Hallucinogens are a group of drugs that alter a person’s awareness of their surroundings, thoughts, and feelings.
They are split into two categories: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. Both kinds produce side effects like hallucinations or sensations and images of things that seem real but are not. Additionally, each can cause an out-of-body-like experience that makes you feel as if you are disconnected from or do not have control of your body. Even though some people believe these drugs have benefits, our Milford rehab is aware of hallucinogens’ effects and how dangerous they really are.
Various types of dissociative drugs or hallucinogens can produce similar side effects. There are also some common hallucinogenic plants that these drugs are derived from, such as peyote (Lophophora williamsii), salvia (Salvia divinorum), ololiuqui (Turbina corymbosa), and ebena (Virola theiodora). Also known as magic mushrooms or shrooms, certain kinds of fungi and mushrooms can also produce hallucinogenic side effects.
Some common types of classic hallucinogens include:
- LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide) is one of the most powerful and commonly abused mind-altering chemicals. It’s a clear or white odorless chemical derived from lysergic acid, which is found in a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.
- Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is a naturally occurring compound that’s produced by more than 200 species of fungi found in places like South America, Mexico, and the United States.
- Peyote (mescaline) is a small, spineless cactus that contains psychoactive alkaloids, especially mescaline. Peyote can be synthetic or man-made.
- DMT (N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is a powerful naturally occurring chemical found in some Amazonian plants. Ayahuasca is a tea made from plants that produce DMT and is also known as hoasca, aya, and yagé. Like peyote, DMT can also be synthetic or man-made in a lab. Synthetic DMT usually comes in the form of a white crystalline powder that’s smoked.
- 251-NBOMe is a synthetic hallucinogen that produces similar side effects to drugs like LSD and MDMA. However, it’s much more potent than these substances. Also known as N-Bomb or 251, 251-NBOMe was originally developed for use in brain research but is also illegally sold and used for recreational purposes.
Common types of dissociative drugs include:
- PCP (Phencyclidine) was developed in the 1950s as a general anesthetic for surgery but was eventually removed from medical practice due to its side effects. PCP comes in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid, and white crystal powder.
- Ketamine (Ketalar) is a common surgery anesthetic in both the human and animal medical fields. Much of illegally sold ketamine comes from veterinary offices. It is available in powders, pills, and injectable liquids. Ketamine can be snorted or is sometimes added to drinks to facilitate sexual assault.
- Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a common ingredient in cough medicines because it alleviates cough and clears mucus and congestion. It can come in the form of syrups, tablets, and gel capsules.
- Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is a plant that is common in places like southern Mexico and Central and South America. Salvia is typically ingested by chewing leaves or by drinking their extracted juices. The dried leaves of salvia can also be smoked or inhaled.
What many people do not believe or fail to realize is that hallucinogens are addictive. Many are either illegal or controlled prescription drugs because of their potential for abuse and unpredictable side effects. There is little research on hallucinogens’ effects, meaning their duration and severity are difficult to track. However, if you have become dependent on these substances, the medical detox program we offer at Banyan Treatment Center Delaware can help flush them from your system and assist in physical recovery.
What Are the Effects of Hallucinogens?
Research suggests that hallucinogens affect the neural circuits in the brain that utilizes the neurotransmitter serotonin to produce perception or mind-altering side effects. Specifically, the side effects of hallucinogens most commonly occur in the prefrontal cortex and other regions that regulate arousal and physiological responses to stress, panic, and anxiety.
Short-Term Effects of Hallucinogens
Hallucinogen’s effects usually begin within 20 to 90 minutes after use and can last as long as 12 hours. Some short-term side effects include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Dizziness and sleeplessness
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Tremors and shaking
- Mood swings
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Introspective/spiritual experiences
- Uncoordinated movements (ataxia)
- Flushed or red skin
- Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, touching, or smelling things that don’t exist)
- Intensified sensory experiences (brighter colors and sharper sounds)
- Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
- Nausea and vomiting
- Impaired perception of time
Hallucinogens’ short-term effects vary depending on the type of drug used and the dosage taken. Dissociative drugs are also often used in conjunction with other substances like alcohol, which can also affect users’ experiences.
Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens
Hallucinogen’s effects can quickly lead to a high degree of tolerance to certain drugs, meaning repeated drug use requires increasingly larger doses to produce the same high or similar side effects. The use of dissociative drugs can also produce tolerance to other drugs in the same class. However, hallucinogens can only produce tolerance to drugs that act directly on the same receptors in the brain. Even so, these drugs are not safe nor healthy.
Hallucinogen’s long-term effects are most commonly hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) – also referred to as flashbacks – and persistent psychosis.
HPPD causes a person to relive the visual aspects of an experience caused by hallucinogens. These relived experiences are also referred to as flashbacks. Common symptoms include:
- Other visual disturbances (such as seeing halos, trails attached to moving objects, blurry patterns, size distortion, or bright circles)
- Symptoms similar to those of strokes or brain tumors
The hallucinations caused by HPPD are purely visual, but they can be annoying and even terrifying. Research on the duration of these symptoms is scarce.
Often called “split-brain,” persistent psychosis comes in many forms, the most common of them being schizophrenia. Symptoms of persistent psychosis include:
- Disorganized thinking
- Mood swings
- Visual disturbances
- Difficulties concentrating
- Depressed mood
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior
- Disorganized speech
Flashbacks, “bad trips,” and other long-term effects of dissociative drugs and hallucinogens can occur within a few days, months, or years. These symptoms are often mistaken for other disorders like a stroke or brain tumor. HPPD and persistent psychosis are seen more often in people who have a history of mental illness but are not limited to these individuals.
A dependence on hallucinogen’s effects often opens the door to harder drugs that can produce severe addictions and physical complications. If you or someone you know is battling drug or alcohol addiction, help is just a phone call away. Call our inpatient Delaware rehab center now at 888-280-4763 for more information.