How to recognize the signs of hallucinogens addiction symptoms
Is someone you know addicted to hallucinogens? Learn how to recognize the tell-tale hallucinogens addiction symptoms that can indicate a problem. Hallucinogens, also known as psychedelics, are psychoactive drugs that cause users to experience reality in an altered manner. When users are under the influence of hallucinogens, they may see images, hear sounds, or feel sensations that are not actually occurring. While hallucinogens have historically been used in religious rituals, most users of hallucinogenic drugs take them for social or recreational reasons. Using hallucinogens even a single time can result in flashbacks and negative effects that can plague users for years.
Hallucinogens can be naturally occurring substances or manufactured chemical substances, and fall into three specific categories characterized as psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. They may be smoked or vaporized, ingested as capsules or pills, drunk as tea, consumed raw or dried, snorted, injected, or absorbed through the mouth off drug-soaked paper pieces (blotters). Common hallucinogens include:
- Peyote (mescaline)
- Psilocybin (mushrooms)
- DMT (Dimitri)
- Dextromethorphan (DXM)
- PCP (angel dust)
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
When someone is abusing hallucinogens, they display certain recognizable psychological, physical, and mental or mood effects. The signs of hallucinogen abuse range from immediate, short-lived symptoms that occur while individuals are actually under the influence of the drugs, to symptoms of long term hallucinogen abuse that develop over time. Some of the effects of hallucinogen abuse may occur long after the drug has been used.
The speed with which hallucinogen side effects occur depends on the drug and the method used to ingest it. The effects of hallucinogens that are smoked, such as salvia, appear within a minute and typically last 30 minutes or less. Hallucinogens taken as tablets or on blotters begin to act on users’ systems within 20 to 90 minutes and are of much longer duration, lasting as long as 6 to 12 hours. The recognizable signs of hallucinogen abuse include:
- Psychological signs – altered perceptions of time, synthesia (crossed senses; hearing sounds or tasting colors), intensified feelings and sensory experiences, spiritual experience
- Physical signs – increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature; sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, dry mouth, uncoordinated movements, excessive sweating, nausea
- Mental or mood signs – relaxation, euphoria, paranoia, psychosis, panic, feelings of detachment
What users experience on hallucinogens is unpredictable. Depending on the drug formulation, users’ state of mind or mood when they take the drug, and other factors not entirely understood, users can experience a deliriously joyous or spiritually satisfying experience one time they take a drug, and be trapped in the nightmare experience of a “bad trip” the next time they take the exact same hallucinogen. Since hallucinogens cause a distortion of users’ perception of time, a bad experience can seem to last an eternity.
Some of hallucinogens negative effects can appear long after using the drugs. Although these effects are rare, they have devastating effects on individuals’ lives. These long-term negative effects include:
- Flashbacks – unpredictable, sudden reoccurrences of the hallucinations, visual, and auditory disturbances and effects of hallucinogen use
- Persistent psychosis – a condition characterized by visual disturbances, paranoia, disorganized thinking, mood disorders
- Mental symptoms that mimic the effects of a stroke or brain tumor, including speech problems, memory loss, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts
Treatment for hallucinogens abuse
There are no medications approved to treat hallucinogens abuse at this time, as hallucinogen addiction is primarily psychological, not physical. Many patients find their best chance of recovery through inpatient rehab treatment programs where they receive intensive behavioral therapy and instruction in relapse prevention strategies.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.