“Tripping” on hallucinogens can affect behavior. Misusing dissociative hallucinogenic drugs can cause extreme and risky behavior, psychosis, and seizures.
Withdrawal symptoms such as cravings for the drug can occur when stopping use of some hallucinogens.
Recovery from hallucinogen misuse or dependency is possible with the help of a licensed medical provider. Treatment options include behavioral therapy and group therapy.
Hallucinogens are mind-altering drugs. Some common examples include LSD, psychedelic mushrooms, ketamine, and PCP.
You or a loved one may use hallucinogens to intensify sensory experiences and promote relaxation. But they can also lead to dangerous hallucinations that can cause you to see, hear, or feel that something is real when it is not. They can distort your understanding of risk. And the “dissociative” category of these drugs may cause you to feel detached from your surroundings and even your body.
Hallucinogens can be dangerous if not used as prescribed by a doctor for therapeutic treatment under controlled conditions. You or a loved one can become dependent and even overdose on certain hallucinogens.
However, recovery from hallucinogen misuse is possible.
Hallucinogens are a group of naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals. The following are examples of natural hallucinogens:
The following are synthetic hallucinogens, which include both classical (e.g., LSD) and dissociative varieties (e.g., PCP):
Hallucinogens such as DMT, LSD, and peyote can cause lingering mental health issues, accidental harm, or poisoning from contaminants. People who use hallucinogens repeatedly can develop a tolerance so that they have to take higher or more frequent doses to feel the same effect.
Repeated use of hallucinogens such as DXM, ketamine, and PCP can cause withdrawal symptoms such as cravings for the drug and can lead to dependency. Taking 251-NBOMe is particularly dangerous, as it comes with a higher risk of seizures, comas, and death.
Hallucinogen misuse can also cause:
If you think you’re in danger from using a hallucinogen, call 911.
Symptoms of withdrawal from hallucinogens that cause dependency (e.g., PCP) include cravings, headaches, and sweating.
Negative effects of hallucinogens on the brain: Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that regulates hunger, intestinal muscles, mood, perception of sensory input, sexual behaviors, sleep, and temperature. Hallucinogens temporarily interfere with serotonin’s ability to perform these regulatory functions. Dissociative hallucinogens also affect the functioning of glutamate in the brain, altering your emotions, learning ability, memories, perceptions of pain, and responses to your environment. With repeated use of certain hallucinogens, your brain may depend on the hallucinogens to function normally because your neurons have adapted to prolonged exposure to these chemicals.
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Recovery from hallucinogen misuse is possible. To safely stop misuse of hallucinogens, you or your loved one can seek out a licensed medical professional who can help develop a treatment plan.
Therapy: There are several therapy options to treat hallucinogen misuse. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people avoid relapse after stopping hallucinogen use. Medical providers may also suggest group therapy, 12-step and other support groups, or out- and inpatient residential treatment programs.
Medication: There is not yet an approved medicine to treat dependency on hallucinogens.
Recovery: Other ways to promote your recovery could involve complementary and alternative activities such as acupuncture, meditation, spiritual exercises, yoga, and therapies involving art or music. Some communities also offer support services, including career counseling and legal support.