Hallucinogenic drugs are often considered to be the least addictive illicit drugs. However, they have a high potential for abuse and thus can be fatally dangerous psychoactive substances. They form a diverse group of drugs that are not chemically similar in most cases. However, they produce similar alterations in feelings, experiences, and perceptions.
Despite having a rich history of spiritual and medical use, hallucinogens are commonly abused. These drugs have led many down the dangerous path of dependence and addiction.
What are Hallucinogenic Drugs?
Hallucinogens are psychoactive substances that alter an individual’s perception of reality. They are also known as “psychedelics.” This is because hallucinogenic drugs cause people to experience things that aren’t real. These substances have the ability to alter their perception of the world around them.
As a group, Hallucinogens include a wide variety of plants and chemical compounds. These compounds alter normal brain function by interfering with communication among brain and spinal cord chemical systems. Hallucinogens also prevent serotonin from being released naturally. Serotonin is the chemical responsible for regulating sleep, sex drive, mood, body temperature, sensory perception, and muscle control.
Due to this effect, many people who use hallucinogens report increased pleasure from touching, euphoria, and sexual desire. Repetition of use, on the other hand, can teach the brain to rely on the release of serotonin from a hallucinogen. This is instead of the brain’s average production of the chemical.
Types of Hallucinogens
Most hallucinogenic drugs are classified within the Controlled Substances Act as Schedule I drugs. This means they are not currently accepted for medical use due to their high potential for abuse. Even though hallucinogen addiction and overdose cases are generally low, most people may still depend on their effects.
Here are some of the most common hallucinogens:
- Phencyclidine (PCP): This drug was initially developed as an anesthetic for surgery and later discovered as a dissociative anesthetic. It is usually found in capsules, powders, and tablets. It can be taken through injection, swallowing, or sniffing, but it can also be smoked. It produces an “out-of-body” experience, leading to serious adverse effects.
- Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD): This powerful drug is colorless and odorless and has a high potential for psychedelic effects. LSD produces mood-elevating “trips” and can be consumed orally in liquid, powder, or pill form.
- Ketamine: This is a surgical dissociative anesthetic that can produce some hallucinogenic effects. As a sedative, ketamine has also been used as a date rape drug because it causes immobility, pain relief, and amnesia. The hallucinations it causes last 30 to 60 minutes, and the onset of effects is usually within a few minutes. A “bad trip” can leave someone high on ketamine in a state known as a “K-hole.”
- Psilocybin. This chemical compound is found in psychedelic mushrooms from Mexico, Central America, and the United States. The so-called “Magic Mushrooms” are distinguished by their long, slender stems and dark-gilled caps. Psilocybin can cause hallucinations, an inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, panic attacks, and even psychosis if taken in large doses.
Other forms of hallucinogens include:
- Bath Salts
- Salvia Divinorum
- Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
- Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)
The Side Effects of Hallucinogen Use and Abuse
Hallucinogenic drugs interfere with normal brain function by quickly flooding the brain with serotonin. Addiction to a hallucinogenic drug can develop as a result of excess serotonin in the body. Abuse of hallucinogens can also cause a decrease in the body’s ability to produce serotonin.
Some of the short-term effects of hallucinogens may include:
- Anxiety or paranoia
- Feelings of distorted time
- Intense feelings and sensory feedback
- Dry mouth
- Fluctuations in heart rate
Prolonged abuse of some hallucinogens may lead to various long–term effects, which include:
- Memory loss due to repeated abuse of PCP
- Visual disturbances
- Bladder ulcers and kidney complications due to Ketamine abuse
- Mental problems
When to Get Help for Hallucinogen Abuse
People who use hallucinogenic drugs for some time may become psychologically addicted to their effects and suffer various consequences. When someone becomes addicted to hallucinogenic drugs, they should seek help from a certified and competent detox center.
The following therapies can be applied in conjunction with detoxification to treat hallucinogenic dependency:
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Lifestyle skills therapy
When a person addicted to hallucinogenic drug use stops or reduces their substance use, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Thus, it works well if they start a treatment plan with an expert. Especially someone who can guide them through the whole treatment process till they fully overcome it.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms they may experience include:
3. Drug cravings
Therapy is one of the most effective strategies for defeating dependence on hallucinogens. Counselors specializing in addiction and mental health offer solutions on how one can reduce and stop substance abuse. The use of hallucinogens may be related to stress. In this case, one may benefit from counseling to learn how to deal with stress and avoid situations that trigger negative emotions.
Find Treatment for Hallucinogen Addiction
Dealing with Hallucinogen addiction may not be a walk in the park. It becomes traumatic to see your loved one rendered useless by this addiction. Adolescents and young adults, whose brains are still developing, are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of hallucinogens. However, there is still hope because Inland Detox has you covered.
Inland Detox in Riverside County offers detox and residential treatment for struggles with addiction to drugs or alcohol. We create a patient-focused recovery program to give our clients the best opportunity for long-term sobriety. If you have a loved one who needs detox and rehab services, contact us today for a free consultation.