According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “people report using hallucinogenic drugs for more social or recreational purposes, including to have fun, help them deal with stress, or enable them to enter into what they perceive as a more enlightened sense of thinking or being.”
Various types of treatment for hallucinogens abuse and addiction are available to help support recovery for the hallucinogen abuser to detox safely from the drugs, improve physical, emotional, and mental health, prevent relapse, and live a satisfying, productive, and self-directed life.
Effects of Hallucinogens Abuse and Addiction
Hallucinogens alter perceptions, cognition, psychomotor functions, and multiple senses depending on the person, type of hallucinogen used and the route of administration, context and surroundings of use. Although most abusers hope to have a positive experience during their hallucinogenic “trip”, the effects of hallucinogens can be unpredictable in every person and usage event with significant dangers and long-term health consequences.
Tolerance and dependency develop during the course of repeat cycles of abuse as a number of physiological adaptations to hallucinogen use and residual changes in brain and central nervous system functions take place. Some of the effects are dramatic leading to severe depression and other emotional, cognitive, psychomotor, and behavioral or personality disorders that are difficult to reverse. According to the NIDA “It is often difficult to disentangle the overlapping symptoms of drug addiction and other mental illnesses”.
A large majority of hallucinogen abuse detox treatments are initiated in hospitals or emergency departments when the abuser suffers a “bad trip”, overdose, injury, or other medical complication from their hallucinogen abuse. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, in 2011, hallucinogens were involved in the following numbers of emergency department visits:
- PCP – 75,538
- MDMA- 22,498
- Miscellaneous hallucinogens – 8,043
- LSD – 4,819
- GHB – 2,406
- Ketamine – 1,550
Detox treatment for hallucinogens abuse and addiction primarily involves close observations and interventions for the dangerous side effects that hallucinogens can cause as well as the withdrawal symptoms that evolve as the drugs are eliminated from the system.
Stabilization is the first stage of effective treatment that may require medications such as anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, or anti-anxiety drugs to make sure the safety of the person and those around them can be ensured.
Treatment for hallucinogens abuse and addiction is most effective when it is customized to address all aspects of the individual’s life including their physical and psychological health, poly-substance abuse, family, environmental, and other social concerns.
Individual, group, and family counseling services are offered in the majority of mental health and substance abuse treatment programs to “get to the root of the problems”, improve communications and relationships, and motivate the abuser toward positive changes. The structured guidance of a counselor helps the patient stay on track and in the right perspectives as they strive to achieve their potentials and goals of recovery.
12-step and peer support groups are advocated to enhance treatment approaches. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are well known groups that support recovery efforts in open and non-judgmental ways. In these groups, there is a sense of shared camaraderie that helps individuals gain feedback, insight, and advice from others undergoing similar circumstances.
There are different types of behavioral therapy treatments for hallucinogens abuse and addiction that can be implemented based on the unique needs of the individual with different approaches offered by the treatment providers. Hallucinogen addiction is a mental illness that is treatable like other mental illnesses and behavioral therapies are key elements of support for illness management and recovery (IMR).
Combining behavioral therapies with pharmacological treatments for mental health stability is often the best course of action whenever a dual-diagnosis of hallucinogen abuse and mental health disorders exist. According to the SAMHSA, “The overall goals of IMR are to:
- Learn about mental illnesses and strategies for treatment;
- Decrease symptoms;
- Reduce relapses and rehospitalizations; and
- Make progress toward goals and toward recovery.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used treatment for hallucinogens abuse and addiction to help individuals identify negative thought patterns, emotions, and problematic behaviors and learn how to make healthy lifestyle changes that decrease the urges to use hallucinogens and other substances; paying particular attention to symptoms of psychosis, depression, and other co-existing mental health-related problems that are exacerbated by stress.
Increasing awareness of high-risk situations and warning signs and developing avoidance strategies and coping skills for handling those situations is an important part of treatment known as relapse prevention and knowing what to do should relapse occur is equally important to ensure any long term recovery success.
Motivational therapies use incentives to reward individuals for achieving certain treatment goals or for contingency management purposes such as having a clean urinalysis. According to the SAMHSA “An individual’s motivation to change can be strongly influenced by family, friends, emotions, and community support. Lack of community support, such as barriers to health care, employment, and public perception of substance abuse, can also affect an individual’s motivation.”
Multidimensional Family Therapy
A large majority of hallucinogen abusers are adolescents, teens, and young adults. Hallucinogen abuse can have a tremendous impact on developmental health of younger individuals and lead to long term disparities in their quality of life such as hindering education and career opportunities.
These individuals are up against some tough internal and external influences compounded by peer pressure and behavioral or personality disorders that keep them using the drugs and causing conflicts within their family dynamics. Multidimensional family therapy was developed for adolescents and their families to address the wide range of issues pertaining to drug use patterns and the improvement of family relations.
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