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Hallucinogens Addiction And Abuse
Are You Feeling Trapped in a Psychedelic Spiral?
The grip of hallucinogens can feel unbreakable, but at Miracles Asia, we help you reclaim your strength. Experience our individualized treatment programs in the serene setting of Thailand and discover your path to a fulfilling, substance-free life
Hallucinogens, in the broadest terms, are a group of mind-altering substances that occur naturally or can be manufactured. We can encounter them in various forms, LSD, PCP, or Ketamine being some of the most recognizable.
People who take hallucinogens do so to experience their various effects, like states of euphoria, hallucinations, and distorted perception of physical objects, time, and places. Although not the most dangerous, hallucinogens can be addictive, so it's essential to learn how to recognize the signs of dependency and where to receive help.
What Are Hallucinogens and How Do They Affect Human Brain?
Hallucinogens or psychedelic drugs affect various brain processes, causing feelings of confusion and disrupting sensory perception. A person under the influence of these substances can experience various states ranging in intensity and duration.
It's common for people to perceive their surroundings differently, seeing visions and patterns, as well as experiencing heightened states of joy or peace.
Hallucinogens can be divided into two main categories: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. While both classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs cause various types of hallucinations, the latter can be responsible for more intense states of dissociation when a person affected can have what are called "out-of-body" experiences, feeling detached from their surroundings and body.
How Do Hallucinogens Work?
Hallucinogens act on neural circuits in the brain, affecting the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for regulating our mood, cognition, and perception. Some of these substances interact with how the brain chemical serotonin works, producing intense feelings of joy, euphoria, or tranquility.
Hallucinogenic substances can also influence one's responses to fear and stress. Most people choose to ingest hallucinogens in order to experience trips that consist of hallucinations, states of deep relaxation, disturbed perception, etc.
People on hallucinogens may see and hear things that aren't real, see objects and surroundings in more vivid colors, can "sense" their surroundings using various senses, like smell or vision, and experience the passage of time differently from normal.
Currently, we don't have enough research to determine just how dangerous a prolonged use of hallucinogenic drugs can be, however, we know about some serious adverse effects it can cause as well as that it is possible to develop hallucinogen addiction, which is enough of a reason to approach these substances with caution.
Hallucinogens Abuse - Causes and Risk Factors
Are hallucinogens addictive? The simple answer is yes, they can be. Research has shown that some forms of hallucinogens can be more addictive than others, and although developing dependency on them is relatively uncommon (especially in comparison to other, much more popular stimulants and opioids), it's still possible.
While there aren't that many cases of LSD addiction, substances like MDMA have a higher addictive potential, primarily increasing the risk of developing physiological dependency.
The fact is that not every person will develop a hallucinogenic addiction, and there are many factors at play, including genetics and environmental factors, that can influence one's susceptibility to substance abuse.
Some risks factors that may increase one's chance of getting addicted to hallucinogens include:
history of substance abuse;
family history of substance abuse;
history of mental illnesses;
having unlimited access to psychedelic drugs;
functioning in an environment that normalizes drug abuse and hallucinogen abuse.
Short-term Effects of Hallucinogens
These mind-altering drugs can cause a range of different symptoms. Some short-term effects of hallucinogens include:
increased blood pressure, breathing rate, or body temperature;
death (often related to other factors, like acting on suicidal thoughts or taking part in high-risk activities).
The important thing to mention is the fact that although it's rare to experience a fatal overdose from classic hallucinogens (it's more common with some dissociative drugs, like PCP or ketamine) or experience severe, life-threatening reactions, most hallucinogens lead to a loss of a sense of reality.
This means that a person under the influence of these substances may put themselves in dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations and experience serious harm. That is why it would be a mistake to perceive hallucinogenic drugs as a "safer" alternative to other, more damaging substances.
Long-term Effects of Hallucinogens
We still have a lot to learn about the long-term hallucinogens symptoms and effects. Among them, we can single out symptoms such as:
hallucinogen persisting perception disorder;
persistent psychosis and flashbacks;
anxiety and depression;
Many of the effects of hallucinogens' prolonged use ease up after one or two years from the time a person stopped taking them. Some of these substances, like MDMA, ketamine, or PCP, can cause withdrawal symptoms, especially if they were used in high doses over a significant period.
Since some hallucinogens affect the way serotonin and brain chemical glutamate work, chemicals responsible for mood, pain perception, responses to the environment, and cognitive skills, among others, drugs like this often reinforce continued use, which may lead to the development of drug addiction and other health and mental problems.
That is why it's so crucial to pay attention to the first signs of hallucinogenic drug dependency.
Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogens Addiction
How addictive are common classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, the group that is most affected by hallucinogen abuse are people between 18 and 25 years old.
Both physical addiction and psychological dependence can be the direct result of the use of some hallucinogens.
What are the signs that may indicate one's developing an addiction? We can broadly put them into four categories.
Psychosocial symptoms include:
avoiding family and friends;
abandonment of hobbies;
rapid changes in behavior.
Some behavioral symptoms include:
wanting to stop taking hallucinogens but being unable to;
spending a significant amount of time taking drugs and recovering from the use;
continuing to use hallucinogens despite experiencing adverse reactions and consequences from it;
reaching for hallucinogenic drugs when it's inappropriate or even dangerous to do so;
needing to increase the dose to feel the same effect;
experiencing cravings for hallucinogens;
prioritizing using drugs over social, professional, and private obligations.
On the list of physical symptoms of hallucinogenic drug abuse, we can find symptoms such as:
increased heart rate;
increased blood pressure.
Some cognitive symptoms of addiction may include:
amnesia and problems with memory;
experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Hallucinogens Withdrawal Symptoms
Like with many other substances, withdrawal from hallucinogens can be a distressing and challenging experience. It's helpful to prepare yourself for it by learning about what to expect and how to receive help and support. In most cases, prolonged hallucinogen users will go through emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms of withdrawal.
What are some of the withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens?
elevated blood pressure;
disturbed perception of time;
disorientation and confusion;
elevated body temperature;
feelings of fear, panic;
intense hallucinogens cravings;
detachment from one's surroundings;
Some hallucinogen withdrawal side effects can start shortly after the drug wears off and leaves one's system and last only for a short period, while others can manifest themselves later and can last for a couple of weeks or months.
The severity of withdrawal symptoms will differ from person to person and will depend on many factors, such as the exact drug that's been abused, the dose, and the length of time a person was engaging in drug use, as well as some individual predispositions.
It might be crucial for one's recovery to reach out and receive help from close friends and family as well as drug abuse specialists. This phase of recovery is especially difficult, as one is experiencing sometimes severe symptoms and can be very susceptible to relapse.
This may lead to overdose, which can manifest itself with symptoms like:
rapid eye movement
high blood pressure;
lack of muscle control;
Every overdose has the potential to be fatal, which is why medical intervention is required for those who exhibit those symptoms.
We know how dangerous hallucinogens and hallucinogen addiction can be, and now it's time to talk about the most common classic hallucinogens and hallucinogenic drugs and how they may affect their users.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is one of the most potent synthetic hallucinogens. It's a Schedule I Drug that, in the past, was used to help patients in psychiatric care. LSD comes into interactions with the neurotransmitter serotonin, influencing one's perception of surroundings and producing visions, hallucinations, etc.
Phencyclidine (PCP) is most commonly responsible for producing intense "out-of-body" experiences mixed with feelings of agitation and instability. PCP is often added to various popular drugs, like Marijuana or LSD, which results in a heightened trip. When used in high doses, this substance can cause seizures, hallucinations, and coma.
Psychedelic shrooms, know also as magic mushrooms, contain substances like Psilocybin and Psilocin, which heightened sensory experiences, as well as affect one's ability to make conscious decisions while not being able to recognize what's real and what's a hallucination.
Magic shrooms can cause what are called "bad trips," during which a person can experience a variety of severe symptoms, like panic attacks and terrors.
Salvia Divinorum is a plant species with hallucinogenic properties. The common effects of the plant include feelings of losing track of time and space, floating through space, and a range of physical symptoms, like chills, nausea, and lack of coordination. Most popular methods of administration include chewing the leaves of the plant, drinking extracted juices, smoking or inhaling vapors.
Bath salts are a group of recreational designer drugs that are stimulants and usually take the form of white or brown crystal-like powder. These narcotics don't have a uniform chemical makeup, which means it's difficult to predict their exact effect. Some people report seeing disturbing visions after ingesting the drug.
Ketamine can cause memory loss, and due to this property and the fact that it has no taste or smell, it is referred to as a date-rape drug. It is most commonly used as a surgery anesthetic for humans and animals, but people source it illegally as well.
People under the influence of ketamine have disturbed pain perception and can feel detached from their bodies.
Dextromethorphan (DXM), known under names such as Poor Man's PCP, Robo, is, in fact, a cough suppressant ingredient which can be found in many cough and cold medications. It can induce hallucinations and states of euphoria if consumed in large quantities (which is exactly how it gets abused).
Asking for help in a time of crisis is the best thing you can do for yourself. Although hallucinogenic drugs and natural hallucinogens have the reputation of being relatively harmless, that is not the reality.
Abusing hallucinogens can lead to serious mental and physical problems. Overdose may result in kidney issues, cardiovascular and nervous system issues, seizures, and in rare cases, death. It's also possible to develop an addiction, which makes it difficult to stop using the drugs and prioritize one's well-being.
People who decide to break from their hallucinogens addiction may experience withdrawal symptoms, which is why it might be imperative to seek the help of specialists.
Where to go?
One way to treat addiction is by going through a rehab treatment in an addiction centre, where you'll be able to receive needed help and support from people who have experience and knowledge in how to conduct drug abuse therapy.
If you're struggling with hallucinogen use and you want to get clean and build strong foundations for your sobriety, see what we can do for you in our Residential Rehab in Thailand.
Beautiful scenery, peaceful beaches, and a group of well-trained and experienced specialists are awaiting you. Thanks to our personalized treatment plans, group therapy, individual therapy, medical treatment and support of experts in the field of drug addiction, you'll have the best chance of getting through addiction treatment, dealing with the withdrawal symptoms, learning about your triggers and how to navigate your life outside of our centre.
Contact us and see how you can change your life and start fresh.
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