WHAT ARE HALLUCINOGENS?
Hallucinogens are a type of “psychedelic” drug that affects the way people see, feel, taste, hear, or smell. They also affect the mood and thoughts of individuals who use it. Hallucinogens typically refer to drugs such as PCP, cannabis, LCD, mescaline, ketamine, psilocybin, salvia, and many others. When hallucinogen drugs are taken in high doses, they can cause some unwanted effects, such as seeing or hearing things that are not really there or known as “hallucinations.” The common ways that hallucinogens are taken are eaten, brewed in a tea or drink, ingested from fresh plants, or used in syrups, tablets, or gel capsules.
Research shows that people have a long history of using these dissociative drugs. Hallucinogens were drugs that were used during certain medicinal, spiritual, or religious ceremonies during the 1960s and 1970s. Hallucinogen drug use was considered a symbol of the counterculture among young adults in North America and Europe. In the 1990s, hallucinogen use was linked to the “rave” scene.
Due to their strong effects, hallucinogens can cause abuse or addiction and be difficult to quit using. With the right treatment, support, and care at a treatment facility such as AToN Center, you can recover from a hallucinogen addiction and live a life free from addiction. For more information on our resources and addiction treatment services, please contact us.
Where Do Hallucinogens Come From?
Hallucinogens can come from different plants or man-made substances. Some hallucinogens come from cacti (mescaline), mushrooms (psilocybin), or other plants (salvia, cannabis). Of these, psilocybin and cannabis are almost always used in their most natural form. Although LSD is used only in a man-made form, a related drug, LSA, is found in nature. Other hallucinogens, such as ketamine and MDMA, are created in laboratories.
Types of Hallucinogens
Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that alter perception, thoughts, and feelings. They cause hallucinations or sensations and images that seem real, though they are not. There are several types of hallucinogens, including:
These cause hallucinations and alter sensory perception, including time and space. Examples include LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), psilocybin (found in ‘magic mushrooms’), peyote (mescaline), and DMT (dimethyltryptamine).
These cause feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Examples include PCP (phencyclidine), ketamine, and dextromethorphan (found in some cough syrups).
These induce a state of delirium, characterized by extreme confusion and an inability to control one’s actions. Examples include certain plants like deadly nightshade (belladonna) and Jimson weed (datura).
Although not typically classified as hallucinogens, high doses of cannabinoids like THC (found in marijuana) can have hallucinogenic effects.
A plant native to Mexico that can cause intense and short-lived hallucinogenic experiences.
It’s important to note that all these substances can have profound and unpredictable psychological effects, and their use should be approached with extreme caution. Many of these substances are illegal in many jurisdictions, and their use can result in legal penalties as well as health risks.
Most Common Hallucinogens That Are Abused
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D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a man-made substance that is derived from ergot, which is a fungus that grows on certain plants. LSD is one of the most powerful hallucinogens out there, causing intense hallucinations in individuals to occur.
LSD can come in multiple forms, such as a white powder or clear liquid that has no smell or color. It most commonly comes in the form of a square block of blotter paper or gelatin that individuals place on their tongues. The long-term effects of LSD include the danger of abusing it in any amount, including microdosing, which may have the potential for experiencing “flashbacks” days, months, or even years after stopping the use of the drug.
PCP, or phencyclidine, is a specific hallucinogen drug known as a dissociative anesthetic. It was originally developed in the 1950s as a surgical anesthetic, but its use has since been discontinued due to serious side effects. PCP can cause hallucinations, distorted perceptions of sounds, and violent behavior.
It’s often sold on the street in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, and colored powders. It can be snorted, smoked, or eaten. Due to its high potential for hallucinogen abuse and addiction, PCP is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Taking PCP, especially in large doses, can be life-threatening and lead to serious mental health problems.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that is found in certain species of mushrooms, often referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’. When ingested, psilocybin is converted into psilocin in the body, which has mind-altering effects similar, in some aspects, to those of LSD, mescaline, and DMT.
Effects can include altered thinking processes, closed- and open-eye visuals, synesthesia, an altered sense of time, and spiritual experiences. It’s worth noting that these effects, while often positive for users, can also be intensely negative and akin to panic or anxiety attacks.
While psilocybin is considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act in the United States, meaning it’s illegal and considered to have a high potential for abuse, recent research has shown potential benefits in treating various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, more research is needed, and self-medication with any substance, particularly psychedelics, can lead to harmful outcomes.
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and sensory perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.
MDMA was initially popular among people in the nightclub scene or at “rave” parties, but the drug now affects a broader range of people who more commonly call the drug Ecstasy or Molly.
One of the significant health risks associated with MDMA is that it can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, potentially leading to a spike in body temperature (hyperthermia) that can result in liver problems, kidney problems, heart failure, or even death.
In addition, because it enhances the release and activity of serotonin from certain neurons, chronic use of MDMA can lead to depleted levels of serotonin and can cause severe depression or other cognitive deficits.
While some research suggests that MDMA might be useful in psychotherapy, particularly for treating PTSD, these uses have yet to be approved by the FDA.
Where Do Hallucinogens Come From?
Hallucinogens can come from different plants or man made substances. Some hallucinogens come from cacti (mescaline), mushrooms (psilocybin), or other plants (salvia, cannabis). Of these, psilocybin and cannabis are almost always used in their most natural form. Although LSD is used only in a man made form, a related drug, LSA, is found in nature. Other hallucinogens, such as ketamine and MDMA are created in laboratories.
How Do Hallucinogens Make You Feel?
How hallucinogenic drugs will make you feel depends on several factors, including:
- How much of the drug you use
- How often and how long you use hallucinogens
- Your mood, expectations, and environment
- Age of the drug users
- Whether you have certain pre-existing medical or health disorders or mental illness
- Whether you’ve taken any alcohol or other drugs (illegal, prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal).
Many have reported that the most common side effects of hallucinogens include mind-altering, psychoactive mental health effects that can be mild to severe. Most hallucinogens cause changes in mood and produce certain intense feelings, emotions, or sensations in the body. For example, LSD can cause an array of effects, such as changes in perception or auditory hallucinations, while PCP can make you feel euphoric and invincible if PCP is taken at higher doses.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogen Abuse?
Hallucinogens can cause a wide range of physical and psychological effects that may vary depending on the specific drug, the dose, the user’s health status, and the context in which the drug is used.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of hallucinogen abuse:
- Dilated pupils
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Sleep problems
- Uncoordinated movements
- Sweating or chills
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Distorted perceptions of time and space
- Feelings of detachment from oneself or the environment
- Intense sensory experiences (e.g., colors are brighter)
- Panic or paranoia
- Poor judgment and risky behaviors
- Mood swings
- Psychosis in severe cases
- Difficulty concentrating
- Problems with work or school
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Isolation from family and friends
- Legal problems related to drug use
- Using the drug despite adverse reactions
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If you or someone you know is exhibiting these signs and symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help. Misuse of hallucinogens can lead to serious health risks, including mental health problems and even life-threatening physical conditions.
Health Effects of Hallucinogens
Using LSD may also cause several physical health effects, including sweating, blurred vision, mydriasis, palpitations, and impaired coordination. Many other hallucinogens cause vomiting or nausea. With all hallucinogens, judgment is impaired.
Side Effects of Dissociatives (PCP, ketamine, DXM)
Side Effects of Psychedelics (peyote, ecstasy, LSD, psilocybin)
Are Hallucinogens Addictive?
The addictive potential of hallucinogens varies depending on the specific drug.
For example, LSD is not generally considered physically addictive, as it does not cause compulsive drug-seeking behavior. However, users can develop tolerance to LSD, meaning they need to take larger doses to achieve the same effects, which can lead to dangerous situations.
On the other hand, PCP (a dissociative hallucinogen) has been shown to have addictive potential. Users may develop a craving for the drug and continue to use it despite negative consequences.
While physical addiction to hallucinogens is less common compared to other classes of drugs like opioids or stimulants, there can be a psychological dependency. Users may continue to use these substances to escape reality or cope with negative feelings.
It’s also important to note that even though some hallucinogens might not lead to physical dependence, their use can still be harmful. They can cause severe psychological distress, including anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis. In addition, using hallucinogens in high doses or in unsafe environments can lead to dangerous situations and harm to oneself or others.
Addiction to Hallucinogenic Drugs
Like most other drugs and alcohol, using hallucinogens can result in addiction and abuse. The stages of addiction usually begin when someone develops a dependence on the drug and needs it in order to function at a “normal” level. When you detox or clear the drug from your body, it typically will result in withdrawal symptoms and effects that occur.
Signs of addiction or substance abuse to hallucinogens and other dissociative drugs include:
Addiction to these drugs can often coincide with mental health disorders, which is why finding hallucinogen addiction treatment services and support is so important. If you are looking for additional resources and information, please contact AToN Center for information on our addiction treatment. If you know someone struggling with hallucinogen addiction, a referral goes a long way, and we would be happy to assist the person in their recovery.
Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment at AToN Center
AToN Center is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center that provides a multitude of services to address substance abuse in a supportive, comforting environment. At our facility, we treat both the mental health and physical health aspects of abuse of alcohol and drugs, understanding that there can be certain health disorders associated with substance use disorder.
Treatment for hallucinogen addiction generally involves a combination of psychological therapy and supportive services, as there are currently no FDA-approved medications to treat addiction to these substances. Here’s an overview of the treatment options:
This form of therapy helps individuals understand and change thought patterns that lead to harmful behaviors, including drug use. It can also help them develop coping skills to deal with cravings or situations where they might be tempted to use hallucinogens.
This is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes.
Many people benefit from group therapy or support groups. These settings allow individuals to share experiences, learn from others, and gain support from peers who are facing similar challenges.
These strategies might include ongoing therapy, support groups (like Narcotics Anonymous), and sober living arrangements. They are designed to provide long-term support and help individuals maintain their recovery after they complete a hallucinogen addiction treatment program.
Remember, each person is unique, and the best treatment approach will depend on the individual’s specific needs, including their health status, the specific substances they are using, and their readiness to change. It’s crucial to seek help from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist to determine the best treatment approach.
Expert Addiction Treatment in a Luxury Setting
At AToN Center, we know what drugs and alcohol can do to a person’s health and well-being, and our care services team supports each individual person that walks through our door looking for recovery. We also believe that your past does not have to dictate your future, that you have a lot of opportunities to get past your troubles, and that we can be there for you the entire time.
Our programs and services differ from other treatment programs nationwide, and we provide top-notch services for all we do. We care about our client’s success in our program, and we want to help you get better from a drug or alcohol problem. We have an on-site first-class chef, yoga, meditation, counseling, and other holistic care options. You or your loved one will receive all the necessary components to achieve recovery.
If you or someone you love needs help with a drug or alcohol problem and would like information on our support, resources, or care services, please contact our admissions team.