Renaissance Ranch

Hallucinogens: What Are the Dangers?

Aug 21, 2021

Hallucinogens change the way a person perceives reality. There are two classes of hallucinogens: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. Both types of hallucinogens can cause hallucinations (false sensations and images) that seem real to the person using the substance. Dissociative hallucinogens create a feeling of distance from reality and often cause an out-of-control feeling.

Types of Hallucinogens

Classic hallucinogens include the following four substances:

#1. LSD: LSD is an incredibly strong hallucinogen that is made from a fungus that grows on various grains. LSD is found in pill or tablet, liquid, or paper form that dissolves on the tongue. 

#2. Mushrooms: Psilocybin is found in mushrooms from various parts of South and North America and Mexico. Mushrooms are either eaten or used in teas or other drinks. 

#3. Peyote: Peyote, also known as mescaline, is derived from a cactus but can be man-made. Peyote has been used in some Native American cultures as part of their religious experiences. Peyote comes in liquid form, can be eaten, and can be made into tea. 

#4. DMT: DMT can be found in Amazonian plants but can also be made in a lab. DMT is often made into a tea called aya, hoasca, or yage. DMT can also be inhaled or smoked. 

There are other classic hallucinogens not included in this list that can be man-made or found in nature. Research shows that classic hallucinogens disrupt the chemical communication system between the brain and other parts of the nervous system, causing mood dysregulation, sensory perception difficulties, and sleep and hunger cues to be dysregulated. Classic hallucinogens also affect your body temperature and your behavior. 

Dissociative Hallucinogens 

Dissociative hallucinogens include the following:

#1. PCP: PCP was originally developed in the 1950s as a new medication to assist in anesthesia for surgeries; it was discontinued because of the side effects associated with PCP’s use. PCP can be used as a pill or tablet. PCP can also be inhaled or smoked and snorted or injected.

#2. Ketamine: Ketamine is a synthetic substance that is used in powders and pills; ketamine is sometimes snorted, and sometimes, ketamine is used as a date-rape drug. 

#3. Salvia: Salvia is found in plants native to South America and is chewed or used by extracting the juices from the leaves. Salvia might also be dried and subsequently smoked or the vapors inhaled.

Dissociative hallucinogens interfere with brain chemistry and create significant changes in your pain perception and emotion. Dissociative hallucinogens also impair your learning and memory and your ability to respond appropriately to your environment. They can cause physical and emotional dysregulation, as well as seizures and psychosis. The previously listed side-effects can occur in the short term and persist into long-term physical and emotional problems. 

Long-Term Side Effects

Hallucinogens have many short-term side-effects that cause extreme behavioral and perceptual responses to stimuli in your environment. While the dissociative qualities and ability to escape pain are frequently the intended effects of using these substances, thinking about the dangerous long-term effects rarely occurs without intervention.

With classic hallucinogens, the long-term effects can include persistent psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, or HPPD. While these diagnoses are more often seen in persons with mental health disorders, having these long-term effects can occur in anyone even after just one use. 

With dissociative hallucinogens, the long-term effects can include weight loss, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, as well as speech and memory problems. With both types of hallucinogens, addiction can occur.

Addiction to Hallucinogens

There are some instances in which hallucinogens can be addictive. The alteration in perception and escape from pain causes some people to continue seeking hallucinogens and develop a tolerance. PCP has been shown in many instances to be addictive; discontinuation of the substance causes one to experience withdrawal symptoms and to want more of the substance, driving drug-seeking behaviors. 

While the incidence of hallucinogen-based addiction is not fully known or understood, tolerance has been shown to occur frequently. Tolerance for these substances can cause overdose and death in some situations. Death is not experienced with all hallucinogen overdoses but frequently occurs when one uses other medications with the hallucinogens. Benzodiazepines, when mixed with hallucinogens, often lead to coma or death.

While the incidence of overdose and addiction is not known, research has shown dangerous side effects associated with continued use. The changes in perception, learning, memory, and mood can have a life-altering impact on the person using these substances. Given this information, treatment to overcome wanting to use these medications is necessary, especially since many people who use these substances turn to them as a means of escaping their own reality.

Hallucinogens are dangerous substances that create an altered perception of one’s environment. You might have turned to hallucinogenic substances to escape your life and current experiences. However, these substances are harmful and might require treatment to overcome their tolerance and abuse potential. At Renaissance Ranch, we understand that life is not easy and that it is easier to escape your circumstances through substances rather than face the pain head-on. With our clinically established treatment, we feel confident that you can overcome the suffering you have experienced and move on to a fulfilling life. At Renaissance Ranch, we use a gospel-centered approach to ensure you know your value to the world. We believe in your ability to heal from and overcome any problem, and we want you to believe in your potential. You no longer have to suffer or seek out ways to avoid your suffering. Reach out today at (801) 308-8898 and begin the healing process.