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Hallucinogen Addiction

Hallucinogenic drugs are drugs that distort people’s perception of reality.1 Hallucinogens include PCP, LSD (or acid), peyote, mescaline, MDMA (or ecstasy), and psilocybin (or mushrooms).1,2 When using hallucinogens, individuals may become disoriented in terms of direction, distance, and time. The drugs may lead some users to erratic, unpredictable, and violent behavior—possibly leading to serious injury or death.1 In 2019, among people aged 12 and older, 2.2% (6 million people) used hallucinogens in the past year.2

This page will provide more insight into hallucinogen drugs, their addictive nature, their effects, signs of hallucinogen abuse, how hallucinogen addiction is treated, and whether you can use your insurance plan to obtain hallucinogen addiction treatment and rehab.


Are Hallucinogens Addictive? 

Although not all hallucinogens are addictive, in some instances they are. Certain hallucinogens can be addictive, and people may develop a tolerance to them.3

Addiction is a chronic disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use in spite of harmful consequences and long-term changes in the brain.3 LSD is not considered an addictive drug because people who use the drug don’t compulsively seek it. However, it does produce tolerance. Tolerance can develop when someone has used a drug long-term and needs higher or more frequently doses to achieve the same effects they did previously.3 So, LSD can produce tolerance and use higher doses of the drug, which is extremely dangerous. LSD also produces tolerance to other hallucinogens.3

Unlike LSD, though, PCP is an addictive hallucinogen. Individuals who attempt to stop using PCP may experience withdrawal symptoms including headaches, sweating, and drug craving.2

While not all hallucinogens may be addictive, they may cause tolerance. Either way, use of the drugs can be dangerous.


Checking Your Insurance Benefits

If you are looking for hallucinogen addiction treatment, it can feel overwhelming. As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call AAC at , click here, or fill out the form below.


What is Hallucinogen Addiction? 

Hallucinogens alter thoughts, feelings, and perception, and they can cause hallucinations.3 Although not all hallucinogens are addictive, they all pose health risks. LSD produces tolerance, which is extremely dangerous because the drug is unpredictable and can increase risks of convulsions, heart and lung failure, coma, and even death.1


What are Hallucinogens? 

Hallucinogens are made up of a diverse group of drugs that change an individual’s awareness of their surroundings and their thoughts and feelings.3 They are typically broken up into 2 categories: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. Both categories may cause hallucinations, when a person experiences sensations or images that appear real but are not.3

Classic hallucinogens include the following:3

  • LSD
  • Psilocybin
  • DMT
  • Peyote (mescaline)
  • 251-NBOMe

Dissociative drugs include the following:3

  • PCP
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)
  • Ketamine
  • Salvia

Hallucinogens may be taken orally (table or liquid), snorted, injected, inhaled, or absorbed through the lining of the mouth.3 They temporarily disrupt communication between brain chemical systems in the brain and spinal cord. Some interfere with the brain chemical serotonin, which regulates sleep, hunger, sensory perception, body temperature, intestinal muscle control, and mood.3

Dissociative hallucinogenic drugs interfere with the brain chemical glutamate, which regulates emotion, learning and memory, and pain perception.3


What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogen Addiction? 

There are various hallucinogens, and they can have a range of effects on your mind, body, and behavior.

Effects of Dissociative Drugs

Short-term effects of use of dissociative drugs may include the following:3

  • Numbness
  • Disorientation and loss of coordination
  • Heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure increase
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Amnesia
  • Mood swings
  • Panic and anxiety
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Seizures

Long-term effects of dissociative drugs may include:3

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

Effects of Classic Hallucinogens

Short-term effects of classic hallucinogens may include the following:3

  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, or body temperature
  • Intensified feelings
  • Changes in sense of time
  • Sleep problems
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Excessive sweating
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

 Long-term effects of classic hallucinogens may include:3

  • Persistent Psychosis (a series of continuing mental problems that include paranoia, mood changes, disorganized thinking, visual disturbances).
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) (recurrences of specific drug experiences including hallucinations or visual disturbances.

However, these effects are rare.


What are the Health Risks of Hallucinogen Abuse? 

Physical risks connected with hallucinogen use include:1

  • Sleeplessness.
  • Mangled and incoherent speech.
  • Convulsions.
  • Decreased awareness of touch and pain which may lead to self-inflicted injuries.

Psychological risks connected with hallucinogen use may include:1

  • Depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
  • Flashbacks.
  • Confusion, suspicion, and loss of control.
  • Violent behavior.
  • A sense of estrangement.
  • Catatonic syndrome (the individual becomes lethargic, mute, disoriented).

Overdose can occur with hallucinogens, but most classic hallucinogens might produce extremely uncomfortable experiences, but the effects will not necessarily be life-threatening. However, overdose is more common with certain dissociative drugs.3 Regardless of the risk of overdose, both classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs may cause serious harm because through intense alteration of mood and perception.3


How Do I Get Help for Hallucinogen Addiction? 

While it can be difficult to overcome an addiction to hallucinogens it can be effectively managed.4,5 There is not one type of facility or program that is suitable for everyone.4 Addiction treatment should address both your substance abuse and the various ways it has negatively impacted your life, including physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally.4,5

There are various types of treatment options available to address the wide range of needs that people experience.4 Programs typically provide an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs. They often use a combination of different techniques to address your addiction and how it has affected you.3,6

These can include:3-6

  • Residential treatment, where you live at a facility, and receive care and/or support around the clock. This is a structured setting with counseling, support, and a strong emphasis on peer and social interactions.
  • Inpatient treatment typically involves a shorter stay at a facility—often around 4 weeks —with around-the-clock monitoring and care, intense group therapy, and individual counseling.
  • Outpatient treatment offers less intensive group and individual counseling while you live at home. This type of care allows you to work, attend school, and participate in daily life while learning how to adjust to stressors and receiving the support of peers and staff.
  • Behavioral therapy in a group, individual, and/or family settings is highly effective for treating addiction to hallucinogens and other substances. These techniques can help you learn how to stay sober, improve your relationships with others, cope with stress in healthy ways, and participate in positive activities.
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders, which addresses mental health disorders at the same time as a substance use disorder, is generally more effective than treating these issues separately. Therapy, medications, and other supportive services are commonly utilized in this type of treatment.

If you are seeking hallucinogen treatment in the United States, you have a wide array of options including private rehab facilities, state-run treatment facilities, and local treatment programs.

There are also support groups that can help you as you work toward becoming sober and maintaining that sobriety. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a mutual support group that offers people the opportunity to use peer bond, sponsor relationships, and self-expression to work toward sobriety. There are also non-12-step programs available that offer alternatives to NA.


Where Can I Learn More about Treating Hallucinogen Addiction?

For more information about hallucinogen abuse and addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information and support you are looking for as you look for hallucinogen abuse treatment.

There are various treatment programs and strategies available for hallucinogen addiction, so don’t give up if the first program you check out doesn’t meet your individual needs.


Sources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2004). Handout: Physical and Psychological Effects of Substance Use.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance abuse and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (HHS Publication No. PEP20-07-01-001, NSDUH Series H-55). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Hallucinogens DrugFacts.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). The National Institute on Drug Abuse media guide.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment approaches for drug addiction.

More resources about Hallucinogen Addiction: