Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that alter perception, resulting in visual and auditory hallucinations (i.e., seeing, hearing or feeling things that aren’t really there), distorted cognitions and extreme distortions in a person’s sense of reality. There are different types of hallucinogens:

  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Peyote (Mescaline)
  • Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine)
  • Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
  • Ayahuasca

Researchers believe that hallucinogens affect the signals of brain chemicals such as serotonin, which plays a role in sensory perception, sexual behavior, mood regulation, cognition and muscular control, reported the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogen Abuse

Considering that hallucinogens belong to a disparate group of drugs, their effects are surprisingly uniform. Physical and psychological effects of hallucinogens include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Sweating and elevated heart rate
  • Shaking and impaired coordination
  • Hyperthermia and dehydration
  • Visual, auditory and tactile distortions and hallucinations
  • Altered perception of time and space
  • Profound spiritual experiences
  • Sweats/chills
  • Mood swings, paranoia, fear, anxiety and panic attacks
  • Nausea and vomiting

Commonly Abused Hallucinogens

One of the most powerful synthesized hallucinogens available is LSD. Also called “acid,” the drug ranges from a white or clear crystalline substance to tan or black, depending on its purity and adulterants. LSD is usually crushed into a fine powder and pressed into tablets or placed on small squares of gelatin, referred to as window panes. It’s also dissolved into a solution known as blotter acid and soaked into tiny paper squares. Its effects include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Synesthesia (a sensory phenomenon where people can see smells or hear colors)
  • Altered perception of time and space
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness

Psilocybin and Mescaline — the chief psychoactive constituents in psychedelic mushrooms and peyote, respectively — produce comparable hallucinogenic effects to LSD. Psilocybin is most commonly ingested in dried mushrooms or ground into a powder or pill form. The effects of psilocybin typically begin within an hour and can last up to six hours. Mescaline is usually ingested in the form of dried slices of peyote cacti or in pill form.

The differences between psilocybin and mescaline come down to variations in the types of hallucinations they induce. The hallucinations warp images, colors or movement of objects that can cause nausea, anxiety and panic attacks in teens and inexperienced users.

DMT and Ayahuasca are both powerful hallucinogenic chemicals found in Amazonian plant species in South America. DMT, also known as Dimitri, is a psychedelic tryptamine that can be synthesized into a white crystalline powder that is smoked in a pipe or vaporized by users. The effects of smoking DMT produce short-lived intense visual effects, and users report spiritual experiences.

DMT is the main psychoactive ingredient in Ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew that is also known as Aya, Yagé, Brew and Huasca. Ayahuasca has much longer-lasting effects than DMT, with the strongest effects lasting anywhere from two to six hours. Extreme spiritual experiences, visions, altered states of consciousness and hallucinations have been reported by users.

Hallucinogen Overdose

While hallucinogens generally have a low level of toxicity, people can have “bad trips,” in which they might commit suicide or have other fatal misadventures. Some types of hallucinogens, such as Ayahuasca, can have potentially fatal side effects if taken with certain prescription drugs. Although death due to hallucinogens overdose is rare due to their low toxicity, hallucinogens overdose can cause:

  • Depressed breathing
  • Coma
  • Heart attack

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Hallucinogens Addiction: Myth or fact?

Hallucinogens addiction is a myth, because a person can’t really become addicted to hallucinogens. However, people can develop a tolerance to hallucinogens, which can lead to psychological dependence on the drug and withdrawal effects.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Hallucinogens

Some of the withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens include:

  • Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Hallucinogens can also lead to re-experiencing certain events, feelings or other aspects of a trip, called “flashbacks,” in the weeks, months and years after taking the drugs. People can also develop a psychological dependence on hallucinogens, which can make it difficult for them to stop taking the drugs.

Addiction Treatment at Rancho San Diego

At Rancho San Diego’s treatment facility for males and females ages 12 to 17 years, we understand the uniqueness of every case, tailoring each treatment plan to the nuances of the patient’s mental health and psychopharmacological history. Our Rancho San Diego adolescent facility is accredited by The Joint Commission and licensed by the State of California Department of Social Services (DSS).

Our team of qualified medical and mental health professionals strives to provide the highest level of care and various treatment options for hallucinogens to each of our patients through practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). If you would like more information on the treatment options for hallucinogens at Rancho San Diego, please call our 24/7 helpline.

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