Hallucinogen Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment
Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that cause hallucinations in which people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem very real, but are not.1
Hallucinogen drugs are usually classified into two different categories: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. Both types of drugs produce similar side effects and can be man-made or may be found in plants or mushrooms.
Researchers are still working to fully understand how hallucinogens work, but it is believed that they temporarily disrupt the communication between neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord. In turn, this affects bodily functions like mood, sensory perception, muscle control, and more.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 1.4 million people 12 or older were current users of hallucinogens. Young adults ages 18 to 25 were the most prevalent hallucinogen users among individuals ages 12 and up.2
There are many different kinds of hallucinogens and people use them in various ways, such as:
- Swallowing them as tablets, pills, or liquid
- Consuming them raw or dried
- Brewing them in tea
- Snorting them
- Injecting them
- Inhaling, vaping, or smoking them
- Absorbing them through the lining in the mouth via drug-soaked papers3
Most hallucinogens are not considered addictive, although some do produce tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms.4 For example, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), LSD is not classified as an addictive drug because it does not produce uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors. However, it does produce tolerance. As a result, many users may begin taking larger doses of the drug to achieve the same effects, which can be very dangerous and may cause an overdose.
Conversely, PCP is one hallucinogenic drug that is known to be addictive, as it causes common withdrawal symptoms like cravings, headaches, and sweating, among others.
The addictive qualities of other hallucinogens like DMT are yet to be determined. Researchers need to continue studying hallucinogens more to accurately determine whether they are addictive or not.
LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide)
Acid, Battery Acid, Blotter, Boomers, California, Sunshine, Cid, Doses, Dots, Golden Dragon, Heavenly Blue, Hippie, Loony Toons, Lucy, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Microdot, Pane, Purple Heart, Superman, Tab, Window Pane, Yellow Sunshine, Zen
Alice, Boomers, Buttons, Caps, Champiñones, Hongos, Magic, Magic Mushrooms, Mushies, Mushrooms, Pizza Toppings, Shrooms, Tweezes
Black Button, Britton, Button, Cactus, Green Button, Half Moon, Hikori, Hikuli, Hyatari, Nubs, Seni, Shaman, Tops
Angel Dust, Supergrass, Boat, Tic Tac, Zoom, Shermans
Blind Squid, Cat Valium, Green, Honey Oil, Jet, K, Keller, Kelly’s Day, K-Hold, K-Ways, Special K, Super Acid, Vitamin K
Diviner’s sage, Maria Pastora, Sally-D, Magic Mint
Huasca, Yagé, Brew, Daime, The Tea, La Purga
Some common examples of hallucinogens and dissociative drugs are listed below.5
Examples of classic hallucinogens include:
- LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide)
- Psilocybin (Magic mushrooms)
- Peyote (Mescaline)
- DMT (Dimethyltryptamine)
Examples of dissociative drugs include:
Other examples of hallucinogenic drugs include:
Many different factors affect how long hallucinogens will stay in your system, such as:
- The type of hallucinogen drug used
- How much of the drug was used
- Individual biological factors (age, health, weight)
- The type of sample obtained for testing (hair, urine, blood, etc.)
For example, LSD is one of the most commonly abused hallucinogens. Drug test detection times for LSD are as follows:
- Urine: 2-4 days after the last use
- Blood: 6-12 hours after the last use
- Hair: Up to 90 days after the last use6
The side effects of hallucinogen abuse can vary greatly depending on the person, the type of hallucinogenic drug taken, how much was taken, and whether any other drugs were used with it. Generally speaking, here are some of the most common side effects of hallucinogens:
- Blurry vision
- Intense relaxation
- Loss of coordination
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased body temperature
Sometimes, people who use hallucinogens may also experience what’s known as a “bad trip.” This is an adverse reaction to the drug. Side effects of a bad trip include:
- Unpleasant/intense hallucinations
- Intense fear
- Drug-induced psychosis
- Dangerous and/or life-threatening behavior7
High doses of hallucinogens can be too much for the body to handle and may cause an overdose. However, death rarely occurs from the drug overdose itself. Instead, many fatal hallucinogen overdoses occur due to risky behaviors, suicide, and physical injuries.
Signs of a hallucinogen overdose can vary depending on the drug, but may include:
- Depressed breathing
It’s important to call 911 immediately if you believe you or a loved one is experiencing an overdose caused by hallucinogens.
Not all hallucinogens produce withdrawal symptoms, but some drugs like PCP or ketamine do. Some people may become physically dependent on these drugs and experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop, such as:
- Stiff muscles
- Depressed breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Extreme changes in body temperature
Quitting hallucinogens can be difficult, especially if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, medical detox can provide 24/7 monitoring and medication-assisted treatment to reduce the severity of hallucinogen withdrawal symptoms. A medical detox program also offers a safe and supportive environment that is conducive to lasting sobriety, physical healing, and emotional healing.
The hallucinogen withdrawal timeline varies greatly depending on the person and the type of hallucinogen drug that was used. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms can also vary greatly so it’s very difficult to pin down a specific timeline of withdrawal symptoms.
Some of the most common signs of hallucinogen abuse and addiction may include:
- Bizzare or erratic behavior
- Difficulty walking straight or having other coordination problems
- Extreme changes in appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid breathing
- Poor perception of time, space, and distance
- Risky and/or dangerous behaviors
While many hallucinogens aren’t considered addictive, chronic use of these drugs can cause serious psychological problems that can last for weeks, months, or even years. If you’re physically dependent or psychologically addicted to hallucinogens, there is help available and there’s no better time to take advantage of it than right now.
The first step to recovery from hallucinogen addiction is often detox, which will help you overcome your physical dependence. Clinical care is also provided during this time, which prepares you for entry into a rehab program and paves the way for emotional and spiritual healing down the road.
Inpatient or outpatient rehab can provide many different types of behavioral therapy and specialized therapy to address the root causes of your addictive behaviors and help you unpack the issues and/or mental health problems that have contributed to your substance abuse.
At Nova Recovery Center, we offer a full continuum of care that incorporates detox, rehab, sober living, and aftercare services to help you overcome your addiction and take hold of a healthier and happier life. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey, call (512) 605-2955 to speak with a Nova representative today.
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