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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 Florida drug rehab, 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. Hallucinations can be upsetting and disturbing, but it's crucial to remember that they're symptoms, not actual problems. They frequently point to underlying medical, neurological, or mental issues that need to be evaluated by a specialist and treated as necessary.

Additionally, there is a vast range in how hallucinations affect a person's daily life. Some people may have brief, isolated episodes, but others may endure incapacitating hallucinations that have a profound impact on their quality of life. To assist people in navigating and managing these experiences and to address any underlying issues contributing to their occurrence, prompt identification and intervention are essential. t is imperative to seek the advice of a trained healthcare practitioner to comprehend and treat hallucinations fully and compassionately.

What Are the 5 Types of Hallucinations?

Hallucinations are sensory experiences that happen without any external trigger. They can manifest in a wide variety of ways and affect a variety of senses. It is crucial to know the types of hallucinations in order to make an accurate diagnosis and administer efficient treatment for underlying problems. 

5 types of hallucinations include:

  • Auditory hallucinations: Hearing sounds, voices, or noises that are not there in the surrounding environment is a symptom of auditory hallucinations. The most prevalent type, auditory hallucinations, are frequently linked to illnesses like schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, or certain neurological abnormalities. The voices that are heard can be friendly, authoritative, or even consoling.
  • Visual hallucinations: Visual hallucinations involve the perception of imaginary objects. Visual hallucinations can cause people to perceive persons, objects, or patterns that other people do not. These hallucinations, which can be vivid and in-depth, are linked to diseases including Parkinson's disease, dementia, and problems brought on by substances. Visual hallucinations can sometimes happen when no underlying medical issue is present, frequently when one is extremely exhausted or sleep-deprived.
  • Olfactory hallucinations: This sort of hallucination involves smelling things that aren't truly there. Despite the absence of any equivalent cause, those who have olfactory hallucinations may detect odors that might range from pleasant to unpleasant. Olfactory hallucinations may occur in conjunction with psychiatric illnesses, migraines, or epilepsy.
  • Gustatory hallucinations: The sense of tastes that are not actually present is known as gustatory hallucinations. This can include taste sensations like bitterness, sweetness, or other flavors that appear on their own. Gustatory hallucinations are generally uncommon and frequently linked to illnesses like epilepsy, brain damage, or particular psychiatric diseases.
  • Tactile hallucinations: The sense of being touched, even if there is no physical contact, is known as a tactile hallucination. Feelings of pressure, tingling, or crawling might result from this. Tactile hallucinations frequently occur in patients who are going through drug or alcohol withdrawal, have delirium tremens, or have specific neurological abnormalities.

Healthcare personnel must be aware of these various hallucinations in order to determine the underlying reasons, treat those who experience these sensory distortions, and care for those who experience them.

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 make you hallucinate include:

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

There are many drugs that 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. Additionally, hallucinogens, as the name would suggest, are intended to induce these experiences, amongst numerous other physical and mental effects.

Why Do People Hallucinate on Drugs?

The reasons for drug-induced hallucinations 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 as 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 only 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 needs 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?
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.
Why Do Drugs Cause Hallucinations
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