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 Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment

Hallucinogens’ are popular because they induce altered states in the user. According to a survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2.6% of Americans used hallucinogens during 2020. Like other illicit drugs, hallucinogens have negative consequences. 

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What Are Hallucinogens?

A hallucinogen is a psychoactive drug that makes the user hallucinate. Hallucinogens can alter a user’s perceptions, emotions and consciousness. The effects of hallucinogenic drugs are referred to as trips.

Types of Hallucinogens

Some hallucinogenic drugs cause altered states while others alter the senses. Certain hallucinogens cause delirium. Hallucinogens fall into three categories:

  • Psychedelics – Drugs that alter a user’s consciousness. Examples include LSD, psilocybin, DMT and mescaline. LSD became a popular recreational drug during the 1960s counterculture and the hippie movement that surrounded the acid rock scene. 
  • Dissociatives – Drugs that distort a user’s sense of sight and sound, such as ketamine and PCP. Dissociative drugs can alter a user’s sense of reality and cause dissociation from surroundings. In some cases, dissociative drugs cause euphoric effects and work as depressants.
  • Deliriants – Drugs that cause delirium, also known as anticholinergic drugs. Deliriant drugs are the least-studied class of hallucinogens. Found in plants with scopolamine, such as the genera Brugmansia and Datura. Deliriants were used in native South American cultures during tribal rituals to create a sense of delirium.

Hallucinogens interfere with a person’s judgment and senses. A person with pre-existing mental illness could suffer serious adverse effects from a bad trip. 

A classic example is musician Syd Barrett, the original frontman from English rockers Pink Floyd. Despite his role as the group’s creative mastermind, he was forced to quit due to the effects of psychedelic drugs, which ravaged his mental state.

Common Psychedelic Hallucinogens

The most common hallucinogens, psychedelics, were popular among youth for their trippy effects, which enhanced the experience of acid rock music. 

  • LSD – Also known as acid or dots, LSD is the most widespread psychedelic drug. It is distributed on white material coated with lysergic acid, which comes from the fungi in rye and assorted grains.
  • Peyote – Derived from the mescaline cactus; distributed in synthetic and natural form.
  • DMT – Derived from Amazonian plants. Used in ayahuasca tea. Made synthetically in labs. Distributed as a white smoking crystal for recreational purposes. 
  • 251-NBOMe – A potent synthetic hallucinogen, originally developed for brain research. Sold by street dealers as N-Bomb or 251.
  • Psilocybin – Derived from a mushroom native to South America. Also known as mushrooms and by the street names shrooms and magic mushrooms. 

Bad trips can cause people to see and hear things that aren’t present. This can be dangerous in situations where the user could get injured or hurt someone nearby. For example, a user might hallucinate a garden trail beyond their balcony ledge when there’s actually a five-floor drop.

Common Dissociative Hallucinogens

Dissociative hallucinogens give people altered states of reality. Select drugs in this category were initially developed as anesthetics. People abuse these drugs for sensory experiences.

  • Ketamine – First used as a surgical anesthetic on humans and animals. It’s now snorted as a recreational drug and sold by street dealers as Special K.
  • PCP – Another surgical anesthetic, developed in the 1950s. Typically sold in liquid and crystal powder forms. Sold by dealers under the street name Angel Dust. No longer used in medicine.
  • Salvia – Derived from a plant native to the Spanish Americas. The leaves can be ingested or extracted into juice. Dry leaves can be smoked.
  • Dextromethorphan – A cough suppressant found in drug store syrups, also called DMX. 

Dissociative hallucinogens interfere with the brain chemical glutamate, which regulates emotions, cognitive functions and pain perception responses. Drugs like PCP can seriously impact the central nervous system.

Why Do People Take Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens were first explored during the mid-20th century for their potential benefits in treating depression and pain. Since the 1960s counterculture, people have used hallucinogen drugs for recreational purposes like:

  • Enhanced creativity – Some users believed that drugs like LSD enhance creativity. This was common among artists and musicians in the psychedelic rock scene. It has long been observed that the trippy qualities in select recordings from that era (“In a Gadda Da Vidda”) were the direct result of psychedelic drug use.
  • Mind expansion – People looked to drugs like LSD to expand the mind and find enlightenment. Some users take hallucinogens to see unicorns and fairies.
  • Altered states – Some users wish to escape from the real world and use hallucinogens to imagine themselves in fairytale land. This appeals to users with bad situations in their everyday lives.
  • Ritual healing – In ancient times, select hallucinogens (particularly deliriants) were thought to have healing qualities. This is still believed and practiced in certain religious cults.

Some users develop psychosis from hallucinogens. This happens when the effects of the drug persist long after the substance has cleared the body. In some cases, this leads to schizophrenia.

Effects of Hallucinogens on Sensory Perception, Brain and Spinal Cord

People use hallucinogens for the psychedelic effects, unaware of the unsavory side effects, which include:

  • Dizziness and sleeplessness – Some users lose their balance and ability to sleep peacefully while under the influence.
  • Paranoia – Bad trips can make people fearful of non-existent danger, such as monsters, goblins, demons and bogeymen. Some users visualize these things when intoxicated.
  • Mood disturbances – Hallucinogens can negatively impact the emotional states of sensitive and edgy individuals.
  • Visual disturbances – Users might visualize ghastly horrors when tripped out on LSD or shrooms. If a person runs his fingers down his face, the user sitting across from him might think that he peeled his skin off.
  • Disorganized thinking – Hallucinogens have a kaleidoscopic effect on the mental process. People often picture visual and sound collages when they try to concentrate while under the influence.
  • Mood swings – A user’s mood can shift from paranoia to euphoria and back while under the influence.

Classic hallucinogens alter communication pathways between the brain and spinal cord. By impacting the brain chemical serotonin, hallucinogens alter body temperature, libido and muscle control. Other effects of hallucinogens include numbness, tremors, appetite loss, increased heart rate and high blood pressure.

Substance Abuse Treatment for Hallucinogen Addiction

Users grow dependent on hallucinogens when the body grows tolerant of the hallucinogenic drug. To repeat the desired effects of hallucinogens, the tolerant user takes heavier hits. This can also lead to more dangerous addictions to drugs that work on the same mental pathways.

For hallucinogen addiction, treatment usually consists of the following:

  • Detox – Starts the moment the user quits taking hallucinogens and enters rehab. Detox takes between three and seven days as chemicals clear the body. To avoid relapse, detox should always be done at a drug treatment center.
  • Inpatient treatment – Consists of 30-90 days at a drug addiction treatment center. During treatment, patients partake in group meetings and undergo private counseling. Days consist of wellness activities, healthy meals, drug education and private recovery time.
  • Outpatient treatment – The same as inpatient treatment, only the patient lives at home and comes to the rehab center in the day for meetings, counseling and activities. A good option for recovering drug users with ongoing work and social obligations.

LSD produces tolerance that often leaves users in denial. Some users won’t seek addiction treatment on their own. Usually, proactive friends and loved ones must step in to intervene in the situation and get the person the treatment he/she needs.

Find Treatment for Hallucinogen Drug Abuse

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Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

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People first take hallucinogens for the trippy effects but the results are often far less benign. Hallucinogen users often spiral into more addictive drug abuse. This can impact a user’s mental health, relations, finances and physical body with irreversible damage.

If someone you know has a problem with hallucinogen addiction, get help immediately. Contact a rehab center in your area and ask about their programs. Most American rehab centers treat addiction to hallucinogens and the co-occurring mental disorders that affect many users. Act now before the problem gets any worse.

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