Some of the most dangerous substances abused are easy to access. One example is a drug that is classified as a hallucinogen. As people can find hallucinogens in natural plants, people are consistently using these substances. People have been using hallucinogens for centuries, and long-term use of hallucinogens can lead to dependency or addiction.
Before learning about hallucinogens and treatment for these types of drugs, it’s important to learn about all the symptoms and withdrawals that come from hallucinogen use. It is also important to learn about the different types of hallucinogens that people use, and how these dissociative drugs can lead to addiction.
At Sana Lake Recovery Center in Missouri, our treatment for hallucinogen addiction can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and achieve successful recovery.
What Is A Hallucinogen?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), hallucinogens are classified as a diverse group of drugs that alter perception, thoughts, and feelings by disrupting the communication between the body’s spinal cord and brain. They’re split into two categories: classic hallucinogens (LSD) and dissociative drugs (PCP). People use hallucinogens in a wide variety of ways, including smoking, snorting, and absorbing through the lining of the mouth.
Both varieties of hallucinogens can produce hallucinations, which are perceptions and visuals that appear real but are not. Dissociative substances can also make users feel out of control or cut off from their surroundings and bodies.
Certain hallucinogens can cause you to develop an altered state of reality by affecting the chemicals in your brain that control your different bodily functions, pain perception, sensory perception, memory, learning ability, emotion, and mood.
Hallucinogen use can even make a person feel disconnected from their body, mind, and surroundings. These dissociative drugs can make you feel out of control, and also cause intense emotions, suicidal thoughts, and visual disturbances.
Hallucinogen users tend to take them with the hope of gaining a new perception of the world around them. Some view consuming hallucinogens as a spiritual experience. Many people think that taking hallucinogens will increase their level of awareness of the spiritual realm.
Individuals think that taking dissociative drugs will increase their sense of self-awareness, while others just want to feel the effects of hallucinogens while partying or socializing. Young adults experimenting with drug use often leads to polysubstance abuse or the use of more than one drug at a time. This often results in dependency or addiction.
Types of Hallucinogens
Some hallucinogens are manufactured, while others are derived from plants or mushrooms (synthetic or human-made). In the past, humans have employed hallucinogens in rituals for healing or religion. The use of these medicines for social or recreational activities, such as to relieve stress, experience spirituality, or simply to feel different, has increased in recent years. There are numerous types of hallucinogenic drugs including the following:
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic drug found in the party drug, magic mushrooms, otherwise known as “shrooms.” The psilocybin drug within magic mushrooms is what makes people who take them feel overly giddy and happy. Taking shrooms also often makes people see colors and see and hear things that are not there.
Many people view the symptoms we just listed as being fun and positive. Still, there are some negative mental symptoms that magic mushrooms can cause. For example, shrooms can cause you to experience mood swings, light-headedness, anxiety and panic attacks, confusion and disorientation, and paranoia.
Physical side effects that could arise after taking shrooms include numbness in the face, muscle weakness, body twitches, shivering chills, and exaggerated reflexes. Other physical effects that could arise after taking shrooms include increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, high body temperature, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, and loss of urinary control.
Some people that take magic mushrooms may even experience negative and painful flashbacks. Many people refer to the experience of having negative responses to shrooms as having a “bad trip.”
How Long Does Psilocybin Stay in Your Body’s System?
The drug psilocybin usually stays in your system for up to fifteen hours after taking it. Although psilocybin takes around fifteen hours to leave your body’s system, you will feel its effects for around four to six hours.
You will likely start to feel the effects of the psilocybin around thirty minutes after ingestion. When mixed in hot water or tea, you can feel the effects of shrooms within five to ten minutes of ingestion.
Overall, the time it takes for magic mushrooms to affect you or stay in your system will depend on how much you took and the type of mushrooms that you took. These things will also depend on your body type, age, tolerance, the substances that you mixed the shrooms with, and/or your mental health.
Lysergic acid diethylamide, otherwise known as LCD, or acid, is a psychedelic hallucinogen. LSD causes you to experience changes in your perception, time, space, and emotions. Tolerance to LSD can occur fast.
LSD is included in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. This means that it has a high potential for misuse. Although it has a high potential for misuse, people consider LCD to be non-addictive. Regardless, people can develop an addiction to LSD because of the colorful and exuberant, trippy experience it provides.
The effects of LSD include hallucinations, delusions, sweating, alienation, and tremors. LSD effects also include seeing and hearing colors and sounds, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, flashbacks, dissociation, and impaired depth perception.
Peyote is a small, spineless cactus with the hallucinogen mescaline in it. You can extract mescaline from peyote or create it synthetically.
Peyote/mescaline creates an altered state of perceptions and feelings. Peyote/mescaline can also cause you to have vivid mental images, a distorted sense of body image, and an altered sense of space, time, and reality.
The physical effects that can arise after taking peyote/mescaline include nausea, increased body temperature, and heart rate, increased blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, numbness, weakness, and tremors. Fear, anxiety, flashbacks, and feelings of a loss of control of oneself can also come up when taking peyote/mescaline.
A dissociative anesthetic, the ability to use phencyclidine, was discontinued in 1965. This is because people that took it became irrational and agitated when they were coming down from the anesthesia.
Although the use of PCP was discontinued, it is now an additive to multiple street drugs. Examples of these street drugs include marijuana, LSD, and methamphetamine.
If you consume too much PCP, it can cause you to have hallucinations, seizures, and/or comas. Other names for PCP include angel dust, killer weed, zoom, supergrass, peace pills, and embalming fluid.
Bath salts are made out of numerous synthetic stimulants. The primary ingredient in bath salts is cathinone. Cathinone is human-made. Each batch of bath salts varies in its substances and chemical makeup. Thus, it is hard to identify what aspect of bath salts causes people to experience hallucinogenic effects.
Salvia divinorum is a psychoactive plant. Other names for salvia Divinorum include Sage of the Seers or Diviner’s Sage. People that take salvia Divinorum feel as if they are having hallucinations and visions. People that take salvia Divinorum also tend to feel like they can fly, float, and travel through time. The physical effects of Salvia Divinorum include dizziness, lack of coordination, chills, and nausea.
The game-hydroxybutyric (GHB) acid hallucinogen is unique in comparison to others because it is already found in human cells. Although found in human cells, GHB gets synthesized and used for its ability to sedate or intoxicate someone.
GHB is a central nervous system depressant. Common side effects of GHB include euphoria, decreased inhibitions and heart rate, sleepiness, disorientation, and loss of coordination.
Dimethyltryptamine is a chemical that you can find in some plants in the Amazon. The manufactured version of DMT is illegal. Although not manufactured legally, DMT is still in many different hallucinogens.
For example, DMT is a major component of the hallucinogenic tea ayahuasca. Although illegal in America, people in Brazil, parts of North and Central America, and the ancient Amazonian tribe use ayahuasca as a way to connect with their inner spirit.
Dextromethorphan is a hallucinogenic ingredient in some over-the-counter cough medications.
Ketamine is a hallucinogenic drug used in surgery anesthesia. Some people steal ketamine from veterinarian offices and illegally sell it on the streets.
To break the cycle of hallucinogen abuse, an addiction treatment facility for professional help is highly recommended.
How Does Hallucinogen Abuse Affect the Brain and Body?
According to research, traditional hallucinogens function, at least in part, by momentarily interfering with the chemical signals that travel throughout the brain and spinal cord. Some hallucinogens prevent the brain chemical serotonin from doing its job, which controls:
- Sensory perception of mood
- The temperature of the body
- Sexual behavior
- Intestinal muscles
Drugs that cause dissociative hallucinations prevent the brain neurotransmitter glutamate from doing its job, which controls:
- Pain perception
- Environmental responses
- Emotional learning
Users of classic hallucinogens may experience pictures, sounds, and sensations that appear real but are false. The effects often start between 20 to 90 minutes and can last up to 12 hours (LSD) or as little as 15 minutes in some situations (synthetic DMT). “Trips” are the experiences that hallucinogen users refer to as being caused by these drugs. Users can refer to an unpleasant experience as a “bad trip.”
The short-term effects of hallucinogens include the following:
- Elevated heart rate and sickness
- Dry skin and mouth
- Uncoordinated movements
- Excessive sweating
- Increased emotional and sensory acuity (such as seeing brighter colors)
- Shifting concepts of time (for example, the feeling that time is passing by slowly)
- Loss of appetite
- Paranoia: extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
- Psychosis: disordered thinking detached from reality
- Odd behaviors
Using traditional hallucinogens has been linked to two serious and life-altering long-term impacts. The long-term effects of hallucinogens include the following:
When a drug is consumed in excess, its toxic level results in paranoia and a psychotic episode. This is known as drug-induced psychosis. A negative reaction to combining different substances or quitting a medicine, whether prescribed or not, can also cause it. The term “persistent psychosis” refers to a variety of ongoing mental health issues, such as:
- Visual disturbances
- Incoherent thinking
- Mood swings
According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 60% of the time, psychotic symptoms went away after ceasing the use of illegal drugs within a month, 30% of the time, they lingered for one to six months after stopping, and 10% of the time, they lasted for more than six months. No matter the outcome, which does vary from person-to-person, drug-induced psychosis is a very real threat, and it can leave people completely debilitated if left untreated.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)
Recurrences of certain drug experiences, such as hallucinations or other visual problems, are known as persistent perception disorder (HPPD). These flashbacks frequently occur without prior notice and might happen as soon as a few days or as long as a year after drug usage. Sometimes these signs are confused with those of other illnesses, such as a brain tumor or a stroke.
Although these diseases are more common in those with a history of mental illness, they can affect anyone, even those who have only used hallucinogens once. Some antidepressant and antipsychotic medicines can be used to treat psychosis and lift the mood in HPDD patients. People who experience anxiety or disorientation due to visual abnormalities can benefit from behavioral therapy.
Effects Of Mixing Hallucinogens With Other Substances
Taking hallucinogens causes a variety of sensory experiences, which is why people tend to return to using the drug. It is very dangerous to mix hallucinogens with other drugs, such as alcohol. Symptoms that may arise after mixing hallucinogens with alcohol include nausea, vomiting, faintness, and headaches. The effects of hallucinogens can be short-term but often leads to dependency and addiction due to long-term use.
Mixing hallucinogens with alcohol can also cause panic attacks, increased heart rate, loss of consciousness, and seizures. If nothing else, alcohol may cause the length and severity of your “trip” to increase.
Hallucinogenic trips that are influenced by alcohol tend to be frightening. Drinking alcohol while taking hallucinogens can also cause you to become very out of it. So much so that you do not realize how much you are taking. This can lead to experiencing alcohol poisoning, or worse, overdose, or death.
For example, mixing LSD and alcohol can cause you to become more relaxed and unaware, which will then cause you to drink more. People especially tend to drink more alcohol when mixing it with LSD since LSD reduces the perceived effects of alcohol. Therefore, overdrinking while on LSD can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Mixing shrooms with alcohol can change the way your body processes both substances. This could lead to a variety of adverse physiological effects. Most classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs can cause a bad trip if not careful.
Mixing hallucinogens with other drugs can also cause you to risk your life. For example, mixing LSD and anti-depressants can cause you to experience hyperthermia, suicidal thoughts, or psychosis.
Prolonged hallucinogen use can cause a variety of mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. For example, dependency on PCP can lead to symptoms of cravings, headaches, and extreme sweating.
Although some hallucinogens can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms, the length of time in which a person experiences these symptoms is often very short. This is especially true if you flush the hallucinogens out of your body’s system through the detox process.
Can You Overdose On Hallucinogens?
When a person consumes enough of a substance to cause severe side effects, life-threatening symptoms, or death, that person has overdosed. At large doses, the majority of traditional hallucinogens can cause profoundly unpleasant experiences, albeit they seldom have lethal consequences. However, 251-NBOMe has documented multiple fatalities and major medical crises.
With some dissociative medicines, overdose is more likely. High amounts of PCP can result in coma, death, and convulsions. A coma may also result from combining PCP with other depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines. Alprazolam (Xanax), among other benzodiazepines, is prescribed to treat anxiety or aid in sleep.
However, due to the profound transformation, users of classic hallucinogens run the risk of suffering a catastrophic injury due to the profound change of perception and mood these drugs can cause.
Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment
How is a hallucinogen addiction treated? There are no FDA-approved medications to treat this type of drug abuse. Addiction is not as common with hallucinogen use as it is with other types of substances.
However, people can form a habit of taking these dangerous drugs and may find themselves unable to just “quit.” Professional treatment, like that offered at Sana Lake Recovery, can help people to address and overcome the underlying issues that have led to hallucinogen misuse.
Although hallucinogen addiction is not as common, it is important to note, though that when it does develop it can be severe. That is why you should not be ashamed to seek hallucinogens addiction treatment if you need it. For those that do need substance abuse treatment, an inpatient program is your best bet.
Break The Cycle With Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment
As the leading recovery center in the Midwest, Sana Lake Recovery’s treatment facility in Missouri is here for people struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders. With individualized inpatient and outpatient addiction programs for men and women of every age group, there is no shortage of what we can assist you with.
Breaking the cycle of addiction is difficult. Whether you are seeking help for hallucinogen abuse or co-occurring disorders, we have substance abuse treatment programs available to help you or a loved one recover. To learn more about the services that we provide, contact us today.