Hallucinogenic drugs are substances that produce mind-altering effects when used. Sometimes called a “trip,” the effects of hallucinogens can make one see, hear, and even feel things that are not there. Many hallucinogenic drugs come from naturally occurring items in nature, such as plants and mushrooms, which often leads people to underestimate the powerful and potentially dangerous effects of these drugs.
Hallucinogenic drugs (sometimes called psychedelic drugs) are a class of drugs that, when used, alter your awareness of your surroundings, as well as your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. There are two classes or types of hallucinogens, classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs.
Both types of hallucinogenic drugs will cause hallucinogenic effects. Dissociative drugs will also cause you to feel disconnected or out of control of your environment and body. 1
Hallucinogenic drugs come from two different sources. Natural hallucinogens are drugs that are extracted from plants and other “natural” sources like mushrooms. The second source is human-made or lab-created hallucinogens called synthetic hallucinogens.
Regardless of the type of hallucinogenic drug, natural or synthetic, people use them in various ways, including swallowing, brewing into a tea, injecting, snorting, inhaling (smoking), or absorbing through the skin. 1
The Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration categorizes most hallucinogenic drugs as Schedule I substances meaning they have no currently accepted medical use, have a high potential for addiction, and are unsafe for use even under medical supervision. 2
Schedule I drugs are not legal.
There are two types of psychedelic drugs (or hallucinogen drugs), classic and dissociative hallucinogens. Examples of hallucinogens from both categories and types contain substances familiar to many.
Examples of common classic hallucinogens include LSD, MDMA, Mescaline (Peyote), Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Psilocybin, and DMT. DMT is a chemical found in certain plants native to Amazonian regions. The chemical DMT is the primary psychoactive chemical in Ayahuasca.
Drugs or chemicals such as PCP, Ketamine, Salvia, and DXM are classified as dissociative hallucinogens. DXM or Dextromethorphan is the active ingredient found in many over-the-counter cough suppressants and cold medications. Misuse of these medications due to the hallucinogenic effects of DXM has led to widespread control over the sale and purchasing of these medications.
Hallucinogens' short-term effects include both expected and unexpected effects of use. The first short-term effect of hallucinogen drugs is hallucinations. These begin with 20-90 minutes of usage and can persist for varying durations in most cases. With drugs such as LSD, hallucinogenic effects may last as long as 12 hours; however, for as little as 15 minutes with synthetic DMT and others.
In addition to hallucinations, typical effects of hallucinogenic drug use include nausea, elevated sense of perception, increased heart rate, loss of appetite, problems sleeping, dry mouth, panic, sweating, problems with coordination, “spiritual” experiences, psychosis, mood alterations in mood, disorganized thinking, visual disturbances, amnesia, memory problems, difficulties breathing, seizures, and problems with movement. paranoia and erratic behaviors. 3
The long-term effects of dissociative drug use may include speech problems, weight changes, memory problems, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. With some hallucinogenic substances, long-term use can lead to hallucinogens addiction. The long-term effects of hallucinogens also contain two specific concerns, persistent psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder or HPPD.
Persistent psychosis is a collection of ongoing mental health challenges linked to hallucinogenic drug use, including paranoia, mood alterations, disorganized thinking, and visual disturbances. Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is a condition that includes hallucinations and other visual disturbances such as flashbacks.
These may occur without warning within a few days or up to a year or more after use. It is not uncommon for symptoms of HPPD to be confused with other medical conditions such as a brain tumor or stroke.
Not all drugs that cause hallucinations are considered "addictive" based on the typical symptoms of drug addiction, such as cravings and drug-seeking behaviors. 4
However, some research evidence suggests that it is possible to develop a tolerance and addiction to hallucinogens. With some drugs such as LSD, tolerance develops with repeated use requiring more frequent and higher doses to achieve the desired high. PCP is another hallucinogen that can lead to addiction. Indications of PCP addiction may include cravings, sweating, and headaches. 5
Unfortunately, researchers have much more research before the addictive potential of many hallucinogenic drugs is well understood.
Hallucinogen abuse may also lead to an overdose in some instances. Again, the potential for overdose depends on the drug and its use. Because most of these drugs produce highly undesirable and unpleasant effects at high doses, many people do not take significant enough doses of the drug to lead to elevated overdose risk. As unpleasant as these effects are, they are not often life-threatening.
Hallucinogens overdose is more likely with certain dissociative drugs like PCP, which can cause life-threatening effects like coma and seizures. Withdrawal symptoms like sweating, powerful cravings, panic attacks, mood swings, tremors, seizures, speech problems, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and headaches may occur when withdrawing from these drugs.
Although many hallucinogenic drugs are not considered physically addictive, the potential for psychological addiction is high. As a result, hallucinogen withdrawal can be challenging. When someone is dependent on hallucinogens, it is important to seek help at a hallucinogens rehab to ensure you can safely withdraw from these substances.
There are several treatment options available to help you overcome hallucinogen addiction. The most effective programs incorporate therapeutic models such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. These tools have been proven effective in helping treat hallucinogen dependence. In addition to treatment, peer support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are effective components of a comprehensive treatment program. 6
If you or a loved one struggle with an addiction to hallucinogenic drugs, it is essential to choose a program with the support and guidance you need to overcome dependency safely and effectively. Find help today at Genesis Recovery by calling a member of our admissions team to learn more about our treatment programs.