Hallucinogens are a kind of drug that produces hallucinations in users. In other words, they make users sense things that are not actually there.
A number of illegal drugs induce hallucinations, such as DMT, magic mushrooms, LSD, and molly. These are different classifications of drugs in themselves, but because of their effects, they are also under the group of hallucinogens.
There are lots of other interesting facts about hallucinogens. Here are some of them.
1. There are such things as naturally-occurring hallucinogens
Magic mushrooms, or shrooms as some people call them, are one example of a natural hallucinogen. Many native tribes and early civilizations have been using them for certain rituals. Shrooms can either be eaten by themselves or made into tea.
Another is ayahuasca, which is used by Amazonian tribes for their traditional ceremonies. It is a brew made from the seeds, stems, leaves, or bark of various plants. Ayahuasca is said to have healing capabilities; because of that, Westerners have begun adopting it.
Next up is an herb called Salvia divinorum, which belongs to the mint family. Most of it can be found in a region of Mexico called Sierra Mazateca. Salvia contains the most potent naturally-occurring psychedelic compound named Salvinorin A.
Hallucinogens can even be found in some cactuses. One such cactus-derived substance is called mescaline, used mainly by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States for their religious ceremonies.
2. Other hallucinogens like LSD are artificial
LSD is the most widely known psychedelic drug in the world. It’s a compound derived from the rye fungus, which is the same kind of organism as shrooms.
LSD’s hallucinogenic effects were accidentally discovered by the Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann in 1938. Twenty-two years later, LSD was popularized with the rise of the culture of psychedelia. Other hallucinogenic drugs also became mainstream at this time, such as MDMA and PCP.
These drugs are still in use today and are still popular for their psychedelic effects.
3. Hallucinogens can affect any of the five senses
Hallucinations can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted. Here are the five kinds of hallucinations that these drugs can produce:
- Visual hallucinations: Users would see colors, shapes, objects, or people that are not really present.
- Auditory hallucinations: Users would hear sounds coming from either inside or outside their heads. Some would even hear voices that tell them to do certain things.
- Tactile hallucinations: “Tactile” means it’s related to the sense of touch. With that, users with this type of hallucination would feel various sensations on their skin, like tickling, crawling, or heat.
- Olfactory hallucinations: This is an uncommon type of hallucination where users would smell things that are not really there.
- Taste hallucinations: This is the rarest form of hallucination where the user would taste something that is not really there.
4. Hallucinogens can mess up a user’s mood
These drugs are known to affect the nerve cells that rely on serotonin, which is a brain chemical that regulates mood. Normal levels of serotonin in the brain leads to a happy, stable emotional state. However, abnormal levels of serotonin could lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Additionally, these drugs target a critical part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. This is the region that controls higher-order thinking skills and perception. In other words, users may lose the ability to think clearly. In fact, disorganized thoughts are a hallmark of hallucinogen use.
5. Hallucinogen intake may cause psychosis
Although not a common effect, some users may find themselves developing signs of psychosis, which is a mental disorder that makes a person go out of touch with reality. Their thoughts and emotions would be badly impaired; consequently, they may lose concern for the people around them.
6. The long-term effects of these drugs are unknown
Hallucinogens are addictive, and because almost nothing is known about its long-term side effects, the drugs are highly dangerous. What is widely known, though, is that users can develop tolerance when taking the drugs. This means that users have to take progressively higher doses of the drugs to achieve the desired effects. Pretty soon, repeated intake could lead to overdose.
7. Users may experience persistent hallucinations
If users continue to abuse hallucinogens, they may develop a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). Here, they would see flashbacks of previous hallucinations even after a long time. This could also be accompanied by loss of memory, poor muscle control, and depression. HPPD would also cause permanent changes in how their senses perceive things.
8. Withdrawal symptoms vary, which includes being in a zombie-like state
When users attempt to quit taking the drugs, one of the symptoms of withdrawal is that they would feel as if they are a walking zombie. Also, they may have a fear of going insane. Aside from these, there are other possible withdrawal symptoms:
- Uncoordinated movements
- Violent, aggressive, or hostile behavior towards other people
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle spasms
- Greatly elevated body temperature
- Permanent disturbance of sensory perception
9. Hallucinogen addiction can be treated
Although there are no available medicines to treat hallucinogen addiction, it is treatable through behavioral therapy. Hallucinogen rehab involves getting the user’s behavior and perceptions back to normal. As hallucinations may persist for a long while, the therapy would focus on reorienting the user’s senses back to reality.
Psychosis is another issue that must be addressed. Even after drug use has stopped, a recovering user may still experience signs of psychosis from time to time. This must be dealt with immediately; otherwise, it may lead to frequent aggressive behavior and suicidal tendencies.
As with any case of recovery, a strong support network is crucial to the success of hallucinogen rehab. If the patients’ family and friends believe in their potential to get their life back together again, the road to recovery would be a smooth one. The journey may be long, but patients would feel confident knowing that their family and friends have their back.