Understanding Hallucinogen Dependence
Hallucinogens are a class of drugs which induce auditory and visual hallucinations- as its name aptly implies. Addiction to psychoactive agents are fairly common, and if left untreated cause permanent brain damage and impaired motor function. As these substances shift the realities of those who use them, many recovering addicts are prone to bouts of manic psychosis, anxiety, and confusion. Many mind altering addictive substances cause wild emotional fluctuations and make it difficult to carry out everyday activities and responsibilities, directly impacting one’s ability to keep a stable job or family commitments.
More than one million people engage in use of mind altering substances. When the adverse symptoms of mind altering drug use creep up on users, many develop manic disorders, spiral into depression, suffer anxiety attacks, and tend to have suicidal thoughts. These instances are commonly referred to as “bad trips” and they can last as long as 12 hours.
One of the lesser known effects of this drug classification is their propensity to induce sudden flashbacks- flooring users (even when they’re not actively engaged in drug use) to vividly recall previous drug trips. Sometimes these flashbacks occur when operating motor vehicles or tending to family affairs. By shifting the way our brains process sensory information (touch, taste, sound, vision, and sight), hallucination inducing substances rob users of their ability to experience reality for what it is, plunging them into a confusing waking nightmare.
Those high on either organic or synthetic delirium drugs cannot discern the symptoms of drug use from reality, and mistake their hallucinations for truth. Sometimes this can cause violent outbursts, endangering users and those around them.
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Types of Hallucinogen Addiction
Now that we’ve given you the broad spectrum of use and potential dangers, there are many types of drugs which fall into this particularly diverse drug class- each causing different symptoms of use and subsequent addictions. Among the most popular psychoactive drugs of choice include LSD, PCP, Ketamine, and Mushrooms.
Strange street names include:
- California Sunshine
- Loony Toons
- Purple Heart
All types of psychoactive drug addictions are severely dangerous, as drug use from any illusion inducer may cause a medley of symptoms, unlike one trip or experience from the next. Their unstable chemical composition prove difficult to predict the nature of trips, and vary drastically from user to user.
LSD: Perhaps one of the most commonly abused drugs, LSD can be taken orally via capsules, or huffed on pieces of paper by distributing its liquid form. One drug “trip,” or experience, may last for 12 hours on average. The duration of the drug’s effects impedes one’s ability to function entirely.
LSD develops a tolerance in those who use the substance repeatedly. In essence, once tolerance is established users must continually take higher doses of LSD to reach the same high. As one’s tolerance threshold continues to increase, the dosage of LSD continues to grow exponentially, causing adverse health effects and cementing addiction.
Effects of LSD Use Include:
- Visual and Auditory Hallucinations
- Acute Anxiety
- Sensations of Seeing Sounds & Hearing Colors
PCP: Also known as phencyclidine, PCP is often taken with other addictive substances- but by itself, PCP affects one’s ability to perceive pain. Consuming the substance tampers with glutamate receptors, which are directly responsible for recognizing pain, managing cognition, and helping to regulate emotions. Additionally, PCP adversely affects the production of dopamine, which makes the substance considerably addictive.
Did You Know?
Even after stopping PCP use, the adverse effects of the drug may persist for up to one full year.
Effects of PCP Use Include:
- Acute Anxiety
- Eventual Development of Schizophrenia
- Impaired Judgement
- Exaggerated Fear & Waking Terrors
Ketamine: Known as the date-rape drug, ketamine use impairs one’s ability to move, and is often coupled with feelings of numbness. Ketamine inhibits the body from recognizing pain by blocking off nerve pathways. Memory loss after use has been reported after taking ketamine. The drug’s immediate effects decrease user’s heart rate and blood pressure.
Because ketamine is considered an esoteric, or lesser known, addictive substance, there is a lack of public knowledge about the adverse effects of the substance. Like many of the substances classified as hallucinogens, the substance is addictive and induces users into a state of disassociation. Disconnecting users from their emotions, sense of self, and cognition. The substance is more potent than cocaine and speed, when measured in equal grams.
Effects of Ketamine Use Include:
- Potentially Fatal Respiratory Complications
- Out of Body Experiences
Peyote: A commonly abused species of cactus, peyote forces disassociation with those actively using the substance. Continued abuse of peyote may manifest a disorder very similar to schizophrenia. Peyote disrupts the healthy balance of serotonin, causing a chemical imbalance which directly affects one’s ability to manage their emotions. Those suffering from a serotonin deficiency are often aggressive, or become easily depressed. Peyote causes hallucinations and psychosis.
Effects of Peyote Use Includes:
- Blurred Vision
- Loss of Equilibrium
- Manic Mood Swings
- Increased Heart Rate
- Personality Changes
Psilocybin: More commonly known as “shrooms” or “magic mushrooms,” psilocybin is often abused during raves. The substance develops tolerance once used regularly. Use of the drug causes hallucination, distortions from reality, and may result in psychosis.
Signs of Hallucinogen Abuse
Although each drug in this classification vary in their symptoms and adverse side effects, many symptoms align similarly throughout the spectrum of the drug class. The following symptoms can help you identify use of a mind altering substance, but may not give insight to the specific drug in question:
- Mood Swings
- Expressing Odd Sensory Experiences
- Dilated Pupils
- Chronic Anxiety
Treatment for Hallucinogens
Treatment falls in line with most drug addiction treatment. Recovering users are encouraged to check into drug detoxification as quickly as possible to prevent chronic addiction early on. The faster addiction is treated, the less chances there are for users to inflict permanent physical and psychological damage from drug use.
Hallucinogen dependence treatment is conducted in the same way as other addiction treatment- the variance comes in the medications prescribed to help manage withdrawal and stave off cravings. Recovering addicts can expect to complete detox, and can experience a pain free recovery by opting in for medically assisted drug treatment.
After the detoxification period, recovering patients enroll into residential or inpatient rehabilitation treatment to get to the bottom of addiction once and for all. Working closely with specialized addiction counselors, past users will work to redress addictive behaviors and establish healthy means of combating underlying feelings and emotions fomenting addiction. Following inpatient treatment, recovering addicts will continue to receive medical and psychiatric treatment in outpatient programs to eradicate the physical and mental dependence to addictive substances once and for all.