Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens, also known as psychedelic or psychoactive drugs, are a group of drugs that induce hallucinations or sensations that are perceived to be real when they are not. Common hallucinogens include D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), magic mushrooms (psilocybin), phencyclidine (PCP), ketamine (also known as Special K), and bath salts.

 

Common effects of hallucinogens

 

Drugs, such as LSD and magic mushrooms, usually induce heightened sensory experiences for the users. They may also experience hallucinations and mood changes. These drugs have a high potential for addiction and there is no evidence that there any medical benefits. When a person’s experiences become unpleasant, they are described as “bad trips”. Bad trips can happen to anyone regardless of experience.

 

It can be extremely stressful and frightening to experience a bad trip. The symptoms vary according to individual and can range from mild to intense. If unsupervised, a user may have accidents that can lead to serious injury or even death. It may be helpful to be with someone who is not taking the drug, who can provide comfort and encouragement during the bad trip. As time may come to a “standstill”, it may help to comfort the user and remind him/her/them that time will pass.  

 

Signs and symptoms of hallucinogen abuse

 

Substance abuse occurs when the user requires a greater dose of the substance in increasing frequency; this usually occurs to the point that it affects the user’s daily life and result in social isolation as well as mood and behavioural changes.

 

Signs and symptoms vary, but may include the following:

 

  • Memory loss

  • Mood changes

  • Cravings for the drug

  • Involvement in delinquency or legal issues

 

Risk factors include comorbid psychiatric conditions, simultaneous use of other substances including alcohol and tobacco, and social issues.

 

Treatment

 

Some antidepressants and antipsychotic medications may help relieve the symptoms of hallucinations and mood disturbances associated with hallucinogens. To prevent relapse, the management involves a combination of psychosocial and behavioural treatments.

For more information, please visit: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens