Substance abuse is a widespread problem in both the United States and across the globe. One of the most common classifications of drugs that are misused is Hallucinogens or psychedelic drugs. This type of substance is often the easiest to become addicted to and the most difficult to get away from. Part of this is due to the effect the drug has on the human brain.
What Is A Hallucinogen?
Hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs alter a person’s perception of the world around them and cause them to hallucinate or see things that are not really there. Deliriants and dissociative drugs also fall into this classification because of the effect they have on an individual’s rational thought. Psychoactive drugs cause a variety of problems in the brain. They cause subjective changes to occur in emotion, consciousness, thought and perception creating an alternate sense of being that is quite different from normal reality.
While hallucinogens have their place in the medical field, they must be used with great care to prevent misuse and addiction. For centuries, hallucinogenic mushrooms and other psychoactive drugs have been used in religious and spiritual ceremonies and rituals. It was commonly used for initiations and rites of passage. Native American tribes used peyote for spiritual and physical healing, while other nations used other forms of hallucinogens to elicit the same response..
What Drugs Are Hallucinogens?
Several drugs fall into the category of hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs. A few of the more popular include:
- LSD – Discovered in 1938, LSD is one of the strongest of all psychedelic drugs. It dramatically alters both mood and perception and is highly addictive. It is made from lysergic acid and makes up a specific type of mold that grows on whole grains.
- PCP – PCP or phencyclidine was created and used as an IV anesthetic in the 1950’s. The drug was proven to produce a wide array of dangerous and sometimes deadly, side effects. After issues began to arise, its use in operating rooms and during office procedures was discontinued.
- Peyote – Peyote comes from a small cactus native to the Southwestern portion of the United States. Its active ingredient is mescaline which causes dramatic hallucinations and changes in perception. It has been used in spiritual and healing ceremonies of Native Americans for several centuries.
- Psilocybin – Psilocybin is the active component in psychedelic mushrooms. These types of mushrooms grow abundantly in parts of North America, South America and Mexico. Contrary to what some may believe, mushrooms are not plants, but fast growing fungi that grow in wooded areas and fields.
While there are several other medications that fall into this category, the above four are the primary substances most individuals misuse and abuse on a regular basis. These are also the ones that most treatment plans are modeled for. While each individual is different when it comes to the type and extent of treatment they receive, all plans and programs are able to be adapted to fit each person’s needs. This includes the type of drug they are addicted to, the extent of their addiction and how long they have been using.
Side Effects of Hallucinogenic Drugs
The hallucinogenic effects of drugs last from 30 to 90 minutes. Because of the subject nature of the drug, each person is affected differently. Some will be affected more than others. Individuals with an exceptionally high tolerance for various substances, may not feel much of anything. The longer a substance is used, the less potent they will become as the body continues to build resistance.
The list of side effects related to hallucinogenic drugs is extensive and varies from user to user. Dilated pupils, sleeplessness, dry mouth, increased heart rate, profuse sweating, tremors and an increase body temperature are all side effects that can be experienced during the use of psychoactive drugs.
A person’s emotional and mental state will be altered with the use of hallucinogenic drugs. Depending on where the drug is taken and the conditions during which the drugs are consumed, their reaction may be similar to that of a stimulant or of a pain killer. If the person is depressed or upset when the drug is taken, the result can be a deep melancholy or depression. If they are happy or excited, the results may be an enhanced feeling of euphoria.
Reactions Associated with Hallucinogenic Drugs
Physical reactions associated with hallucinogenic drugs include irritation, aggression, increased libido, feelings of invincibility, paranoia and depression. The circumstances surrounding the ingestion of the drug will determine what type of physical, mental and emotional reaction the user will have.
Individuals who have used drugs for several years may seem unaffected when large amounts of drugs are consumed. While they may appear fine physically and mentally, the reality is their body has built up a tolerance and the drugs must continually be increased for them to achieve the sort of high they require.
How Easy Is It to Become Addicted to Hallucinogenic Drugs?
Hallucinogenic or psychoactive drugs alter the way the chemicals in the brain and disrupts actual brain function. The more drugs that are introduced over an extended period of time can cause the brain to become dependent on the substances. Hallucinogenics are extremely potent and short term, moderate use can result in a strong addiction, that may require treatment in order to be alleviated.
When the psychoactive drugs were first introduced, people claimed they were capable of helping with various ailments. They did have positive effects in that they could be used as effective painkillers and could raise the blood pressure of individuals who had problems with those types of problems. It was well known that they were effective in various potencies for different health issues.
Problems began to be reported concerning, increased heart rate, hallucinations and other physical, mental and emotional reactions that, in some cases, were life threatening. Reports were also made concerning the susceptibility of addiction. The more potent the drug, the faster the person become dependent. The longer the person consumed the drug, the harder it was for them to stop taking it.
Treatment Options for Hallucinogenic Drugs
Treatment options for individuals who are addicted to hallucinogenic drugs cannot be designed in a “one size fits all fashion”. Because each person’s reactions to the drugs and their levels of addiction are different, no one treatment plan can be used to accommodate a multitude of patients. Treatment facilities are set up for both out-patient and in-patient programs, depending on the particular needs of each patient.
Out-patient treatment programs are designed to help a person who is mild to moderately addicted. They do not need round the clock supervision, but counseling and medical supervision are necessary to make sure any health problems they are experiencing do not become worse as the drugs begin to work their way out of the patient’s system.
In-patient programs run anywhere from a few days to several weeks. This type of extensive program is designed to provide twenty-four hour supervision for severely addicted individuals. Individuals with this level of addiction need constant supervision, especially when the drugs are beginning to leave their system. At this point, the cravings for the drug become quite intense and the patient may harm themselves if left unattended.
Treatment programs utilize diet, exercise, nutritional supplements, medical support and aggressive counseling in an attempt to provide the patient with what they need to overcome their addiction. Each person will respond differently to treatment. Some will progress slowly, while others may take weeks or months. Others will leave the program, only to fall back into the pattern of drug use once they leave the structured environment of the facility.
Counseling programs will run long after other aspects of the treatment program end. After the drugs have worn off and the individual begins to settle back into a pattern of normalcy, they may still have the desire to use. Counseling can help them deal with any unresolved issues that relate to their former addiction and substance abuse patterns.
Even though they no longer have a problem, their mental and emotional state depends on their ability to avoid pitfalls and dangers that could result in them falling back into the pattern of drug abuse. Addressing the issues through counseling can help them stay clean several years after they stop using. Some people may remain in counseling for several years. Others who have the support of family and friends may be able to leave counseling behind and remain on track without further assistance.