Hallucinogens are diverse kinds of substances that alter perceptions. The use of these substances causes individuals to become disconnected from their environment. While most hallucinogens are not typically addictive, they can still lead to severe physical and psychological health issues that can last for years. Understanding and seeking treatment for a hallucinogen dependency is an essential first step toward recovery.

Why do so many people use hallucinogens?

In the United States, young adults are the primary age group that uses hallucinogens. A National Survey on Drug Use and Health report state that hallucinogens are largely used among Americans ages 18 to 25. Further, most reported using hallucinogens within the past year.

Many individuals use hallucinogens because they want to experience an intense high. Some of these highs could cause an out-of-body experience. While high on hallucinogens, individuals might behave in ways that they typically wouldn’t, which is enticing to some.

What are hallucinogens? 

Hallucinogens are a classification of psychoactive substances that induce auditory or visual hallucinations. Some individuals who use these drugs report hearing and seeing things that are not there. Being under the influence of a hallucinogen can lead to severe and distressing symptoms. During the negative experiences, individuals often endure intense anxiety and panic attacks. Since hallucinogens alter perceptions, some might act erratic or become violent.

Examples of hallucinogens include:

  • LSD is comprised of lysergic acid diethylamide and is among the most powerful hallucinogens.
  • Psilocybin is a kind of mushroom that can cause confusion and anxiety when ingested.
  • Peyote is a small cactus that contains a hallucinogenic product called mescaline.
  • DMT is a hallucinogenic compound that occurs naturally in plants and the human brain.
  • PCP, originally developed as an anesthetic, has become a popular hallucinogen in the United States.
  • Ketamine is a dissociative drug that distorts the perception of sights and sounds.

Symptoms of Hallucinogen Dependency 

Hallucinogens’ effects can begin within 20 to 90 minutes after use and last for up to 12 hours. Of course, this depends on the amount the individual uses and their overall health. These substances can cause significant physical and psychological problems that compromise an individual’s overall well-being. Their effects can also interfere with eating and sleeping.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that hallucinogens can cause a wide range of symptoms that could include:

  • Nausea
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Disrupting eating habits
  • Higher blood pressure and body temperature
  • Confused senses, like seeing colors or hearing shapes

When intoxicated with hallucinogens, a person can lose control of their motor skills as well. The lack of ability to control movements can lead to unintentional injury or death. Therefore, operating any motor vehicle or working while under the influence could have fatal consequences.

Long Term Effects

Individuals who regularly use hallucinogens increase their risk of health problems. The long-term physical and mental health ailments vary depending on the type of hallucinogen used. For example, extensive ketamine use can create memory problems.

Other long-term effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Speech problems

Another long-term effect is hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), a condition characterized by spontaneous hallucinations long after the effects of the drug wears off. Individuals suffering from HPPD report experiencing disorganized thinking, mood changes and paranoia, years after using the drug.

Are hallucinogens addictive? 

Some individuals who use hallucinogens frequently, such as LSD, can develop a tolerance. While certain hallucinogens might not be addictive, developing tolerance could lead to dependency and, soon, an addiction.

Alternatively, some hallucinogens such as MDMA are addictive. They are addictive because they alter the same parts of the brain as other addictive drugs. Further, excessive use of hallucinogens can be fatal. For example, high doses of PCP can cause overdose symptoms like seizures or coma, or death.

Hallucinogens Dependency Treatment

Hallucinogens divide into several different categories: classic hallucinogens, psychedelics, and dissociative drugs. Therefore, seeking proper diagnosis and treatment will need to consider which category affects the individual.

Hallucinogens are not typically associated with the same degree of physical dependence as alcohol or heroin, except for PCP, though the cognitive impairments they impart lead to a desire for continued use. The effects of hallucinogens are unpredictable, causing some users to partake in copious amounts, thus developing tolerance.

Long-term use can make it hard for those who use them to admit dependency. However, treatment facilities such as New Hope Ranch offer effective resources to help individuals identify and treat their hallucinogen dependency. Such treatments include:

While hallucinogens may not have the same addiction patterns as alcohol and other substances, they are still very dangerous and require treatment if used regularly. At New Hope Ranch, we treat hallucinogen dependency as seriously as other drug and substance use dependency. Our facilities incorporate conventional and holistic therapies to ensure that you and the community have the best access to care. Remember, recovery is always easier when you have help. Working with qualified professionals will aid you in developing the necessary tools to overcome your hallucinogen addiction. Our goal is to create a recovery plan to help you overcome your addiction and move forward with your life. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can get help when you need it. To find out more about substance addiction and treatment options, please contact New Hope Ranch today by calling (435) 586-2500