Hallucinogens are drugs that can cause you to have out-of-body experiences, also known as “trips”. There is no one size fits all when it comes to taking a hallucinogenic as the effects differ depending on the individual and the type of hallucinogenic taken. Unlike other drugs such as opiates and stimulants, hallucinogens don’t contain addictive properties, however, you can become addicted to the experience of taking hallucinogens. Once addiction occurs it can be incredibly difficult for the user to stop without help. You must speak in confidence to a trained addiction specialist who can assess the situation and make the appropriate treatment recommendations.
What Are Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens are drugs that can cause hallucinations when taken. When ingested, hallucinogens can alter your perception of reality, cause significant changes in thoughts, emotions, and psychological experiences that differ radically from everyday life. A hallucinogen is defined by its effect upon the user, rather than solely its form or chemical structure. There are a variety of different types of drugs that may cause hallucinations including both natural and synthetic substances. True hallucinogens are typically placed into one of three categories: psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants.
Psychedelics are a class of drugs whose main effect is to initiate psychedelic experiences, meaning a temporarily altered state of consciousness. Drugs classified as psychedelics include:
- Psilocybin, magic mushrooms
Dissociatives typically give you the perceived feeling of being detached or, as its name suggests, dissociated. You may feel completely detached from your environment or potentially from your own body. This classification of drugs includes some of the following:
- Nitrous oxide
Typically, deliriants are drugs that produce feelings of confusion and loss of control. Deliriant drugs are typically found in certain plant species such as the nightshade family, Jimson weed and Angel’s trumpet, among others. Deliriants can also be found in nutmeg and some over-the-counter antihistamines.
What is a Hallucination?
In short, the term hallucinations involve an individual experiencing something that is not real. This can be in the form of a sound, visual, sensation, smell, and even taste. The most common type of hallucination is auditory and typically involves a person hearing voices or sounds that have no physical source.
Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogen Abuse
It’s difficult to identify an explicit list of symptoms that would indicate abuse of a specific hallucinogen as each individual’s response to the drug differs. However, there are general symptoms you can look out for that might indicate someone is abusing hallucinogens.
Some of these symptoms may have resulted from something non-hallucinogen related. With that in mind, signs to look out for include:
- Dilated pupils
- Incoherent or nonsensical speech
- Compulsive laughter
- Reduced sensitivity, including pain
- Inability to focus
- Lack of spatial awareness
- Volatile mood
- A fascination with mundane items
- Loss of motor control
- Hallucinations, auditory or visual
- A look of being vacant, dissociated
Dangers for First Time Hallucinogen Users
If you have never taken hallucinogens before, you may be incredibly ill-prepared for the significant hallucinations and changes in perception that can result from their consumption. After taking a hallucinogen the effects are frequently described as being ‘not from our reality’ or ‘out of this world’, it is unlike a person’s normal experience of the real world. This can sometimes result in you becoming significantly distressed, anxious and may even begin to panic. Numerous individuals have died as a result of an accident or poor judgement after taking hallucinogens for the first time.
Long-Term Side-Effects of Hallucinogen Abuse
The long-term effects of using hallucinogens can be detrimental. A variety of factors can influence the effects of the drug, such as your overall health and duration of use. Hallucinogens can lead to significant mental and psychological impairment and, on occasion, cause permanent mental disorders that may require hospitalisation. Accidental injury as a result of hallucinogen use and abuse can also have permanent ramifications. A chronic ketamine user, for example, may experience bladder problems where the urinary tract is damaged.
As with any addiction, it can be incredibly difficult to overcome an addiction to hallucinogens. Addiction is a powerful illness that not only affects you but those around you. Whilst hallucinogens are not necessarily considered to be ‘addictive’, a substance does not have to have this label for a person to develop an addiction to consuming it. A regular user may become functionally addicted to the act of taking the drug itself and the very experience related to this act.
How is Hallucinogen Addiction Treated?
Addiction treatment is available on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Your decision will ultimately be based upon your individual needs and circumstances. While residential rehab is considered to be the most effective form of treatment for hallucinogen addiction, clinics like CATCH Recovery offer exceptional outpatient addiction treatment.
A medically supervised detox is recommended where certain substances are concerned. Detox should then be followed by and is then followed by an intensive course of therapy.
While detox is an important part of overcoming physical dependency, treating the psychological aspects of addiction will provide you with the tools you need to maintain long-term sobriety. Psychological dependence is the term used to describe the emotional and mental components of substance use disorder. This is usually characterised by strong cravings for a particular substance or behaviour and the inability to function without it.
CATCH Recovery uses evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), grief and trauma therapy, one-to-one counselling sessions, group therapy and online therapy. We also teach relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation which can help with managing stressful situations, in addition to withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia.
Whether it’s residential rehab or intensive outpatient therapy, finishing a programme can also feel daunting. You may feel overwhelmed without the structure and safety you’ve become accustomed to. With this in mind, we have created an exceptional aftercare programme designed to prevent relapse and help you deal with the stressors of everyday life.
Treatment for Hallucinogen addiction at CATCH Recovery
If your use of hallucinogens has become a cause for concern or you believe someone you love may be abusing hallucinogens, get in touch with CATCH Recovery to find out which treatments are available to you.
Our South West London clinic offers an addiction assessment as well as inpatient and outpatient therapy options and a bespoke aftercare service once you complete treatment.
If you’re struggling but don’t live in the South of England, you may find our Telehealth services more ideal. Telehealth allows our clients to receive help and support for alcohol or drug addiction remotely on platforms such as Zoom, Skype or Teams.
Alternatively, we also provide referrals to rehabs in other areas in the UK and Ireland as well as clinics in Sweden and The Netherlands.