Hallucinogen Addiction

Hallucinogens are plant-derived or synthetic drugs that alter sensory perception and sense of self and others. Some hallucinogens were first developed as anesthetic agents, but most hallucinogens are illegal today.

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What are Hallucinogens?

hallucinogensNatural hallucinogens can be derived from fungus. They have chemical properties that alter your perception of the world. Hallucinogenic drugs distort what people see, hear, smell, taste and feel. The most common brain chemicals affected are serotonin and acetylcholine, which is responsible for behavior, perception and the body's regulatory systems (mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, muscle control). Hallucinogens are rapidly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, through the mucous membranes or can be injected directly into the veins. Some can even be inhaled.

Types of Hallucinogens:

LSD is a synthetic hallucinogenic agent that was developed as an analeptic, or a drug that stimulates the heart and respiratory system. The development of a synthetic hallucinogen meant  the use of hallucinogenic drugs was no longer determined by climate, geography or seasonal changes.

The manufacture of LSD, PCP and ecstasy is illegal the United States. These drugs and mushrooms are controlled as Class I scheduled narcotics by the DEA. However, ketamine and dextromethorphan are legally prescribed hallucinogenic drugs, as is marijuana in several jurisdictions.

The effects of hallucinogens upon a person are both variable and unreliable. For example, a person can use PCP or LSD several times and enjoy the experience, yet the next time he or she may have a bad trip. Visions or flashbacks from the one bad trip can haunt the person years later.

Signs of Hallucinogen Use and Abuse

Today, young adults aged 18-25 are most likely to use hallucinogenic drugs. Hallucinogenic drugs are neurotoxic in humans and can leave users with permanently impaired judgment. Rash decisions, risky sexual behavior, accidents and suicide can often be related to hallucinogenic abuse. Dehydration, cardiac effects and seizures from these substances can lead to death or permanent disability.

Hallucinogens can create what is known as a psychedelic effect, which includes abstract, rapidly moving, intensely colored visual effects. It is combined with intermittent anxiety and euphoria.

Like other drugs, a tolerance for hallucinogens can develop quickly, requiring greater amounts to achieve the same effect.

Common Signs of Hallucinogen Use

  • Changes in the senses
  • Fluctuations in body temperature
  • Alterations in time perception
  • Pupil dilation
  • Feeling detached from one’s body
  • Lingering visual images after the trip has ended
  • Inability to discern reality from fantasy
  • Diminished ability to learn new concepts
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Alterations in mood
  • Memory loss

Hallucinogen Withdrawal Symptoms

As the hallucinogen drug leaves your system you will begin to feel uncomfortable physical and psychological changes.

Hallucinogens Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Flashbacks
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of coordination
  • Aggressive, hostile or violent behavior
  • Zombie-like state
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fear of going insane
  • Depression
  • Frank psychosis
  • Hyperthermia
  • Diarrhea
  • Permanent post-hallucinogenic perceptual disturbance
  • Long-term psychosis
  • Flashbacks

The medical treatment for hallucinogen intoxication and/or withdrawal involves stabilizing physiological processes and treating psychosis. The patient may need to be sedated for hostile or aggressive behavior.

Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment

While there is no specific protocol for hallucinogens, there are medications that can calm the body and mind during withdrawal and then, if necessary, handle any psychological shifts caused by the absence of the drug. Other addiction treatment therapies will be necessary for the addict to learn to live without using drugs for mind-altering, recreational reasons. Most hallucinogen addicts use other drugs as well and may need to be treated for addiction to other substances.



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