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What are the Effects of Hallucinogen Abuse?

Hallucinogen abuse has many negative effects, most of which may occur at any time during use of these drugs. Hallucinogens are very strong substances, and their abuse can cause problems, both psychological and physical. If you know someone who is abusing hallucinogens, or if you are abusing them yourself, consider the effects caused by hallucinogen abuse.

Why Do People Abuse Hallucinogens?

There are many reasons why people abuse these drugs. In the past, people used hallucinogenic plants for “religious rituals” hoping to “induce states of detachment from reality and precipitate ‘visions’ thought to provide mystical insight” (NIDA). Currently most people claim they abuse hallucinogens in order to:

  • Relieve stress
  • Have fun or enjoy the recreational and social effects of the drugs
  • “Enable them to enter into what they perceive as a more enlightened sense of thinking or being”
  • Treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, dementia, and bipolar disorder in new ways

For whatever reason a person takes hallucinogens, abuse of the drug can be highly dangerous. Most hallucinogens are habit-forming, leading to addiction.

Effects of Hallucinogen Abuse

  • Addiction
    Someone who becomes addicted to hallucinogens will not be able to think rationally about his or her drug use. Hallucinogen addicts will often continue to take these drugs even after they have begun causing clear problems in the individuals’ lives. These users will also experience:
  • Tolerance
    Tolerance is a state where the original dosage becomes less effective to the hallucinogen abuser, causing him or her to take more and more of the drug to feel its effects. CESAR states that peyote or mescaline tolerance “typically develops rapidly with repeated daily use” and “cross-tolerance may also occur with… LSD and psilocybin.”
  • Drug-seeking behavior
    Drug-seek behaviors are dangerous actions that hallucinogen addicts will perform in order to get more of the drug. This could lead to legal problems, physical harm, or other issues, but the addict will continue to seek hallucinogenic drugs in spite of this.
  • Dependence
    Some hallucinogens are not known to cause dependence, but “psychological dependence on PCP is known to be high” (DOI). This could lead to intense cravings for the drug or other psychological issues.

Other Effects of Hallucinogen Abuse

hallucinogens

Hallucinogen use can cause dangerous flashbacks among other consequences.

Abusing hallucinogens can cause many other effects, including:

  • Short-term effects
    • Increase in energy, heart rate, and blood pressure
    • Hallucinations
    • Issues with perception of distance and time
    • Confusion
    • Nausea
    • Decrease in pain sensitivity (PCP)
    • “Severe terrifying thoughts and feelings of despair” (LSD) (NIDA)
    • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Long-term effects
    • Persistent psychosis, characterized by:
      • Mood disturbances
      • Paranoia
      • Visual disturbances
      • Disorganized thinking (NIDA 1)
    • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)
      • Flashbacks to previous drug trips
      • Hallucinations
      • Visual disturbances “such as seeing halos or trails attached to moving objects”

The effects of hallucinogen abuse can be much more dangerous than people realize. Because tolerance can sometimes wear off after several days of not taking the drug and  the fact that some hallucinogens do not produce withdrawal symptoms, hallucinogen abusers sometimes do not realize the true danger of the effects of these drugs. If you know someone who is abusing hallucinogens, seek treatment for that person immediately. Every time a person takes hallucinogens, he or she is risking these effects.

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