Stoner flicks and some of the greatest rock music of all time has us thinking that tripping is something we should all be doing. Not so much. Many creative geniuses of our time may have benefited from surreal hallucinogenic experiences when it comes to their art, but these guys are largely in the minority. At the risk of sounding like the square at the party, hallucinations do far more harm than good – even if they allow you to meet a giant blue lion in an enchanted forest (we’ll get to that later).
Drug and alcohol-induced trips aren’t all pretty colours and talking animals, they can spur some people on to carry out shocking crime sprees and spend time in nightmares that they can’t escape from. For every amazing lyric that was ever inspired after a night of getting high, you can bet that there’s also someone who now needs lifelong counselling after one ill-fated trip. Bad trips can leave physical and psychological scars, and that’s not counting those who may have to witness someone tripping.
To quote Mr. Mackey from South Park, “drugs are bad, m’kay?” and these freaky hallucination stories prove exactly why. From horrifically gory acts of violence to being plunged into a world where everyone you know has transformed into an insect, these are some of the most disturbing hallucination stories you will ever come across. (You’ll prefer to give your little old imagination a try after reading some of these). Here are 15 drug and alcohol-related freakouts that no one wants to have.
15. Feasting On A Homeless Man’s Face
We didn’t say this list would be pretty. First off, we have a story of a man that was tripping so intensely, he actually started eating a homeless man’s face. For real. A few years back, a designer drug with similarities to crystal meth known as “bath salts” (or “cloud nine”) was linked to a number of cannibal attacks in the US back in the summer of 2012. And this was one particularly disturbing case of drug-related cannibalism.
Miami resident Rudy Eugene became so heavily tanked on the meth-like substance that he began to eat the face of a poor homeless guy, who he presumably viewed as a three-course meal. Mercifully, things didn’t go any further than this after Eugene was shot by Miami police. What’s incredible is that the homeless victim survived the ordeal, but not before he lost about 75% of his face in the act. Horrific beyond words.
14. Living In A Painting (And A Comic Book)
At first, the idea of walking around in a painting or comic book might sound amazing (especially for any Marvel and DC geeks out there), but even fun hallucinations have their dark side, as one teenager can testify. After taking a 500 microgram hit of LSD with some friends, a 17-year-old boy named Mark started to feel paranoid and set off alone from the group. As he walked down the streets, he watched them “melt and churn” in front of his eyes and remembered feeling like he was “in a Van Gogh painting with comic book characters walking around.”
His delusions then took him to a friend’s home where he asked to have a shower, but the acid tripping out his brain had other plans. The erratic teen became convinced he could fly, began running around the house while being chased by the family’s Saint Bernard (that must’ve looked scary to an acid head in itself) and eventually threw a chair through the window to escape. He stripped naked as he ran home and was thankfully hospitalized. Never mind Van Gogh, this is closer to Salvador Dali territory!
13. Strangling 3-Year-Old Son And Family Dog
Sometimes, the most disturbing thing about drug-induced hallucinations is the violent tendencies it can breed in people. In the best case scenario, tripping has a temporary ichthyological effect on the user and the user alone. The worst case? Hallucinations can send some people on a crime spree and it’s usually their loved ones that get caught needlessly in the crossfire.
Under the influence of a plant-based narcotic called “Khat” (which contains the illegal substance cathinone), a mother named Pamela McCarthy tore her clothes off and set about on a naked rampage in which she punched and choked her 3-year-old son to death. She also attempted to strangle the family’s pet dog, but thankfully police were called to the scene, where she was pepper sprayed and eventually tasered. All in all, her son was killed, a police officer was bitten by her and McCarthy eventually succumbed to a cardiac arrest as a result of both the taser and drugs in her system.
12. Joining The Bug World
Taking acid won’t guarantee your ability to write something as weird as “I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles – but it may cause you to turn into a beetle (the insect, that is, not one of the fab four). This was the experience for a 20-year-old college graduate when he took 125 micrograms of LSD while walking along the beach. What was probably supposed to be a fun experiment soon took him to a creepy…crawly place.
The young man described feeling as if he had been “transported into a never-never land where everybody was a bug with insect faces.” After spending three hours in this “world” where he was quite literally knee-high to a grasshopper and saw snakes “bobbing around every corner,” he started to believe this was his new reality. A friend walking along the beach with him drove him back home and reportedly had to tie him up to stop his tripping friend from jumping out of the car window to escape the creepy crawly kingdom. Nuts!
11. Man Who Tore His Face Off And Fed It To Dogs
If this case sounds familiar, it’s because this horrible act of real-life self-mutilation inspired the novel Hannibal by Thomas Harris and the movie that followed starring Gary Oldman as the patient, Mason Verger. The real-life Verger (named Michael) used the broken shards of a mirror to mutilate himself while on a high dose of PCP. Because of the painkiller-like properties of PCP, Michael was able to literally peel his face off with the broken glass and feed it to his dogs.
In his incredibly psychotic state, he also managed to gouge one of his eyes out with one of the shards of glass! No wonder the author of Silence of the Lambs was inspired by this grisly case for his follow-up novel. One of the underlying effects of taking PCP (particularity in this high dosage) is that your body can feel separated from your environment (and other parts of the body by the sounds of it). *Shudder*
10. Black Eyed Peas Singer Fergie’s Drug Trip Hell
Pop songstress Fergie had a rough time in the early days of her career. Before enjoying massive success with the Black Eyed Peas in the early noughties, the group’s leading lady struggled with a meth addiction for a time and some experiences left her so disturbed and paranoid about her behaviour that she made a deal with God to kick the stuff for good if it meant that she would no longer be followed.
Paranoia is pretty common with most drugs, but Fergie became so paranoid that, every time she did meth, she believed that both the FBI and SWAT teams were tracking her every move. In fact, she was convinced of around “20 conspiracy theories” about why she was being watched. At one point, she admits that she had the windows of her apartment painted black so the FBI couldn’t see her. At her lowest, she shrunk down to 90lbs and believed that a kind stranger offering her a muffin was also “in on it.”
9. When A Regular Forest Becomes Magical
One drug user recalls the moment he and a group of friends decided to take a walk through a forest at 2 am, all while under the influence of ecstasy. Now, exploring a forest at 2 am (even if you were exploring it completely sober) still sounds like a freaky endeavor to us. The pitch black, or the feeling you’re being followed with every leaf rustle and branch crack. But this was ecstasy – so pretty soon, the group found themselves in an enchanted place.
One boy in the group described the moment he saw lots of animals run across his path – one of which was a fluffy blue cat as big as a lion. Nothing screwy so far. The group was supposed to be headed to a log cabin in the woods, but another mysterious house caught their attention instead. Another user in the group suddenly spotted a grand white manor house with intricate details and wondered aloud whether this massive house (that seemingly sprung out of nowhere) had always been in the forest? The boys eventually came to and got their answer.
8. The Feeling Of “Never-Ending”Misery
When American National Geographic journalist Kira Salak visited Peru, she felt compelled to experiment with a strong psychedelic drug called Ayahuasca. This literally translates as “vine of the soul” and was apparently used by tribes in South America for healing purposes and rituals. The highly hallucinogenic drug is taken as a kind of herbal brew, which makes it sound like a very calming and spiritual way to get high – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Salak remembers it as an experience that left her feeling trapped in every sense of the word. The phrase “going to hell and back” is used so often to describe a traumatic incident that it can lose all meaning, but in Kira’s case – this literally applies. She recalls falling into a place of “overwhelming misery where the idea of light seemed inconceivable.” In true hell-like fashion, she recounts “swirling down a tunnel of fire” where figures called out to her in agony, begging to be saved. Oddly, there was an upside to this psychotic episode – Salak’s lifelong depression began to dissolve after her hallucinations!
7. Asking To Be Beaten To Death
In what sounds like a more savage version of Fight Club (if you can imagine such a thing), a young man from Florida actually asked a friend to beat him as hard as he could…as in to death. The man, known simply as David, was whacked out on synthetic marijuana (also known as spice or Scooby Doo) and was found by a friend hitting a baseball bat against a wall. David was hallucinating that he was, in fact, beating up a person and when his friend appeared, he passed the bat to him and asked to be beaten to death.
Obviously, David’s friend did nothing of the sort, but in another frightening incident while high on synthetic weed, David genuinely came close to death. After getting into an argument with another man while under the influence, things escalated pretty quickly and before he knew it, the man had put a gun to David’s head. Thankfully, things didn’t go any further, but David cites that as the moment he decided to quit the stuff for good.
6. Believing You’re An Orange
If you’re familiar with this story, it’s because it has been making the rounds on drug forums and in awareness campaigns for decades now. I even remember my school teacher telling the story as part of a drugs awareness week. Since the case was first discussed by medical professionals in the 1960s as a warning to LSD users, there have been many different versions of this crazy drug incident, but the gist of it seems to be this – a patient who repeatedly used LSD became convinced that he was an orange!
While this initially sounds funny, I remember feeling freaked out for the rest of the school day when my teacher described his hallucinations to the class. In this version at least, the man began peeling and ripping at his own skin violently, as if he were struggling to peel an orange. In other versions found online, the effects of the acid apparently caused the man to believe he was a glass of orange juice and wouldn’t let anyone near him for fear he would spill or someone would try to drink him!
5. Attempted To Eat A Child’s Organs
As this list proves, an alarming number of intoxication cases result in unspeakable acts of violence. If only all trips were limited to harmlessly surreal adventures in the comfort of your bedroom. Sadly, they can alter minds and make people carry out the kinds of things you wouldn’t be able to stomach in a horror movie. One drug-induced murdering spree in 1970 is a prime example of the kind of horrors that could be avoided if there were only a tougher crackdown on drug and alcohol use.
On the night of Sept 4th, 1970, a Canadian logger named Dale Nelson had been on a lethal cocktail of alcohol and LSD when he went on a murderous rampage that killed eight people. During his killing spree, he killed a relative and her child with a knife and fire extinguisher. Afterward, he reportedly attempted to eat the child’s organs. Barbaric. He later moved on to another house where he shot every resident apart from a child, who he raped and then killed.
4. Told By Dead Son To “Kill Seven People”
Grief can make people do strange things, but not many people have the added influence of Class A drugs to act out their misery and hurt. In one case of grief-stricken madness, Australian man Archibald McCafferty went on a murder spree while high on PCP or “angel dust” as it’s more commonly known. McCafferty’s murderous tendencies were first ignited when he lost his son, who was only a few months old.
The grieving father – who is now known as Australia’s worst criminal – initially received psychiatric help, but shortly after leaving the institution, he was inspired by a vision from his dead son. The vision apparently told McCafferty to kill seven people. Working with a gang, McCafferty killed three of the seven victims he planned to and was given multiple life sentences. Allegedly, he later killed a number of fellow prisoners while locked up – a crime that was also drug-fuelled.
3. Suicide Caused By Drink “Spiked” With LSD
This is perhaps one of the saddest and most shocking cases of drug-induced hallucination, simply because there was no intention behind it. Most drug trips are premeditated, but in Frank Olson’s case, he had no desire to get high and it ended up costing him his life. In what is one of the most high-profile cases of acid-related death, Dr. Frank Olson – a US government scientist – was reportedly drugged and killed by the CIA in 1953 after he was given a drink of Brandy laced with LSD.
The effects of taking acid can be disturbing enough for those who have purposefully taken the drug, so Dr. Olson’s mental state must have been one of unimaginable horror. The psychosis he developed as a result of the acid led him to become so disturbed that he jumped from the tenth-floor window of his hotel in New York. Dr. Olson left behind three children – all of whom continue to fight for justice to this day that his death was calculated murder, not an accident as the CIA have always claimed.
2. Surrounded By The “Static Men”
One woman recalls an incredibly creepy incident when she was approached by three demonic figures in the middle of the night, that she describes as the “static men.” These apparitions weren’t static in the sense that they remained perfectly still (which is creepy enough), they appeared static to her because their bodies seemed to be made entirely from the kind of static you’d see on a TV set.
The poor woman apparently felt frozen and unable to move as the three static figures walked closer and closer towards her. The figures were jerking around and their bodies twitched in a disjointed way as if they were malfunctioning in some way. If watching all this while feeling unable to escape wasn’t hellish enough for the victim, she also recalls feeling as if one of the static figures had started to reach inside her chest to squeeze every last breath from her lungs. Freaky AF.
1. Boy George’s Embarrassing Acid Trip
The Culture Club frontman had a pretty embarrassing first-time acid experience when he lost control of his bladder at a nightclub. In itself, losing control of your bodily functions is not an uncommon side effect of taking powerful drugs, but this doesn’t make Boy George’s story any less disturbing. The paranoia and sheer panic that led him to pee himself in public is what’s really scary about the consuming and poisoning effect drugs can have on the mind.
The singer was heading to a club with friends after taking a hit of LSD. After experiencing no effect within an hour, he got bored of waiting and took a second dose. He got his wish for an intense acid trip and he soon began visualizing that everyone was breathing heavily and surrounding him. He also started to become paranoid about the police he had seen outside and felt himself shrinking. The last thing George remembers was watching his face melting in the bathroom mirror of the club, before peeing himself right there and then.