What Is A Hallucinogen?

Hallucinogens are drugs that alter an individual’s perception, feelings, and thoughts. This affects the acetylcholine and serotonin, brain chemicals responsible for perception, behavior, and the regulatory systems of the body including hunger, mood, body temperature, muscle control, and sexual behavior. This drug usually causes hallucinations or images and sensations that appear real though they aren’t.

These days hallucinogens are available in the form of drugs, but it can also be found in fungus, mushroom or in some other plants (or their extract). Common Hallucinogens that can be accessed or available nowadays includes but is not limited to the following:

  • LSD or D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide –Also known as a blotter, acid, doses, microdots, trips, sugar cubes, hits, tabs, tubes or window panes, LCD is a white or clear odorless material that is made from a lysergic acid.
  • Psilocybin – this comes from particular types of mushroom that grows in Subtropical and tropical regions of US, Mexico, and South America. This can either be fresh or dried and eaten raw, brewed into tea or mixed with food.
  • Mescaline – this is also known as peyote, a spineless small cactus that has mescaline as a principal ingredient.
  • DMT – is found in particular types of Amazonian plants but can also be manmade.
  • Ayahuasca – also known as Aya, Hoasca, or Yage, Ayahuasca is a tea made from one of the numerous Amazonian plants that contain DMT.
  • DXM or Dextromethorphan – also known as Robo, DXM is a mucus clearing and cough suppressant ingredient in some OTC’s cough and cold medicines.
  • Ketamine – also known as Special K, K or Cat Valium, Ketamine is a dissociative drug currently used as an anesthetic for animals and humans. Even though this is manufactured as injectable fluid, this drug can also come in a powder form, which is snorted.
  • PCP or Phencyclidine – this was originally developed for medical purposes, specifically used as a general anesthetic but due to grave side effects, its usage has been stopped. This drug comes in numerous different forms including liquid, capsules, tablets, and white crystal power.
  • Salvia or Salvia Divinorum – This is a plant common to South and Central America and Southern Mexico. This is also known as Maria Pastora, Diviner’s Sage, Magic Mint, and Sally D.

Hallucinogens are divided into three groups – Dissociative, Psychedelics, and Deliriants.
Dissociative is used in order to warp sounds and sights and generate feelings of detachment and dissociation from the environment or the body. This typically produces synaesthesia, euphoric high, hallucinations, and dreamlike visions. The best-known drugs under this type include DXM, PCP, and Ketamine.

Psychedelics, on the other hand, are drugs that alter the state of consciousness and perception of an individual. LSD is the most popular drug under this type of hallucinogens. Last is the Deliriants, which induces a sense of delirium. The most popular deliriants drugs are Benadryl and Dramamine.

Hallucinogens Symptoms and Side Effects

The symptoms and effects of hallucinogens are erratic. It usually depends on the amount of drug taken, the user’s mood, personality, expectation and even their surroundings. Soon after an individual taken in the drug, she or he might show symptoms including a higher body temperature, dilated Pupils, Increased blood rate and blood pressure, Loss or increase of appetite, weight loss, dry mouth, speech difficulty, sleeplessness, paranoia, and tremors.

Feelings and sensations change, too. Typically, the user may feel varying emotions at once or experience drastic mood swings. The user’s sense of self and time may also alter. All these changes can cause an individual to feel fear and eventually cause panic. Hallucinations transform or distort movements and shapes and users may perceive others and even themselves as changing shapes or moving slowly.

Hallucinogen Effects

The consequence of hallucinogens abuse can be extremely detrimental. Although these drugs are not supposed to be addictive physically, an individual can still form a psychological dependency. Hallucinogen addiction brings short-term and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Side Effects

Individuals who have been taking hallucinogenic drugs can usually hear sounds, see images, and feel sensations that are not real. The effects of the drug usually start within 20 – 90 minutes after ingestion. It can last as long as six to 12 hours. However, when it comes to taking in Salvia, a user can experience the effect in less than a minute and last less than half an hour.

The experiences or effects of these drugs are usually called by Hallucinogen users as ‘trips’. If the experience is not so good, they term it as ‘bad trips’. The bad trips usually include nightmarish feelings of despair and anxiety that includes fear of insanity, losing control and death as well as terrifying thoughts.

Below are the short-term effects of taking hallucinogenic drugs, particularly LSD and Psilocybin:

  • Increased body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Sleeplessness and Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth, sweating, loss of appetite
  • Weakness, tremors, and numbness
  • Rapid emotional shifts and impulsiveness
  • Feeling relaxed
  • Spiritual/Introspective experiences
  • Nervousness, panic reactions, paranoia

Long-Term Effects

Researchers know that users of ketamine may develop kidney problems, ulcers in the bladder, and poor memory while repeated PCP use can result in effects that may continue for years such as memory loss, anxiety, weight loss, speech problem, depression, and suicide. But still, little is known about the hallucinogen’s long-term effect.

Other types of hallucinogens can also cause persistent psychosis and flashbacks but these effects are rarely experienced. Persistent Psychosis refers to a series of constant mental problems such as paranoia, visual disturbances, mood changes, and disorganized thinking. Flashbacks, on the other hand, refer to recurrences of particular drug experiences and often occur without warning. In some drug users, this effect can persist and can affect their everyday functioning, a condition called as HPPD (Hallucinogen-persisting-perceptual-disorder).

Other risks or effects of Hallucinogens

Other risks of many hallucinogens need extensive research and remain unclear. Known health effects include the following:

  • High PCP doses can cause coma, seizures, and worse death. Death, however, more often results from suicide or accidental injury during the PCP intoxication. When consumed with depressants such as benzodiazepines and alcohol, an individual may also be in a coma.
  • Without enough knowledge, users of psilocybin risk poisoning and even death from choosing and using a poisonous mushroom.
  • Hallucinogens users usually display bizarre behavior. Displaying such behaviors in public areas may prompt law enforcement or public health personnel intervention.
  • While the effects of hallucinogens on the developing fetus remain unknown, specialists and researchers know that the mescaline used in peyote may affect a fetus of the mother who is using the drug.


Causes of Hallucinogenic Drug or Hallucinogens Abuse

Hallucinogen drugs are not physically addictive. So you might ask why some people (or you) have been addicted to this drug? A hallucinogen user is usually not addicted to the drug itself but to the ‘spiritual journeys or trips’ that are taken or to the hallucinations.

Another reason of hallucinogen addiction is that the user develops a tolerance to the drug. Moreover, the tolerance can quickly build up, the drug’s toxicity level is extremely low, and there are no withdrawal symptoms because of constant abuse. When the hallucinogens are injected or smoked, the user can feel its effect just within one to five minutes. When taken orally or snorted, the user will likely feel the effects in about half an hour.

Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment

To be able to succeed in quitting a hallucinogenic addiction, which is extremely difficult to achieve, an individual needs to muster courage and determination. If you or your loved one has been addicted to hallucinogenic drugs and are now ready to make a change, the primary step is to determine the problem and then embrace healing or bear in mind that treatment is available. Next, to make sure that you or your loved one will successfully get out from the trap of hallucinogens, it is necessary to seek help from a licensed therapist, hallucinogen treatment facility, and above all is to seek the assistance of the family and friends.

To overcome the addiction to hallucinogenic drugs, a treatment plan needs to be created. Usually, it consists of four components – the family or loved ones, a counselor, a support group and a hallucinogen treatment program. Each of these components has an important role to play to ensure that the hallucinogen user will finally recover from addiction.

  • Seek for help – start with loved ones and friends. When healing and recovery become challenging and difficult, these individuals can provide motivation to continue.
  • Find a hallucinogen therapist – this professional specializes in addiction to hallucinogenic drugs addiction and is the one who can make a personalized detox plan.
  • Search for a hallucinogen rehab program – a treatment program for hallucinogen addiction will offer support or assistance in dealing with any psychological or physical withdrawal symptoms and helps in dealing with additional co-occurring addictions or disorders of any sort.
  • Engage in ongoing therapy and support groups – support groups can provide supervision when experiencing relapse scenario and plays an important role in an ongoing abstinence.

Detoxification (Detox)

A huge majority of detox treatments for hallucinogen abuse are initiated in emergency departments or hospitals when the abuser experience bad trips or suffers an injury, overdose, or any other medical complication as the result of the abuse.

Detox treatment primarily includes close observations as well as intervention for detrimental side effects of the drug and the withdrawal symptoms that usually evolve as hallucinogens are eliminated from the user’s system. The first stage is stabilization, which may require medication like anti-anxiety, anti-psychotics, and anti-depressants drugs to ensure the safety of the user as well as the safety of individuals surrounding him or her.

Hallucinogens Treatment Levels

This can be used to overcome hallucinogen addiction depending in intensity and type. The rehabilitation level that needs to be pursued can be determined by any co-occurring disorders as well as by the addiction’s severity. When the addiction co-occurs with other substance abuse, serious mood disorders, or eating disorders, the commonly utilized levels includes the following:

Support Groups – They provide mindfulness and responsibility as all of the members of support groups have been through the same or comparable circumstances.

Outpatient Care This program places fewer restrictions on an individual but still implements both personal and group therapies.

IOP (Intensive Outpatient Programs) This offers individual and group assistance and services and does not depend on detoxification. Sessions are typically done in the afternoon or morning. Individuals are permitted to carry on some daily behavior.

Types of Therapy

Therapy that can be used to help an individual overcome a hallucinogen addiction comes in numerous different types. Usually, a combination of therapies focusing on behavior modification will be implemented. Such therapies focus on the psychological issues of the addiction. The treatment may include the following:

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy – This uses mindfulness and acceptance strategies combined in numerous different ways with behavior change or commitment strategies. The mental and emotional flexibility should be improved.

Interpersonal Therapy – This concentrates on social roles and interpersonal relations using supportive, short-term psychotherapy. This type of therapy tries to help patients find good or better ways to deal with or handle existing problems or issues.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy – This therapy focuses on maladaptive thinking pattern to affect the behavior of the patient in a positive manner and assist them in developing positive coping skills.

Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy

This utilizes the standard behavioral therapies for emotion regulation. The key for this is the introduction of mindful awareness, and stress management.

Supportive Programs – Family Therapy, support groups, group therapy and other support structures are part of this group.

Hallucinogen addiction should not continue for life. Stop the addiction and the consequences it brings through seeking for help. The road to addiction recovery and complete healing is fraught with failure and success, making it hard to remain committed to the goal of becoming free from addiction. Nevertheless, no matter how hard the process may be, always remember that it is never impossible. You only need a great deal of perseverance, sacrifice, and dedication. Call us at our Huntington Beach substance abuse treatment center today at 714-443-8218.