Teen hallucinogen abuse

Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that alter perception, cause visual and auditory hallucinations (i.e., seeing, hearing or feeling things that aren’t real), distorted cognitions, and extreme distortions in a person’s sense of reality.

Naturally found in plants and synthetically produced in illicit laboratories, hallucinogens are used for their ability to alter human mood and perception. They affect the signals of brain chemicals such as serotonin, which plays a key role in sensory perception, sexual behavior, mood regulation, and cognition and muscular control. They are also known as Acid, Blotter, Blotter Acid, Cubes, Doses, Fry, Candy, Mushrooms and Special K.

Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs and some of their common types are:

  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Peyote (Mescaline)
  • Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine)
  • Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA (Ecstacy)
  • Ayahuasca

The 2016 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that an estimated 1.4 million people (aged 12 or above) used hallucinogens, while nearly 1,14,000 adolescents (aged 12 to 17) were reported to be current users.

Signs of hallucinogen abuse

Considering that hallucinogens belong to a disparate group of drugs, their effects are surprisingly uniform. Abusing these drugs can cause some serious physical and psychological effects.

Here are some common effects:

  • 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
  • Vomiting

Commonly abused hallucinogens

One of the most powerful synthesized hallucinogens available is LSD. Also called acid, the drug is available in various forms – white or clear crystalline substance, 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 up by tiny paper squares.

Psilocybin and Mescaline — the chief psychoactive constituents in psychedelic mushrooms and peyote, respectively — produce hallucinogenic effects comparable to that of LSD. Psilocybin is most commonly ingested in pill form or through dried mushrooms or as a powder form. The effects of psilocybin typically begin to surface within an hour and can last for up to six hours. Mescaline is usually ingested in the form of dried slices of peyote cacti or in pill form. The differences between both are in the types of hallucinations they induce.

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 through a pipe or vaporized by users. Smoking DMT produces short-lived intense visual effects and spiritual experiences.

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

Hallucinogen addiction is a myth. However, people can develop a tolerance to it, which can lead to psychological dependence on the drug and severe withdrawal effects.

Effects of overdose

While hallucinogens generally have a low level of toxicity, people can have ‘bad trips,’ in which they might commit suicide or suffer other fatal misadventures. Ayahuasca, particularly, can have potentially fatal side effects, if taken with certain prescription drugs.

Since they detach the users from the reality, death because of accidents, violence or suicide are some of the immediate threats. In addition, hallucinogens can also cause their users to experience paranoia or aggressiveness, pushing them to take dangerous actions unaware of the potential risks involved.

Although death due to hallucinogen overdose is rare, an overdose can cause users to experience depressed breathing, coma and heart attack.

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Withdrawal symptoms

Long-term hallucinogen abuse may produce uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms when its user tries to go cold turkey. Basis the frequency and duration of use and abuse, hallucinogen withdrawal symptoms may vary from user to user.

Given below are some of the common withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens:

  • 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.

Though unpleasant, the withdrawal symptoms can be managed effectively with a medically assisted detoxification treatment at certified hallucinogen detox centers.

Treatment for hallucinogen abuse

A comprehensive hallucinogen detox treatment involves not just the use of essential medications to taper the use of the drug, but also intense behavioral therapies and round the clock care.

While a detox program helps flush out the toxins and manage withdrawal symptoms, addiction treatment therapies help the patients learn effective life skills and live without drugs even after the treatment completion.

Why choose Sovereign Health

At Rancho San Diego’s treatment facility for males and females aged 12 to 17, we tailor-made each treatment plan to suit the patient’s condition and needs. Our 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 through practices, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, and experiential therapies, among others. If you want more information on our top-notch addiction treatment programs at Rancho San Diego or get connected to other state-of-the-art treatment centers, call our 24/7 helpline number and speak to our admission specialists. You can even chat online with a representative for further assistance.

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