Hallucinogens
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Hallucinogen is a broad term for a group of drugs, generally divided into two categories: Classic hallucinogens like LSD and dissociative drugs like PCP and ketamine. Though their types may vary, these drugs can cause hallucinations and alter a person’s perception, thoughts and feelings. Hallucinogens may come from natural sources, such as plants or mushrooms, or can be produced in illicit laboratories.

Following are the different types of hallucinogen drugs:

  • Dextromethorphan/DMX (an ingredient sometimes found in cough syrups)
  • LSD
  • Ketamine
  • PCP
  • Salvia

Often taken recreationally, users may consume the drug in the form of tea, take pills containing them, smoke them, snort them as a powder, or inject them into veins. These drugs are usually consumed for their euphoria-causing properties and distortion of sensory perceptions, often called “trips.” Their effects are not always positive but can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours. Some people also report to experience panic and paranoia that they cannot escape from. These are usually called “bad trips.”

Some of the common street names of hallucinogens include “blotter acid,” “mushrooms,” “XTC,” “special K” and “acid.” Like with many drugs, there use involves the risk of development of an addiction when abused or used for a long period. In 2016, an estimated 1.4 million people in the U.S. (aged 12 or above) with an estimated 114,000 adolescents (aged 12 to 17) were current users of hallucinogens.

Hallucinogen abuse

Classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), hallucinogens have a high potential for abuse and no known medical use, and can lead to sensory, physiological and psychological problems.

Following are some of the signs and symptoms of hallucinogen abuse:

  • Increased blood pressure, breathing rate or body temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleep problems
  • Mixed senses (such as “seeing” sounds or “hearing” colors)
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Excessive sweating
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

While much research on the long-term health effects of hallucinogen use has not been done so far, the fact remains that their side effects are dangerous. For example, long-term ketamine use can lead to bladder or kidney problems; ingesting a dangerous mushroom can poison the user and kill him/her; and high doses of PCP can lead to coma or seizures.

Mixing hallucinogens with other drugs, such as alcohol or depressants can make someone go into a coma. For hallucinogen users, accidental fatal injuries are common and people who have out-of-body experiences can hurt themselves without realizing it.

Most long-term hallucinogens users have memory problems. Additionally, they may also experience one or more of the following long-term effects:

  • Speech problems
  • Memory loss
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts

Even if a person stops taking these drugs, they can still experience symptoms, such as visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia, mood changes and flashbacks. Some people may develop the hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD), where they can experience hallucinations at random.

As with any drug, it is possible to develop an addiction to hallucinogens. Some hallucinogens are less addictive than others are but people can build a tolerance to them. This can be dangerous as it leaves the user craving for a higher quantity of the drug to feel the same effects, thereby, increasing the chance of an overdose.

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Treatment for hallucinogen abuse

With so many different types of hallucinogens, treatments should be based on what the individual needs. Treatment options for hallucinogens which are normally a part of any treatment program include hallucinogen detox treatment and/or behavioral therapy.

The first step in treating addiction treatment is detoxification treatment, which allows the patient to get rid of the toxic substances and gradually reduce drug dependence. During the detox program, patients may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can be easily managed by taking medication under the supervision of a medical professional.

Though abusing hallucinogens does not cause physical dependence, the prolonged use can still produce physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Trouble experiencing pleasure
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Once detox is complete, the patients then attend therapy or counseling sessions. Therapy helps in understanding the nature of addiction, addressing the environmental factors that contributed to the pattern of abuse, knowing ways to fight the side effects as well as learning the necessary life-skills to embark on the long road to recovery. Continuous aftercare is also recommended after initial treatment, such as attending 12-step programs, through which one can stay motivated and hopeful about recovery.

It is very important that any treatment for hallucinogen addiction also includes treatment for any co-occurring disorders. Also known as dual diagnosis treatment, during this phase, the patient is treated for one or more illnesses, such as hallucinogen addiction and depression, in one go. When left untreated, a co-occurring illness can negatively affect a person’s recovery and lead to a relapse.

Why choose Sovereign Health

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to hallucinogens, help is available. At Sovereign Health of Texas, individuals can find treatment for addiction and dual diagnosis, as well as medical detox services. Sovereign Health of El Paso, Texas offers comprehensive treatment programs for adult men and women (aged 18 or above) with addiction-related, behavioral health and co-occurring disorders. Our patients undergo a thorough physical and mental evaluation at the time of admission. This helps in diagnosing their issues accurately as well as charting the course of the finest personalized treatment plan best-suited as per their needs.

Basis the frequency, duration and severity of symptoms, treatment for hallucinogen addiction may involve medically-assisted detox and intensive psychotherapies. In addition to offering evidence-based treatment, we offer our patients individually tailored treatment services like dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, individual, group, and family therapy; neurofeedback, and experiential therapies, such as art therapy and expressive arts therapy. We also offer continuing care programs to provide supportive care that help the patients enjoy a lasting recovery.

To find out more about our top-notch addiction treatment programs or to locate the best hallucinogen detox centers near you, contact our 24/7 helpline and speak with our admissions team. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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“The therapy here helped me really look at myself and find that I am a strong individual that can deal with this and move forward in my life.”- Katie