The most popular mind-altering hallucinogen is LSD. Many hallucinogens are Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act due to the risk of abuse and is not used medically for patients in the United States because it’s been deemed unsafe for use. Hallucinogen drugs are most often abused by young adults due to the drugs appeal visually. These drugs can be addictive and may cause lifelong cognition problems and mood changes. Treatment for hallucinogen abuse and addiction includes detoxification, inpatient care, support groups, cognitive and behavioral counseling, and more.
What are Hallucinogens
Hallucinogen drugs are a particular group of drugs that alter our awareness as well as our own thoughts and feelings. There are two types of hallucinogenics; one being classic hallucinogens like LSD, and dissociative drugs like PCP which can be much more dangerous. Dissociative drugs differ than classical as they can make you feel out of control or even disconnected from your own body and mind. Hallucinogen drugs have the ability to make you see things that are not really there, this is sometimes called “tripping”. What are the effects of hallucinogens? Hallucinogenic drugs effect the brain by messing with the serotonin neurotransmitter specifically in the prefrontal cortex area as well as other parts of the brain that deal with regulation arousal and stress responses. After taking hallucinogens you may start to see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem very real but are not. Symptoms of LSD use include:
Increased blood pressure
Dizziness and sleepiness
Loss of appetite, dry mouth
Numbness, weakness, and tremors
Impulsiveness and rapid emotional changes from fear to euphoria
Some hallucinogens and dissociative drugs are addictive and lead to abuse. Hallucinogen abuse can cause symptoms like amnesia, or trouble breathing and can lead to overdose. PCP and ketamine are some of the most addictive hallucinogens.
Types of Hallucinogens
There are five common hallucinogens and four common dissociative drugs according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Below are the different classification types of hallucinogens most commonly used worldwide.
LSD – a very powerful hallucinogen drug with mind altering abilities. LSD looks like a clear or white odorless material made from lysergic acid and is taken by mouth
Psilocybin – derived from particular mushrooms in tropical and subtropical parts of South America, Mexico, and the United States
Peyote – a small spineless cactus that contains mescaline
DMT – a very powerful chemical that is found naturally in Amazonian plants and there is also synthetic DMT
251 – NBOMe – a synthetic hallucinogen similar to LSD and MDMA but is more potent
PCP – was used previously as a general anesthetic but has come with serious side effects; it’s sold illegally in a white powder form or a liquid
Ketamine – used as general anesthetic for animals, its now sold illegally from vet offices and is usually snorted. Its also a date rape drug.
DXM – cough suppressant ingredient that is sold over the counter
Salvia – a common plant in southern Mexico is typically used by chewing the leaves or drinking leaf juices, also smoked, or vaporized
Effects of Hallucinogens on the Brain
Hallucinogens effect your serotonin receptors in the brain which regulate your mood, sensory perception, sleep, hunger, body temp, sexual behavior, and intestinal muscle control. Dissociative drugs effect our glutamate receptors which control pain perception, responses to environment, emotions, and learning memory. Effects of these drugs happen rather quickly; you may start feeling them within 20 – 90 minutes and the mental effects of hallucinogens may last up to 12 hours or even as short as 15 minutes. There are many hallucinogenic drug effects on the brain and body especially when abusing hallucinogens. Short Term Effects of hallucinogens:
Increased blood pressure
Loss of appetite
Feelings of relaxation
Increase heart rate
Intense feelings and sensory
Changes in sense of time
Long term hallucinogen effects are more uncommon but can happen. There are two common symptoms from long term use of hallucinogens. The first symptom is called persistent psychosis and side effects include visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia, and mood changes. The next symptom is called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder and this is where you experience flashbacks from your hallucinogen trip without warning. How are hallucinogens used medically? Medically, in some rare cases hallucinogens have been used to help treat anxiety and depression in the UK and has been highly researched and studied.
Hallucinogen Dependency and Abuse
According to the Health Research Funding, there is little known about the long-term effects of hallucinogens. These mind-altering drugs can be addictive and, in some cases, fatal. Use is highest amongst 17-to-30-year-olds. Dangerous negative effects of hallucinogen abuse include:
Hallucinogens overdose symptoms look like:
Dilated pupils to the point where seeing are difficult
Rapid eye movement or skittering eyes
Anxiety and nervous hysteria
Feelings of being indestructible
Euphoria or blissful glee
Increased heart rate that can be dangerous
Depression or sadness
Weight loss or weight problems
Changes in personality and having a hard time staying calm
Difficulty talking and forming cohesive thoughts
Statistically hallucinogens are used by junior and senior students in high school illegally and are attracted to the way hallucinogens look with there many different shapes sizes and colors.
How is Hallucinogen Addiction Treated
Due to the fact that hallucinogens have negative effects on our brains and bodies, it’s important to remember that abuse of these drugs can lead to overdose and death. Use of hallucinogens may be beneficial for some people but there is not enough research to determine this. If you or a loved one has experienced any of the above effects or symptoms of hallucinogen abuse, treatment is a great solution. Hallucinogenic treatment allows you to change your addictive behaviors into positive ones by changing and almost reprogramming your mood and brain. Detoxification is the first step to treatment, and during detox you will stay in an addiction facility or hospital where your withdrawal symptoms will be managed by medical professionals. From there you will enter inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, or residential programs to treat psychological effects of hallucinogens. Treatment may vary according to your individual needs. Support groups and intensive behavioral and cognitive counseling will also be apart of treatment. Here are some of the best hallucinogen rehab centers around the United States:
Hallucinogens Treatment in Lancaster, CA | Design for Change (designforchangerecovery.com)
The Orchid Recovery Center – Women’s Treatment Center
Hallucinogens Treatment and Rehab | The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health (floridarehab.com)
Hallucinogen Abuse Rehab & Addiction Treatment Center | Alexandria, LA | Longleaf Hospital
If you or a loved one is seeking information on addiction or mental health resources please call (888) 564-4780.