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Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that can alter thoughts and moods while distorting a person’s perception of reality. Also referred to as psychedelics, these drugs can cause hallucinations and euphoria. However, the use of hallucinogens is not new as they have been used since more than 100 years for religious and recreational purposes.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) survey, around 143,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 were current users of hallucinogens which is about 0.6 percent of the adolescent population in the country.

Types of hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are naturally found in specific mushrooms and plants, but can also be man-made in the form of synthetic chemicals. Some of the commonly used hallucinogens are:

  • LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide): LSD has more than 80 recreational names, the most popular of which is acid. It is created from lysergic acid found in a fungus which grows on rye and grains. It produces a variety of psychological effects like delusions, altered thoughts and feelings, paranoia, flashbacks, and overwhelming feelings. These feelings are known as a “trip,” which might include multiple sensations and images. These may not be happening in reality, but for the individual experiencing these, they may feel real.
  • PCP (Phencyclidine): PCP was introduced in the 1950s when it was used as an anesthetic, however, in the 60s and 70s it got popularized as a drug for recreational use. PCP can cause a strong feeling of euphoria and can encourage the user to dissociate from their surroundings. This is a Schedule II drug and is known by several names like angel dust, hog, amoeba, belladonna, and zoom. This synthetic drug that can be injected, snorted, smoked, ingested, or sprinkled on other drugs, like LSD, mescaline, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. The drug is known for its difficult withdrawal symptoms like development of irritability, delusions, and anxiety.
  • MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine): Commonly known as ecstasy, molly, or XTC, MDMA is derived from methamphetamine. It is commonly used to increase euphoria in clubs or parties frequented by high school and college students. It is a synthetic drug which has hallucinogenic and stimulant properties. Initially, the drug was used for managing various psychological disorders, however, presently, it is not used for any medicinal purposes. It is popular amongst the younger generation because it is perceived that alongside hallucinations and euphoria, it also increases the feelings of empathy and sociability. It is mostly available in the form of capsules and tablets.
  • Psilocybin (Mushrooms): Psilocybin mushrooms, shrooms, or magic mushrooms have been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. These are hallucinogenic substances containing psilocybin. People use them to induce a state of visual and auditory delusion, and the effects of mushroom can last around 6 to 8 hours.
  • Mescaline (Peyote): It is a spineless cactus found in the south-west of the U.S. and Mexico. These cacti are used for their hallucinogenic abilities. The main psychedelic ingredient can be derived from the plant and synthetically manufactured in a laboratory. It can also be used in a liquid form, as a pill, and can be ingested or smoked. It is used for ritualistic and recreational purposes in many native religious communities. It is said that the drug offers many introspective and mystical effects. Some of the other names for mescaline are mesc, buttons, cactus, and peyote. Use of the drug can cause periods of serious emotional turmoil and confusion. It can also induce sever vomiting and nausea.

Signs and effects of hallucinogens abuse

Effects of hallucinogens are surprisingly uniform even though they belong to a dissimilar group of drugs. Hallucinogen abuse can lead to dangerous physical and psychological effects. According to studies, the effects of hallucinogens can last from 6 to 12 hours depending on the quantity of dosage. Some of the common effects are:

  • Altered visual and auditory perception
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Distorted thinking
  • Delusions
  • Euphoria
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperthermia
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impairment in physical coordination
  • Mood swings
  • Increased heart rate
  • Enhanced emotion
  • Severe psychosis

While hallucinogens generally have a low level of toxicity, people can have “bad trips,” in which they might commit suicide or suffer other fatal misadventures. Users also tend to resort to violence and suicide due to their detachment from reality. Although it is rare, death due to hallucinogens overdose can occur as a result of heart attack and depressed breathing.

Treatment for hallucinogen addiction

While some drugs like PCP can be addictive, others like LSD result into the body developing a drug tolerance. This means the users need a higher dose to achieve the same effects. Self-withdrawal can lead to several painful symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and strong cravings. Some of the withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Strong cravings
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue

A comprehensive hallucinogen detox treatment involves not just the use of essential medications to taper the use of the drug, but also intense behavioral therapies and round the clock care. A medically supervised detox program helps in flushing out the toxins from the body and behavioral treatment therapies to help patient recover and learn coping skills to live without drugs.

Hallucinogens and teens

Teenage is a time filled with parties and get-togethers and in order to look cool and be popular, enhance the experience of a party or just for the fun of it, teens often consume hallucinogens. Early 2000s saw the highest use of LSD by young adults when nearly 1 out of every 12 high school students used these. According to studies, nearly 55 percent of teens attributed their use of hallucinogens to peer pressure.

Hallucinogens act by affecting a teen’s sensory analysis and perceptions. Effects include visual hallucinations, time distortion, delusions, and mood swings depending upon the users’ mood. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), hallucinogens take somewhere between 20 to 90 minutes to achieve a high, which lasts for as long as 12 hours. However, sometimes the use of hallucinogens can take a terrifying turn leading to nightmares and severe paranoia.

Treatment at Adoena Healthcare

Addiction is a menace and can affect anybody regardless of their age, gender, and social standing. However, for teens, addiction is a dangerous thing as their brains are still developing. It alters their brains, physically changing the way they think, perceive, and function. Fortunately, an addiction is treatable if help is sought from a credible addiction treatment center.

Adeona Healthcare, a rehab center for adolescents and teens aged between 12 to17, provides comprehensive treatment programs for teen alcohol or drug addiction, mental illness, and co-occurring disorders. We understand that in addition to requiring specialized care, teens need a customized program that can help them achieve their treatment goals, without overwhelming them. Therefore, we as front runners in the field of addiction treatment, offer the best chance to your teen for a successful recovery.

For more information about our addiction treatment programs, call our 24/7 helpline 888-379-9360 and speak to a member from our admissions team. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.

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