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Why Do Drugs Cause Hallucinations

Why Drugs Cause Hallucinations

Drug use always has its risks, and drug abuse can be physically damaging and lead to irreversible health conditions. Hallucinations are a common side effect of many drugs. They can even occur in people who take prescribed drugs according to their directions. So why do drugs cause hallucinations? While extensive research has been done to answer this question, at Banyan Stuart, we know the dangers of abusing any drugs, whether prescription or illicit, and how this can flip a person’s life around. As a Banyan rehab facility in Florida, we provide people caught in the cycle of addiction the help and guidance they need to take back control of their lives and find sobriety.


What Are Hallucinations?

Hallucinations are sensations or perceptions that are not real. These perceptions are created in a person’s mind and can convince them of a reality that does not exist. Hallucinations can make someone believe they are seeing, hearing, feeling, or smelling things that do not exist. Seeing people, hearing voices, feeling bugs crawling on your skin, and smelling odors are common forms of hallucinations.

Diverse types of hallucinations include:

  • Auditory hallucinations (hearing things)
  • Visual hallucinations (seeing things)
  • Olfactory hallucinations (smelling things)
  • Tactile or somatic hallucinations (feeling things)


Drugs That Cause Hallucinations

Numerous drugs can cause hallucinations. This is especially prevalent in cases of heavy drug use, which can effectively rewire a person’s brain and its functions depending on the substance in question.

Some drugs that cause hallucinations include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Fentanyl
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Codeine

There are many medications that can cause hallucinations, like opioids. Opioids, including Vicodin and Percocet, are commonly used to treat pain and other conditions and cause terrifying hallucinations in their users, especially when they’re misused. This list of drugs that cause hallucinations is just a snippet of the long line of drugs that can produce unsightly and uncomfortable effects like hallucinations.


Why Do People Hallucinate on Drugs?

The reasons people hallucinate on drugs will depend on the intended functions of those substances, as well as certain physical and neurological factors of the user. Regarding LSD hallucinations or lysergic acid diethylamide, it is believed that its relation to serotonin production can have something to do with it. Clare Stanford, a psychopharmacologist with University College London, has stated that “…serotonin helps keep a handle on perception and actually stops us from hallucinating”.1

The chemicals in LSD are responsible for targeting a serotonin receptor called 5-HT2A, which throws the visual and auditory functions of the user out of order. This causes users to perceive things not there, leading them to risk-facing consequences such as psychosis. 

The Dangers of Hallucinations

When a person is under the illusion of a hallucination, they are more likely to perform risky behaviors, which can lead to physical harm or even assault. Hallucinations are also often terrifying and instill fear and panic. Even misusing a drug once can cause health issues and disturbing side effects like hallucinations.

Not only do drugs cause hallucinations, but they can also lead to several other side effects that can put the user’s physical and mental health at risk. This is why we encourage individuals struggling to recover from addiction to take part in our cognitive behavioral therapy program. There, patients can have one-on-one sessions with expert therapists to understand how their behaviors and addiction are connected. This Florida addiction therapy option is an excellent option for those who struggle to grasp the weight of their actions and can help them reevaluate what led them to their current position.

Our Florida addiction treatment team understands why drugs cause hallucinations and the dangers of drug abuse. Any form of substance abuse or misuse can pose a risk to your health and your overall well-being. That is why we advise those suffering from drug or alcohol abuse to join our intensive inpatient program to recover and establish a long-term plan for a sober lifestyle. With the right amount of dedication and commitment to one’s recovery, people are capable of sensational things. Let us help you discover this for yourself.


If you or someone you know need drug or alcohol abuse rehabilitation, call the Stuart, Florida Banyan Treatment Center at 888-280-4763.



  1. The Guardian - Why Does LSD Make You Hallucinate?


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Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.