Information on Illicit Drugs
What are Hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens also referred to as ‘psychedelics,’ are substances that can make a person see, smell, hear, taste or perceive things that are not there or are different from how they are. Some hallucinogens are natural plants, for instance, magic mushrooms while others such as LSD can be prepared in a lab.
Consequences of Using Hallucinogens
Hallucinogens interfere with your brain’s ability to store selectively immediate experiences thereby distorting the perception of reality. The central part of the brain—the cortex—gets overwhelmed with sensations. This overflow of information, storing and comparing with past feelings is the basis of the psychedelic experience.
Using hallucinogens can make you feel several relatively contrasting emotions at once or even shift sharply from one emotion to another. Again, your thoughts could jump rapidly from one idea to another or memory to memory.
Hallucinogens produce visual hallucinations and delusions, for instance, altered shapes, light, and colors, and at times, abstract objects appear. These images can include limbs bleeding or melting down of walls, or glittering effects.
Hallucinogenic-related changes in perception make you panic and feel you are losing your mind. Using psychedelics can make you experience feelings of despair, terrifying thoughts, or fear of insanity and losing control and at times, fear of death. LSD users regularly lose their sense of time.
Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogen Abuse
Heavy users tend to suffer from paranoia, depression, mood swings, blurred vision, and hallucinations. Again, psychedelics addicts tend to suffer from muscle twitches, be aggressive and at times, have a feeling of insects crawling under their skin. Psychedelics users suffer from other physiological effects such as dilated pupils, constricted blood vessels, increased body temperature and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
Other Effects of Hallucinogens
Most hallucinogens have an instant effect on the body. Sometimes they act as brain stimulants or as local aesthetics by duplicating the body’s adrenaline response to stress. When taken in small amounts, they make you experience false mental alertness particularly to your senses of touch, sound, and sight. Again, they make you feel energetic, become talkative and ecstatic. They also make you experience insomnia and loss of appetite. Long term use results in dependence and reversal in the brain’s reward system thereby causing addiction.
Long-term use of magic mushrooms, mescaline or LSD, results in anxiety, terminal liver damage, and panic attacks. Pregnant women risk miscarriage, deformities in newborns, low birth weight, the stillbirth of pregnancies, neonatal withdrawal syndrome or premature delivery. One may end up with sexual dysfunction, infertility, bowel incontinence, infection through puncture marks on the regularly injected body part and a high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS resulting from sharing needles.
Withdrawal from a hallucinogen addiction can involve depression, anxiety, irritability, paranoia and extreme fatigue. A severe craving for more of the drug develops. An irrational and repetitive patterned behavior could occur, implying that the person will repeat certain odd actions over and over again. Then, rigorous depressive conditions, agitated restlessness, and a syndrome known as toxic paranoid psychosis may set in.