What Are Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens are, as the name says, drugs that cause users to experience hallucinations.
Hallucinogen users have described seeing bright and vibrant colors, but drug-related hallucinations aren’t limited to sight. Users might also hear, smell, feel, or otherwise perceive things that aren’t there. Experts aren’t sure how exactly hallucinogens work, but many believe that they work by disrupting the brain chemicals and pathways that control mood and sensory perception.
Classic and Dissociative Hallucinogens
Hallucinogenic drugs fall into two main categories: classic and dissociative. Some sources also mention deliriants, but these drugs have very limited popularity as recreational drugs. The classic variety, also known as psychedelic drugs, come in the following forms:
- Psilocybin (mushrooms)
These drugs primarily cause sensory hallucinations. People tend to think of these drugs when thinking about hallucinogens.
In 2013, 229,000 Americans used LSD
Dissociative drugs include the following:
- Salvia Divinorum
These drugs may also cause sensory hallucinations. However, they also cause a sense of detachment from reality. Users may feel detached from their own bodies, as if watching themselves from a distance. They may also feel like their existence or the world around them is not real.
Are you worried about a loved one’s hallucinogen use? Call 800-492-QUIT today.
Are Hallucinogens Addictive?
Some hallucinogens are more addictive than others, but even the more mildly addictive ones come with the risk of tolerance. During physical tolerance, a person’s body gets used to the amount of drugs that he or she consumes. The person will then have to use more and more drugs to get the same effect that the first high brought. The increasing amount of drugs will lead to increasing dangers, including the possibility of death.
Short-term dangers from hallucinogens include the items listed below:
- Increased blood pressure
- Loss of muscle control
- Loss of impulse control
- Accidental injury
- Accidental poisoning (from misidentifying mushrooms)
Furthermore, hallucinogen users risk experiencing a bad “trip,” or an unpleasant high. While many trips provide short-term pleasant sensations, other trips bring scary hallucinations that can cause panic. Because a trip can last up to 12 hours, a bad experience can completely terrorize the hallucinogen user.
Experts aren’t sure yet whether or not hallucinogens cause lasting brain damage, but some research has linked hallucinogen use to degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Some people experience Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), which causes hallucinations that persist long after the end of a trip.
Furthermore, each hallucinogen comes with its own set of dangers. Ketamine, for example, can cause long-term physical damage to some internal organs. PCP can cause long-term mental health issues such as depression.
How to Get Help
Those who struggle with hallucinogen use can seek treatment. First, an individual might undergo medical detox to safely rid the body of drugs. A person who has abused hallucinogenic drugs for a long time may experience some withdrawal symptoms, and medical detox can treat these symptoms while keeping the patient safe and comfortable.
Second, a hallucinogen user may participate in a rehab program. Inpatient programs last for one to three months and require participants to live in the facility while they receive treatment. Outpatient rehabs provide treatment during the day, and participants live in their own homes while getting treatment. Outside of rehab, individual therapy as well as support groups can be very helpful for people in recovery from a drug addiction.