What Are Hallucinogens
Hallucinogens are psychoactive substances that may alter a person’s perception of reality. There are many different kinds of hallucinogenic drugs with different strengths and effects. They may be natural and plant-based like marijuana and magic mushrooms, or they may be a chemical like LSD. All have mind-altering capabilities.
Although some hallucinogens are considered to be a non-addictive drug, people can become addicted to the feelings and experiences that come with hallucinogenic drugs.
Addicts can develop a psychological dependence to psychedelics like LSD, DMT, magic mushrooms, and others. There have been documented cases of prolonged use causing side effects such as paranoia or psychosis.
Some popular hallucinogens include:
Ayahuasca is a tea made from a plant grown in South America. It was initially used in spiritual healing practices by tribes in the Amazon. While it is not illegal, the active ingredient in ayahuasca is DMT, an illicit substance. While some users have euphoric experiences, others may experience extreme anxiety. Ayahuasca can also cause vomiting, hallucinations, and diarrhea.
DMT is a chemical that is found in many plants and animals, including ayahuasca. It usually comes in white powdered form, and it can be snorted, smoked, or injected. It can cause intense hallucinations and euphoria and result in paranoia, vomiting, diarrhea, and other unpleasant side effects.
LSD is also known as acid. It is a popular psychedelic drug that may cause users to experience euphoria and alter their perception of reality. However, users may also experience a bad trip, resulting in intense fear and anxiety. Long-term LSD use has also been linked to schizophrenia.
Marijuana comes from the cannabis plant. It can be smoked or baked into food. Many people believe that it is not a dangerous drug, but users can still become dependent. It may cause euphoria, but it can also cause paranoia and severe anxiety.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms contain a compound called psilocybin, which is similar to serotonin. Psilocybin may cause hallucinations, nausea, and paranoia. The effect depends on the potency of the psilocybin in the magic mushrooms, the quantity consumed, and the mental state of the person using them.
PCP, also known as angel dust, is a chemical that may alter the user’s sense of sound, cause hallucinations, and lead to violent and erratic behavior. It is a white powder that can be smoked or injected.
Salvia is an herb initially used by Native American cultures in spiritual rituals. It may cause hallucinations, a distorted sense of reality, slurred speech, anxiety, nausea, altered heart rate, and loss of control over your body.
Brain Affects of Hallucinogens
Research suggests that classic hallucinogens work at least partially by temporarily disrupting communication between brain chemical systems throughout the brain and central nervous system. Hallucinogens can interfere with the action of the brain chemical serotonin, which regulates:
- Mood and sensory perception
- Essential functions like sleep, hunger, and body temperature
- Sexual behavior and intestinal muscle control
Detachment style hallucinogenic drugs interfere with the action of the brain chemical glutamate, which regulates:
- Pain perception and responses to the environment
- Emotion, along with learning and memory
Are Hallucinogens Addictive
Some people believe that naturally-derived hallucinogens like marijuana and salvia are safe because they are produced from a natural substance. Still, all drugs have a risk of addiction or other adverse side effects.
All hallucinogens are dangerous. For example, LSD has been linked to schizophrenia and can cause brain damage and psychosis due to long-term use. Long-term marijuana abuse has been linked to chronic bronchitis and a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
Signs of Hallucinogen Addiction
It is important to remember that the term hallucinogenic drug refers to a wide range of drugs that may affect the mind and body differently. Still, there are some signs that a person might be using or addicted to hallucinogens.
Hallucinogens affect behavior. Effects may include:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Strained relationships with loved ones
- Spending a lot of time using hallucinogens
- Not being able to stop using hallucinogens
- Continuous use even after a bad reaction
Side-Effects of Hallucinogen Addiction
Classic hallucinogens can cause addicts to see images, hear sounds, and experience sensations that seem real but don’t exist. The effects generally begin within 15 to 90 minutes and can last as long as 10 or 12 hours. The side effects of use can differ in severity according to the history of the addict.
Mental and psychological side-effects may include:
- Delusions and dissociation
- Unusually violent behavior
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Mood swings and irritability
While hallucinogens are best known for their effects on the mind, users may experience harmful physical side effects.
These can include:
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Numbness in limbs
No two hallucinogens are alike, and every person is different. It is vital to seek professional help immediately if you fear that you or a loved one is developing a habit of hallucinogen use.
Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment
There are currently no specific FDA-approved medications to treat addiction. While behavioral treatments can help patients, treatment plans can only be effectively implemented by a qualified health care professional.
Due to the difficulty of weaning off and stopping hallucinogen abuse, it is recommended that treatment is sought at a specialized inpatient rehab treatment center.
Recovery from hallucinogen addiction often includes hallucinogen detox, which will help the individual overcome physical dependence. During this time, clinical care prepares the individual for entry into an essential hallucinogen rehabilitation program that will pave the way for recovery.
Detox is the medical process in which hallucinogens are safely and successfully expelled from the body. The goal of hallucinogen detox is to successfully minimize side effects and mood changes experienced during withdrawal to proceed to the next stage of treatment.
Hallucinogen withdrawal symptoms during detox can be debilitating and potentially even dangerous. Symptoms of withdrawal may begin to show after just a few hours after stopping usage. Common symptoms include:
- Flashbacks and hostility
- Vomiting, anxiety, and muscle spasms
- Diarrhea and panic attacks
- High blood pressure
- Paranoia, depression, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts
Detox is designed to minimize these symptoms and keep patients safe from the physical and behavioral changes experienced when undergoing withdrawal. Professional detox increases the likelihood of an individual completing recovery, as unsupervised withdrawal often proves too challenging to bear and causes relapse.
Not all hallucinogenic drugs produce symptoms, but some drugs like PCP or ketamine do. Some people may become physically dependent on these drugs and experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop.
Common hallucinogen withdrawal symptoms include:
- Stiff muscles and depressed breathing
- Convulsions and rapid heart rate
- Cravings and headaches
- Sweating, seizures, and flashbacks
Withdrawal from hallucinogens can be difficult, especially if the patient was using the substances for a prolonged period.
Therapies Used for Hallucinogens
While some hallucinogens aren’t considered addictive, chronic use of these drugs can cause severe psychological problems that can last for weeks, months, or even years.
Inpatient or outpatient rehab for hallucinogen treatment provides different behavioral therapy types and specialized therapy to address the root causes of addictive behaviors. A hallucinogen treatment program is recommended as the therapy will unpack the issues and mental health problems contributing to substance abuse.
During hallucinogen treatment in rehab, clients also work closely with supportive health care professionals in the specifically designed environment to assist recovery.
Recovery from Hallucinogens
Although it may seem like a milder form of addiction, hallucinogen addiction is still very real and can be dangerous. Users may be totally unaware of the effects of their addiction, as well as their actions while under the influence of the drug. They may put themselves in harm’s way or put other people around them at risk.
Getting help for hallucinogen addiction is the first step to recovery. At Addiction Rehab Treatment, we are here to help you find the right treatment center for the nuances of addiction. Get in touch with our treatment navigators today, to help you get your life back on track.
We are here to help you create a personalized recovery plan so that you can live life to the fullest, free from addiction.