Hallucinogens create a mystical and introspective experience. People who take them go through euphoria and altered states of reality. With such changes, it’s normal to wonder if the effects of hallucinogens are permanent.
If you’re thinking of using one or you’re just curious to know more about their effects, read on.
What Are Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens are drugs that can alter a person’s thoughts, feelings, and personal awareness. These are known as psychedelic drugs because they can cause you to feel, see, or hear things that are not real.
In the past, hallucinogens have been used for religious and healing purposes. At present, they are mostly used for recreational means. Some people use them to relieve stress.
Take note that there are many types of hallucinogens. There are man-made or synthetic hallucinogens and those which can be derived from plants like mushrooms.
To know if a substance can be considered a hallucinogen, it must pass the following criteria:
- The substance is observed to predominantly cause changes in a person’s mood, thoughts, and perception.
- There is a minimal impairment observed intellectually.
- Excessive stimulation and narcosis are not integral effects.
- Minimal effect is observed in the nervous system.
Hallucinogens can also be classified into two types: classic and dissociative drugs. Both types can induce sensations or images that seem to be real to the person.
Classic Hallucinogens (LSD)
Classic hallucinogens are powerful hallucinogenic drugs. They are made from lysergic acid, a clear and odorless substance. This is commonly found in a fungus that grows on grains and rye. Synthetic classic hallucinogens are available in tablet or capsule form.
Dissociative Hallucinogens (PCP)
Dissociative hallucinogens can make you feel disconnected and out of control from your body and surroundings. These are found in mushrooms growing in tropical or subtropical areas like the United States, Mexico, and South America.
Synthetic dissociative hallucinogens come in tablets, capsules, or powder form. These can be swallowed, injected, sniffed, or smoked.
List of Natural-Occurring Hallucinogens
Naturally occurring hallucinogens or natural psychoactive plants are found all over the world. Many hallucinogens are derived from plants and fungi. They grow in large portions in the regions of South America and South Africa.
- Acacia (produces DMT, a classic hallucinogen on their leaves and bark)
- Amanitas (mushrooms with a red top and white spots)
- Betel nut (a stimulant that can heighten awareness)
- Cacao (becomes hallucinogenic if taken in high doses)
- Cannabis (illegal to use; acts as a depressant, intoxicant, stimulant, and psychedelic)
- Christmas vine
- Fermented honey
- Lettuce opium (produces a seductive and analgesic effect as well as signs of euphoria)
- Mushrooms (psilocybin is the hallucinogenic chemical found in mushrooms)
- Sleepy grass
- Wild lettuce
Short-Term Effects of Hallucinogens
Short-term effects of hallucinogens, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), can happen in 20 to 90 minutes upon intake and could last for 12 hours. The length of the effect varies from person to person. Generally, it’ll depend on the amount ingested, personality, mood, and surroundings.
The general short-term effects of hallucinogens are as follows:
- Change in one’s perception of time, distance, and direction.
- Seeing, hearing, feeling, or perceiving things that actually don’t exist.
- Intense sensations (colors seem brighter, sounds seem louder)
- Synesthesia: disoriented or blurred senses (feeling sounds or hearing colors)
- Rapid or impulsive emotional shift and mood alterations (fear to happiness)
- Depersonalization (losing one’s self-identity or feeling disconnected)
- Nausea and feeling weak
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased energy and body temperature
- Sweating and panic
- Loss of appetite and dry mouth
- Numbness and tremors
- The feeling of detachment from one’s own body
- Dilated pupils
Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens
Over time, individuals who regularly take hallucinogens may need to increase the dosage of their intake to achieve their desired effect. This can lead to tolerance.
While the idea sounds scary, you can actually overcome tolerance. The trick is to stop ingesting hallucinogens for several days. You won’t experience any physical withdrawal symptoms either.
When it comes to long-term effects, there are two things you have to worry about- persistent psychosis and flashbacks or Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). It’s hard to predict when these two could happen.
The long-term effects of hallucinogens are mainly treated using antidepressants, psychotherapy, and antipsychotic drugs.
In psychotherapy, patients are guided on how to cope with their confusion and fear. Meanwhile, antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs are given to help patients improve their mood as well as treat psychoses.
Addiction can also be a long-term effect of ingesting dissociative hallucinogenic drugs. The long-term effects can persist for years or more even after stopping. The long-term effects caused by dissociative drugs are:
- Memory loss
- Mood disturbances
- Speech problems
- Disorganized thinking
- Weight loss
- Suicidal tendencies
- Acute panic attacks
The Psychosis Effects of Hallucinogens
The psychosis effect of hallucinogens stems from long-term use. Persistent psychosis is common among people who have psychological problems. However, you may still experience persistent psychosis by ingesting hallucinogens even for the first time.
It is characterized by the following:
- Disorganized thinking
- Impaired concentration
- Speech disabilities
- Visual disturbance
- Mood disturbances
- Violent behavior
Can The Use of Hallucinogens Be Life-Threatening?
Having an overdose of hallucinogens can be life-threatening due to the intense alteration of a person’s perception of reality and mood. High doses may cause coma, seizure, and even death.
Individuals who are ingesting both classic and dissociative hallucinogens can cause serious harm to themselves by:
- Jumping off a roof or window due to intense suicidal feelings.
- Accidentally poisoning themselves by ingesting hallucinogens with other drugs
Ingesting hallucinogens alters how you view and experience reality. If you continually ingest them, you’re putting yourself at risk of getting into accidents and experiencing persistent psychosis.
The long-term effects of hallucinogens don’t only alter your life but can disrupt it as well. Getting help and striving for sobriety can help reverse long-term damage. If you or a friend is experiencing some of the symptoms above, you may want to seek professional help right away.