2C-I | What Are the Drug Effects of This Psychedelic?

Medically Reviewed

The 2C-I drug is a psychoactive stimulant that’s used to mimic the effects of MDMA. It also has significant psychedelic effects, but unlike naturally occurring DMT, mushrooms, and peyote, 2C-I was created in a lab along with dozens of other similar drugs. 2C-I isn’t a common street drug today, but it can be found among dozens of other designer drugs that are intended to stand in for Molly. However, many of these illicit substances and their analogs are more dangerous than the drugs they are designed to copy.

Learn more about 2C-I and its effects as a psychedelic street drug.

What Are Designer Drugs?

The psychedelic drug 2C-I is one of many designer drugs that can be found on the street and purchased through black market sources. Designer drugs are psychoactive chemical substances that are designed to have an effect that’s similar to an established recreational drug.

In many cases, they are analogs of the original drug, which are slightly altered chemical structures with similar effects to the original. Designer drugs are often produced with another popular drug that is outlawed, banned, or more rigorously regulated. Designer drugs are created in two different ways.

They may be existing drugs that were created for scientific purposes and then commandeered by people that want to use them for their psychoactive effects. If there isn’t a viable drug analog, designer drugs may be produced in clandestine laboratories to circumvent drug laws.

Designer drugs are produced to be sold to recreational drug users after a similar drug is made illegal. For instance, drugs like 2C-I became more popular when MDMA was banned in 1985. A drug called 2C-B was used to mimic the effects of MDMA until it was also outlawed in the early 2000s. Then, 2C-I took its place as a go-to designer replacement. It too was made illegal with the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012.

What Is The 2C-I Drug?

The 2C-I drug is a psychedelic substance that falls into the category of phenethylamines, which are organic compounds that act as central nervous system stimulants. 2C-I is used to mimic the effects of MDMA, also called Molly. It’s not as popular as another drug in its family, 2C-B, which gained popularity after MDMA was outlawed. However, 2C-I also has some similar desired effects.

The drug was created by chemist Alexander Shulgin in 1975, along with many other drugs in the 2C family. Shulgin first published a study about the drugs, measuring their potency. Later, he published a book about MDMA, the 2C family, and other psychedelics called PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story. Because of his work with these drugs, Shulgin came to be known as the “godfather of psychedelics.”

2C-I gained popularity around the time 2C-B was outlawed. It can also be mistaken for a similar drug called 2C-I-NBOMe, both because of similarities in its chemical name and because both are sold under the street name “smiles.” However, 2C-I-NBOMe is much more potent than 2C-I and can cause a deadly overdose with much smaller amounts than an effective dose of 2C-I. The existence of powerful, deadly analogs like 2C-I-NBOMe makes buying and using illicit drugs risky and inherently dangerous.

Physiological 2C-I Drug Effects

As a stimulant, 2C-I can cause physiological effects that involve excitement in the nervous system. This can include spasms, cramps, and muscle contractions that range from benign to uncomfortable. Other psychedelics like DMT and mushrooms, cause very few physical effects, besides nausea when the drug is ingested, which makes 2C-I unique.

The drug is also said to cause a high “body load” sensation, even compared to other drugs in the 2C family. Body load is a vague tactile sensation that’s described as an effect of many psychedelics and other psychoactive drugs. It’s characterized by an unpleasant physical sensation that’s described as pre-shock. The exact nature of this symptom is difficult to describe, but it’s unpleasant enough to make 2C-I a less popular choice in the 2C family.

Other physical effects of the 2C-I drug include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Teeth grinding
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart rate

Psychological 2C-I Drug Effects

As a psychoactive drug and a psychedelic, 2C-I can have intense psychological effects. 2C-I can cause symptoms and effects that are similar to other drugs with psychedelic effects like MDMA.

Other 2C-I effects can include:

  • Psychedelic hallucinations
  • Lifted mood
  • Euphoria
  • Increased sociability
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Increased libido
  • Increased empathy
  • Feelings of love
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion

Can You Overdose On 2C-I?

The dozens of designer drugs and drugs in the 2C family haven’t been thoroughly studied when it comes to their effectsA tablet of 2ci being hit by a red paper lightning bolt on humans. It can be difficult to determine how a designer drug like 2C-I is going to affect you. However, 2C-I does seem to pose a threat to the people that take it in high doses. According to some case studies into the occurrence of seizures after taking 2C-I, the drug does seem to be linked to dangerous seizure symptoms.

As a stimulant, 2C-I might also pose a cardiovascular risk to some people, especially people with heart disease. Stimulants often raise blood pressure and heart rate in people, with greater effects with higher doses. This can be dangerous, especially in people that are vulnerable to heart-related symptoms.

Why Seek Addiction Treatment?

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use issue that might be related to a designer drug like 2C-I, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Designer drugs can be unpredictable. There are dozens of drugs like 2C-I that are sold as MDMA analogs, some of which are sold as different substances.


Illicit drugs come with the inherent danger of contamination and potentially being mixed with other, more dangerous substances. Some drugs in the 2C family can be more dangerous than 2C-I and may be sold as 2C-I. Illicit drugs may also be mixed with powerful substances like fentanyl that can cause an overdose.

Every day in active addiction is potentially dangerous, especially when you’re using designer drugs and illicit substances. Addiction is also a progressive disease, which means that it can get worse over time if it’s not addressed effectively. However, addiction is treatable. Addiction treatment can help address substance use problems and underlying issues like mental health problems. To take your first steps toward recovery today, learn more about addiction and how it might be able to help you.


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