A hallucinogen is a psychoactive agent which can cause hallucinations, perception irregularities and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion and consciousness. Users see images, hear sounds and feel sensations that seem very real but do not exist.
Hallucinogens and dissociative drugs—which have street names like acid, angel dust, and vitamin K—distort the way a user perceives time, motion, colors, sounds, and self. These drugs can disrupt a person’s ability to think and communicate rationally, or even to recognize reality, sometimes resulting in bizarre or dangerous behavior. Hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin, peyote, DMT and ayahuasca cause emotions to swing wildly and real-world sensations to appear unreal, sometimes frightening. Dissociative drugs like PCP, ketamine, DXM and salvia may make a user feel out of control and disconnected from their body and environment.
In addition to their short-term effects on perception and mood, hallucinogenic drugs are associated with psychotic-like episodes that can occur long after a person has taken the drug, and dissociative drugs can cause respiratory depression, heart rate abnormalities and a withdrawal syndrome. Because of their unpredictable nature, the use of hallucinogens can be particularly dangerous.
If you or a loved one has become dependent on hallucinogens, the compassionate addiction specialists at recoveryas.com can help you regain a life of sobriety. Call us today, toll free, at 1 (877) 968-6283, to begin the process of reclaiming your sober life.
Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)
Mushrooms containing psilocybin—4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms—are available fresh or dried and are typically taken orally. They may be brewed as a tea or added to other foods to mask their bitter flavor. The effects of psilocybin, which appear within 20 minutes to two hours of ingestion, last approximately three to six hours.
The active compounds in “magic” mushrooms containing psilocybin have LSD-like properties and produce alterations of autonomic function, motor reflexes, behavior and perception. The psychological consequences of psilocybin use include hallucinations, an altered perception of time and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose. Long-term effects such as flashbacks, risk of psychiatric illness, impaired memory and tolerance have been described.
Psilocybin can produce muscle relaxation or weakness, ataxia, excessive pupil dilation, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Individuals who abuse psilocybin mushrooms also risk poisoning if one of many existingvarieties of poisonous mushrooms is incorrectly identified as a psilocybin mushroom.
With regular and repeated use of psilocybin mushrooms, tolerance to the effects will occur. In addition, cross-tolerance occurs with other drugs, including LSD and mescaline. Without a period of abstinence from mushrooms and these other drugs, no amount of hallucinogens will produce a psychedelic effect.
However, with a period of discontinued use, initial effects can be achieved again. For several days following the use of mushrooms, users may experience a period of psychological withdrawal and have difficulty discerning reality.
LSD, also called acid, is one of the most potent mood- and perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. It is a clear or white, odorless, water-soluble material synthesized from lysergic acid. LSD can be taken as tablets, known as microdots, or thin squares of gelatin called window panes. It can also be diluted with water or alcohol and sold in liquid form. The most commonform, however, is LSD-soaked paper punched into small individual squares, known as blotters, that are placed under the tongue.
It usually takes between 30 to 90 minutes to start feeling the effects of LSD, which can last between six and 12 hours. It takes some people another two to six hours to feel normal again and be able to sleep.
The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in a large enough dose, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The user’s sense of time and self changes. Sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. In fact, some people never recover from an acid-induced psychosis.
An LSD trip can have long-term psychological or emotional effects with some usersreporting significant continuing changes in their personality and life perspective. LSD may trigger panic attacks or extremeanxiety, referred to as a “bad trip”. There is evidence that people with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia have a higher likelihood of experiencing adverse effects from taking LSD.
LSD users can also experience flashbacks or recurrences of certain aspects of the drug experience. Flashbacks occur suddenly and may do so within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. In some individuals, the flashbacks can persist and cause significant distress or impairment in social or occupational functioning
LSD produces tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take progressively higher doses to achieve the state of intoxication that they had previously achieved. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug. In addition, cross-tolerance between LSD and other hallucinogens has been reported.
Peyote is a small, spineless cactus in which the principal active ingredient is mescaline. This plant has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of religious ceremonies. Mescaline can also be produced through chemical synthesis.
The top of the peyote cactus, also referred to as the crown, consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried. These buttons are generally chewed or soaked in water to produce an intoxicating liquid. The hallucinogenic dose of mescaline is about 0.3 to 0.5 grams, and its effects last about 12 hours. Because the extract is so bitter, some individuals prefer to prepare a tea by boiling the cacti for several hours.
Its effects can be similar to those of LSD, including increased body temperature and heart rate, uncoordinated movements (ataxia), profound sweating and flushing. Peyote abusers may also experience flashbacks.
PCP is often sold on the illicit drug market in a variety of tablet, capsule and colored powder forms that are normally snorted, smoked or orally ingested. For smoking, PCP is often applied to a leafy materialsuch as mint, parsley, oregano or marijuana. Depending upon how much and by what route PCP is taken, its effects can last approximately four to six hours.
PCP is a “dissociative drug,” meaning that it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment (dissociation) from the environment and self. Some abusers continue to use PCP due to the resultant feelings of strength, power and invulnerability as well as the mind-numbing effect that PCP can induce. Among the adverse psychological effects reported are:
- Symptoms that mimic schizophrenia, such as delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, disordered thinking, and a sensation of distance from one’s environment.
- People who have abused PCP for long periods of time have reported memory loss, difficulties with speech and thinking, depression and weight loss. These symptoms can persist up to one year after stopping PCP abuse.
- Addiction: PCP is addictive—its repeated abuse can lead to craving and compulsive PCP-seeking behavior, despite severe adverse consequences.
While intoxicated, PCP abusers may become violent or suicidal and are therefore dangerous to themselves and others. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Because PCP can also have sedative effects, interactions with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can also lead to coma.
In 2013, 6.5 million people aged 12 or older reported that they had used PCP at some time in their life. However, only 90,000 people reported use in the past year—a decrease from 172,000 in 2012.
Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic brew made from one of several Amazonian plants containing DMT along with a vine containing a natural alkaloid that prevents the normal breakdown of DMT in the digestive tract. DMT has a powerful effect on consciousness that is described by many as spiritual and is characterized by detailed, very bright and colorful visions. Indigenous people say that during their trance, they enter the world of the spirits and communicate with them.
Ayahuasca tea is capable of inducing altered states of consciousness, usually lasting between four to eight hours after ingestion. Ranging from mildly stimulating to extremely visionary, ayahuasca is usedprimarily as a medicine and as a means of communication, typically in a ceremonial session under the guidance of an experienced shaman. Most recently, ayahuasca has been in the news as celebrities experiment with it as a treatment for their addiction disorders.
Ketamine, also known as K, Special K or cat Valium, is a dissociative currently used as an anesthetic for humans as well as animals. Much of the ketamine sold on the street has been diverted from veterinary offices. Although it is manufactured as an injectable liquid, ketamine is generally evaporated to form a powder that is snorted or compressed into pills for illicit use. Because ketamine is odorless and tasteless and has amnesia-inducing properties, it is sometimes added to drinks to facilitate sexual assault.
For more information about ketamine, please see “ketamine” under Types of Addiction/Drugs.
DXM, also known as robo, is a cough suppressant and expectorant ingredient in some over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medications that are often abused by adolescents and young adults. The most common sources of abused DXM are extra-strength cough syrup, which typically contains around 15 milligrams of DXM per teaspoon and pills and gel capsules, which typically contain 15 milligrams of DXM per pill. OTC medications that contain DXM often also contain antihistamines and decongestants.
Salvia, also known as diviner’s sage, Maria Pastora, Sally-D or magic mint, is a psychoactive plant common to southern Mexico and Central and South America. Salvia is typically ingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices. The dried leaves of salvia can also be smoked or vaporized and inhaled.
Although the dosage ingested and the method of ingestion affects the user’s experience, some common effects include intense hallucinations, such as sensations of traveling through time and space, of floating or flying, sensations of twisting and spinning, heaviness or lightness of the body and soreness. Less intense effects that occur only when the eyes are closed include visual hallucinations of various patterns and shapes. The hallucinogenic visions produced by salvia terminate when interrupted by noise or light.
Alpha-methyltryptamine (AMT) is a stimulant hallucinogen that has recently been emerging in the club and rave scene. It is part of a class of chemicals called tryptamines, which produce hallucinogenic effects. Because this drug is so new, not much is known about its pharmacological effects.
AMT is most often found in a crystalline powder form that can be portioned into pills or capsules or mixed into water for ingestion. The drug can also be taken intranasally or smoked and is most often purchased from chemical companies on the Internet.
The effects of AMTand other tryptamines are highly dose-dependent. A moderate dose of AMT (20 mg) causes effects that last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Some reports contend that the effects of AMT are similar to those of mescaline
During the first half of 2013, law enforcement officials in Colorado encountered 25i (also known as 25-NBOMe, Smiles, 25I-NBOMe, NBOMe), a new, highly potent hallucinogen. The drug has been encountered as a white powder, as a liquid in dropper bottles and soaked onto blotter paper. 25i is related to, but much more potent than, the hallucinogens 2C-I, and 2C-B and can be made from 2C-I or from other available commercial chemicals. This drug is one of several potent new hallucinogens, whichare simply modifications, or analogs, of older controlled hallucinogenic drugs, e.g., 2C-B, 2CC, and 2C-I.
Treatment for hallucinogen addiction
Overall, two long-term effects—persistent psychosis and Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)—have been associated with use of classic hallucinogens. Occurrence of either is unpredictable and sometimes both conditions occur together. While the exact causes are not known, both conditions are more often seen in individuals with a history of psychological problems but can happen to anyone, even after a single exposure.
There is no established treatment for HPPD, in which flashbacks may occur spontaneously and repeatedly although less intensely than their initial occurrence. Although some antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs may be prescribed to help improve mood and treat psychoses, psychotherapy will help patients cope with the fear or confusion associated with visual disturbances or other consequences of long-term use.
At recoveryas.com, we are dedicated to finding the correct solution for your specific addiction problem, whether it’s hallucinogens, prescription medicines, opiates or alcohol. Call us today and we will match you with the drug addiction program that will get you on the path to a clean and sober life.
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