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Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogen Abuse

The use of hallucinogenic drugs is incredibly dangerous, causing many physical and psychological effects. When a person is abusing hallucinogens, these effects will only become worse. If you are concerned that someone close to you is abusing hallucinogens, look for these signs and symptoms.

Types of Hallucinogenic Drugs

There are actually several different types of hallucinogenic drugs. The NIDA states that hallucinogens work “at least partially by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.” The most common types of hallucinogenic drugs are:

These drugs are all hallucinogens, meaning that they cause strange behavior and “profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality” (NIDA). Any of these drugs will cause most of the signs and symptoms listed below.

Physical Signs of Hallucinogen Abuse

use of hallucinogens

Paranoia and confusion are possible effects of hallucinogens.

There are physical signs that a person may be abusing hallucinogens. They are:

  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleeplessness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Numbness
  • Nausea
  • Energy increase
  • “Dilated or floating pupils” (DOI)
  • Problems with coordination

Physically, hallucinogens cause the body of the abuser to experience an increase of energy as well as a spike in blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate. A person who is abusing hallucinogens will exhibit these signs when using the drug and then crash afterward.

PCP can also cause an extreme insensitivity to pain. Someone who is abusing PCP will often become extremely hurt and not realize it because he or she cannot feel the pain. This is a definite sign of hallucinogen abuse.

Behavioral Signs of Hallucinogen Abuse

Hallucinogens cause many psychological problems for abusers which can often be observed in the individual’s behavior. Someone who is abusing hallucinogenic drugs will act very strangely. Often, the person on hallucinogens will exhibit signs of:

  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
    • This is very common with hallucinogenic drugs. Some people feel that these drugs elevate them to another state of being and that is why they do them. Their hallucinations will show in their behavior.
  • Aggressiveness
  • Violent behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Mixed senses
    • “‘Seeing’ sound or ‘hearing’ colors” (NIDA 2)
  • “Poor perception of time and distance” (DOI)
  • Panic, fear, terror, or other emotions caused by the hallucinations or other effects of the drug
  • Drug-seeking behavior
    • A dangerous condition in which the person will do anything to get more of the drug, not caring if he or she is in danger because of these actions
  • Risky behaviors and poor judgements
    • Including unsafe sex, dangerous or painful acts, and other behaviors that hallucinogen abusers might not normally do in their right minds
  • Extremes of appetite (either increase or loss of such)

Someone who is abusing hallucinogens will behave strangely and will often act without meaning or warning. Because the psychological effects of hallucinogens are so intense, a person’s behavior when on these drugs will be the same.

For someone who is abusing hallucinogens, behaviors and physical symptoms like these are not often noticeable. However, these signs and symptoms are very obvious to observers who know what to look for. If you believe someone you know is abusing hallucinogens, look for these signs and seek treatment immediately.

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