Content reviewed by Nicholas G. Glines

In the 1960s, hallucinogenic drugs were popularized as a part of the counter-culture revolution. These drugs alter an individual’s perception of reality, causing them to see and hear things that aren’t actually there. While hallucinogens are now recognized for their value in medication-assisted therapy, these drugs can produce dangerous side effects for recreational users.

It is important to recognize the short-term and long-term effects of hallucinogenic drugs to understand the impact that even one-time use can have on your life. It is also necessary to acknowledge that hallucinogen addiction is possible and that help is available.

What Are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens are a diverse group of psychoactive drugs that alter an individual’s sense of awareness and surroundings. Hallucinogens are either extracted from plants or mushrooms or synthetically made in a lab. People use hallucinogens for many reasons, such as social or recreational purposes, having spiritual experiences or experiencing an altered state of consciousness.

There are two main categories of hallucinogens, including:

  • Classic hallucinogens:
    • LSD (acid)
    • MDMA (also known as molly)
    • Psilocybin (also referred to as shrooms or magic mushrooms)
    • Mescaline (known as peyote)
    • Cannabis (marijuana or THC)
    • Ayahuasca
    • DMT
  • Dissociative hallucinogens: 
    • Ketamine (also known as special “K”)
    • PCP
    • DXM

Both categories of hallucinogenic drugs can cause hallucinations, which are sensations or visuals that seem real but are not. The main difference between classic and dissociative hallucinogens is that the latter can cause individuals to have an out-of-body experience after consumption, causing them to feel out of control or disconnected from their body or environment.

Hallucinogenic Effects on the Brain and Body

Hallucinogens affect the brain and body by disrupting regular communication between neurons responsible for certain functions. Hallucinogens target specific brain areas and alter their understanding of sensory input. Physical and mental tasks that are affected by hallucinogens include:

  • Mood and emotion
  • Sensory perception
  • Sleep
  • Hunger
  • Body temperature
  • Sexual behavior

Short-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

The short-term effects of hallucinogens typically begin within 20 to 90 minutes following consumption. Certain hallucinogens, such as DMT, may produce effects that last as little as 15 minutes, whereas other hallucinogens, such as LSD, can produce effects that last up to 12 hours.

Other than hallucinations, short-term effects of hallucinogenic drugs include:

  • Physical effects:
    • Increased heart rate
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Dry mouth
    • Loss of appetite
    • Inability to sleep
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Increased body temperature
    • Excessive sweating
    • Dilated pupils
  • Mental or emotional effects:
    • Intensified sensory experience, such as brighter colors
    • The blurring of senses, such as hearing colors or visualizing sounds
    • Altered perception of time, such as feeling time passing by slower than usual
    • Spiritual experiences, such as unification or ego death
    • Panic
    • Paranoia
    • Psychosis
    • Bizarre behavior

Some short-term effects specific to dissociative hallucinogenic drugs may include numbness and loss of motor coordination. Dissociative drugs can also cause memory loss, seizures, amnesia and psychotic symptoms in high doses.

Hallucinogenic drugs produce unpredictable experiences. Those who use hallucinogens risk having what is referred to as a “bad trip,” which may be characterized by extreme panic, paranoia and nightmarish hallucinations. It is essential to understand that there is no way to guarantee a pleasurable hallucinogenic experience, which makes the recreational use of these substances concerning.

Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

Recognizing the long-term effects of hallucinogenic drugs is critical to prevention. These effects do not pertain to regular use but instead, have to do with the potentially long-lasting effects of using hallucinogens even once. Two conditions that may present themselves as a result of hallucinogen use include:

  • Persistent psychosis: characterized by disorganized thinking, paranoia and mood and visual disturbances
  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD): characterized by chronic hallucinations and other visual disturbances

Other long-term effects of hallucinogens may include intrusive flashbacks and psychosis, which can occur in some people even after using a hallucinogenic substance only once.

It is also vital to understand and identify the long-term effects of dissociative hallucinogens. Although more research is needed to understand all impacts, several long-term effects may continue well after hallucinogenic drug use stops. These may include:

  • Speech issues
  • Memory loss
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation

Treatment for Hallucinogen Use and Addiction

If you or your loved one struggles with the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, help is available. Hallucinogens can wreak havoc on your sense of self and reality. You are not alone. Whether you are suffering from hallucinogen addiction or looking to recover from the consequences that hallucinogens have caused in your life, there are many unique treatment programs available. Take back control of your life, mental and physical health and future with treatment.

New Hope Ranch is an addiction treatment center for men specializing in treating hallucinogenic drug effects. Our staff knows what you are going through, and we are dedicated to providing compassionate, individualized care, with our main priority being your recovery. To learn more about our programs or for more about our treatment facility, give us a call today at (737) 600-8565.