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The Rise of Psychoactive Drug Overdoses

The Rise of Psychoactive Drug Overdoses

Psychoactive drugs are chemicals that change one’s mental state and/or perceptions causing effects such as hallucinations and disassociation.

Common hallucinogenic, psychoactive, or dissociative drugs include LSD, PCP, Ketamine, Ecstasy, Peyote/Mescaline, and Psilocybin. There are many drug street names for these psychoactive drugs, and the drugs in question work on different systems in the brain and body to create their effects.

Psychoactive drug abuse is a growing problem among teens and young adults, but people of all ages abuse these chemicals. Psychoactive drug overdoses are especially dangerous, and these hallucinogens and dissociative drugs can affect the body and brain in dangerous ways.

How Do Psychoactive Drugs Affect the Brain and Body?

  Psychoactive drugs affect the brain’s perception of the world. They can do this by interacting with serotonin receptors, blocking sensory perception, and even slowing the user’s heart rate to the point of stopping. 1 Long-term use of drugs like MDMA can also inhibit the brain’s overall use of serotonin by damaging serotonin-containing neurons deep within the brain. 2

Certain depressants are psychoactive drugs that reduce the activity of the CNS, aka the body’s central nervous system. Many psychoactive drugs, especially dissociative drugs, affect the CNS. Overdose of these drugs can be deadly as the CNS’s functions are greatly slowed by the high levels of drug ingestion.

Growing Numbers of Psychoactive Drug Overdoses

  A recent large-scale study analyzed incidents of psychoactive drug abuse and overdose situations from 2000 – 2017. It was found that psychoactive drug overdoses have been growing in recent years, with poisoning from these drugs on the rise. Of the 67,369 psychoactive drug overdose cases from 2000 – 2017, anticholinergic plants caused 21% of overdoses, hallucinogenic mushrooms caused 15.6%, and marijuana caused 46.9%. 3

The study also showed that the number of psychoactive drug overdose cases is growing nationwide, and young adults are especially susceptible to the dangers of these drugs. Because these illegal drugs are largely unregulated, their contents can be a mystery, and their effects can quickly grow from dangerous to deadly. This growing trend in psychoactive drug use and poisoning is concerning, especially as these drugs become deadlier.

If you or someone you love is abusing hallucinogens, dissociative, or other psychoactive drugs, help is out there. Getting sober starts with getting help. Call our Banyan Detox Stuart team at 888-280-4763 to learn how we can help you get and stay sober.

We’re here to help you with your recovery, call 888-280-4763 today.



  1. Lumen – How Psychoactive Drugs Impact the Brain
  2. International Archives of Addiction Research and Medicine – The Relationship between Psychoactive Drugs, the Brain and Psychosis
  3. CNN – US drug overdose deaths reach another record high as deaths from fentanyl surge
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.