Can Hallucinogens Be Addictive?

Hallucinogens have been used for centuries in spiritual or healing rituals or to create so-called mind-altering experiences. Today, they are typically used for recreational purposes, either individually or to enhance the experiences at clubs or parties. Questions about their safety remain unanswered, largely because they are still illicit drugs, and their manufacture is not controlled or supervised. Even when you can trust their source and know exactly what you are ingesting, do you know what the risks are? Can hallucinogens be addictive?

What are hallucinogens?

The class of drugs known as hallucinogens encompasses a wide variety of natural and synthetic drugs. Their name is derived from the commonality that all of them share: the ability to cause hallucinations. These can alter both your thoughts and feelings as well as your awareness of your surroundings. Hallucinogens are typically divided into two classes: hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. The distinction between the two categories is that dissociative drugs can make you feel dissociated or out of control of your environment or body.

There are classic hallucinogens that have been widely used.

  • LSD. A very powerful mind-altering chemical that is derived from a fungus that grows on rye and other grains in the form of a clear or white odorless liquid.
  • Mescaline/Peyote. Mescaline is the primary ingredient of a small cactus, but peyote can also be made synthetically.
  • Psilocybin. This hallucinogen is derived from specific mushrooms native to the United States, Mexico and South America.
  • DMT. This is a powerful chemical from specific plants native to the Amazon region. Teas derived from these plants are also known as hoasca, aya and yagé. DMT can also be made synthetically in the form of a white crystalline powder to be smoked.
  • N-Bomb/251/251-NBOMe. This is an extremely potent hallucinogen similar to LSD or MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy. Although developed for research purposes, it is often sold illegally.

There are different types of dissociative drugs.

  • PCP. Originally developed as a general anesthetic, its use was discontinued due to serious side effects. The illicit forms are liquid, white crystal powder, tablets and capsules.
  • Salvia. A plant native to Mexico, Central and South America, the leaves are often chewed fresh or the juices extracted for drinking. Dried leaves can also be vaporized or inhaled or smoked.
  • Ketamine. An anesthetic used for both humans and animals, it is available in pill, powder or injectable liquid form. Also sometimes used as a date-rape drug due to its ability to be added to drinks undetected.
  • Dextromethorphan/DXM. A common cough suppressant found in over-the-counter cold and cough medicines in syrup, tablet and gel capsule form.

Possible short and long-term side effects of hallucinogens.

Do you know the risks of the drugs you are taking? Some of the short-term side effects of hallucinogens and dissociative drugs include:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate or body temperature
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Breathing troubles
  • Intensified sensory experiences and feelings
  • Numbness
  • Altered sense of time/disoriented
  • Sleep problems
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Relaxation
  • Memory loss or amnesia
  • Loss of coordination or movement
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive anxiety or panic
  • Bizarre behaviors or mood swings
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

The long-term side effects are less common but include:

  • Persistent psychosis, which can include visual disturbances, paranoia, disorganized thinking and changes in mood.
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), commonly known as “flashbacks,” are recurring experiences from prior drug use that can occur as little as a few days or over a year afterward.

The hidden dangers of hallucinogens.

Compared to drugs in other categories, which have been studied much more, the biggest danger in consuming hallucinogens may not even be the potential for addiction. The dangers with hallucinogens are that they are not manufactured or regulated safely, often have varying levels of concentration, are laced with other substances, or perhaps are not even the substances you sought. For example, synthetic stimulants are often passed off as MDMA or Ecstasy and have serious health risks and none of the hallucinogenic properties desired.

Are hallucinogens addictive?

For a drug to be addictive by definition, it should cause uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior. Hallucinogens such as LSD do not match this definition exactly, but can create tolerance, in which regular usage causes them to require more and more of the drug in order to have the same effect. This can even extend to a tolerance of other hallucinogens such as psilocybin.

Other hallucinogens are very much addictive, such as PCP. Like other addictive drugs, discontinuing their use can create withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, heavy sweating, and intense cravings. Whether your usage becomes an addiction or a tolerance, when you cannot control how much or frequently you use a hallucinogen, then you need to seek help.

Can hallucinogens be addictive? Some yes, some no. Sometimes, building up a tolerance to certain drugs can be as devastating as an addiction. DiscoveryMD offers both outpatient and intensive outpatient services for substance abuse. For more information contact us today. Sometimes the best trip is putting you back in control of your life.

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