Hallucinogens Severe on the Mind, Emotions, Perceptions Time to Quit!
The drug category “hallucinogens” is comprised of a number of substances whose use results in psychoactive effects that impact the user’s thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and overall consciousness. The umbrella term “hallucinogen” can be further divided into the following three categories:
- Psychedelics — Examples include LSD, Psilocybin (a.k.a. “magic mushrooms”), PCP, and peyote
- Dissociatives — Examples include Ketamine and nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
- Deliriants — Examples include Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
Most hallucinogens are classified as either Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances by the U.S. government.
Schedule I drugs are those that have been determined to meet the following three criteria:
- High potential for abuse
- No currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
- Lack of accepted safety for use of the substance under medical supervision
Schedule II substances are described by the U.S. Department of Justice in the following terms:
- High potential for abuse
- Currently accepted for medical use in treatment in the United States
- May lead to severe psychological or physical dependence
Perhaps the most widely known hallucinogen is LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), a synthetic psychedelic that was first produced in the late 1930s, and which was popularized during the 1960s. But LSD is not the only hallucinogen, nor is it the only drug with hallucinogenic properties to be regularly abused.
Hallucinogens are primarily abused for their ability to alter the user’s perceptions or consciousness.
The 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed the following about the abuse of hallucinogens in the United States:
- About 36 million Americans aged 12 or older (or 14.4 percent of that demographic group) have tried a hallucinogen at least once in their lifetimes
- About 3.7 million (1.5% of the population) reported having used hallucinogens in the 12 month prior to completing the survey.
- About 1.1 million (0.4 percent) reported hallucinogen use in the previous 30 days
Hallucinogen abuse can lead to significant health problems. According to data collected by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) in 2006, LSD was involved in 4,002 visits to emergency rooms. PCP was involved in 21,960 visits, and miscellaneous hallucinogens were a factor in 3,898 visits.
Hallucinogens do not produce the physical dependence that drugs such as alcohol and heroin do. But the ability of hallucinogens to impair a user’s cognitive abilities, and to lead to a desire for continued use, means that ending one’s hallucinogen abuse isn’t simply a matter of deciding to quit.
When trying to quit using hallucinogens or dissociative drug, users may experience symptoms such as memory loss and depression, which may last for as long as a year after stopping use of the drug.
With the risk of long-term cognitive impairments, psychosis, and paranoia, hallucinogen abuse can make it difficult for users to make wise decisions regarding their drug use.
Treatment for hallucinogen abuse or addiction may include outpatient therapy, participation in a 12-Step support group, partial hospitalization, or residential treatment.
Treatment for hallucinogen abuse or addiction may include the following therapies and techniques:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- 12-Step education
- Relapse-prevention instruction
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Biofeedback & Neurofeedback
- Medication management
- Anger management
- Recreation therapy