescaline. Peyote causes visual and auditory hallucinations, lasting from a few hours up to a day. In contrast to LSD, most users are aware of being intoxicated, and peyote isn’t associated with flashbacks. It can be psychologically addictive. The character is likely to emerge without negative after effects related to the peyote itself.
Peyote has been used for centuries, including in Native American religious ceremonies. When cultivated, the cactus is cut off at ground level; the new growth consists of nodules, known as peyote buttons. These can be smoked, chewed, or soaked in liquid to make an extract. Because of its bitter taste, some users dry the plant, powder it, and put it in capsules. Excessive peyote ingestion causes nausea, anxiety, a racing heart, and occasionally delusions, during which the user can do self-harm.
Mescaline (the active compound in peyote) has been synthesized and sold as a drug. Like many illicit substances, it is often cut with other drugs or substances, which can contribute to a toxic ingestion. The unpleasant side effects have limited its popularity.
Kelly has worked in the medical field for over twenty years, mainly at large medical centers. With experience in a variety of settings, chances are Kelly may have seen it.
Sometimes truth seems stranger than fiction in medicine, but accurate medicine in fiction is fabulous.
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