Known for its neuropsychiatric side effects, Sustiva (efavirenz) shares properties with LSD, according to a new research study. Potential side effects of Sustiva include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, aggression, night terrors, hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis and delusions. In addition, anecdotal reports have suggested that people with HIV, as well as HIV-negative young people, crush the drug and smoke the powder in order to get high. In order to better understand the cause of the drug’s hallucinogenic effects, investigators conducted a study of how Sustiva interacts with various receptors in rat, rabbit and human cells; they also looked at the behavioral effects of the drugs when given to living rats and mice. Their findings were reported in Neuropsychopharmacology.

They found that Sustiva interacted with multiple receptors that are known sites governing the effects of drugs, including catecholamine and indoleamine transporters, and GABAA and 5-HT2A receptors. In particular, the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor, which is a main target for LSD and other related hallucinogens, appeared to be the dominant conduit for Sustiva’s drug-trip effects in rats.

To read a release on the study, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.