According to the NIDA, “the effects of hallucinogens are highly variable and unreliable, producing different effects in different people at different times.” This means that, although PCP and ecstasy are the only hallucinogenic drugs that are considered to be addictive and have addicting properties, it does mean that a person cannot become dependent on certain hallucinogens. Here are some common signs of hallucinogen dependence.
Most hallucinogens do not cause extreme, physical withdrawal symptoms the way substances like heroin or alcohol do. While this can make withdrawal from hallucinogens more difficult to spot, it does not mean that they do not exist. According to the ADF, “Psychological withdrawal symptoms are more common than physical symptoms,” but this does not mean that both do not exist. Someone who is experiencing withdrawal from hallucinogens will exhibit signs of:
- “Reduced ability to experience pleasure”
Someone who is dependent on these drugs will exhibit these signs when they suddenly stop taking hallucinogens. It will often be displayed in the person’s behavior or mood, but withdrawal from hallucinogens can be very scary if one does not understand what is happening.
People who use hallucinogens in the long-term often experience flashbacks. The NIDA states, “Flashbacks occur suddenly, often without warning, and may do so within a few days or more than a year after” the individual uses hallucinogens. Drugs like LSD, peyote, and psilocybin are all hallucinogens which can cause flashbacks.
Because a person normally has to have been doing one of these drugs for a while in order to experience flashbacks, they often go hand-in-hand with dependence. Someone who has been taking hallucinogens in the long-term will rely on these drugs and will often experience these “recurrences of certain aspects of the drug experience” which can point to dependence.
Not Feeling Normal Without Hallucinogens
Hallucinogens are often used because they make someone not feel normal. They were often incorporated into “ritualistic and spiritual traditions” and are now abused by those who want to feel something new, different, or strange. However, if you have been taking these drugs in the long-term, you may begin to feel that you feel more normal or more like yourself who you are on hallucinogens. This is a clear sign of dependence.
Anyone who becomes dependent on a drug usually does so because they do not feel like themselves without it. This is an especially troubling sign for hallucinogens, as people often use them to experience strange or interesting things and hallucinations, (sights, sounds, and tactile sensations which are not real).
Tolerance is an issue on its own, but it can often be simultaneous with dependence or can lead to dependence. Someone who is tolerant to a hallucinogen needs more each time in order to feel its effects. CESAR states, “Tolerance to peyote or mescaline typically develops rapidly with repeated daily use, generally within 3-6 days.” This can also lead to cross-tolerance with other drugs like LSD and psilocybin.
If a person becomes tolerant to one type of hallucinogenic drug, it can often be true that they can become tolerant to another very quickly. Tolerance often leads to dependence, addiction, overdose, and death (the final issues especially in the case of drugs like PCP).
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