Hallucinogens Addiction and Treatment

What Are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens are drugs that cause hallucinations – profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Some hallucinogens also produce rapid, intense emotional swings.

Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. Distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord, the serotonin system is involved in the control of behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory systems, including mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, muscle control, and sensory perception.

LSD (an abbreviation of the German words for “lysergic acid diethylamide”) is the drug most commonly identified with the term “hallucinogen” and the most widely used in this class of drugs. It is considered the typical hallucinogen, and the characteristics of its action and effects described below apply to the other hallucinogens, including mescaline, psilocybin, and ibogaine.

Why Do People Take Hallucinogens?

 

hallucinogensHallucinogenic drugs have played a role in human life for thousands of years. Cultures from the tropics to the arctic have used plants to induce states of detachment from reality and to precipitate “visions” thought to provide mystical insight. These plants contain chemical compounds, such as mescaline, psilocybin, and ibogaine, that are structurally similar to serotonin, and they produce their effects by disrupting normal functioning of the serotonin system.

Historically, hallucinogenic plants were used largely for social and religious ritual, and their availability was limited by the climate and soil conditions they require. Mescaline comes from a cactus called peyote. And certain mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, are hallucinogens.

After the development of LSD, a synthetic compound that can be manufactured anywhere, abuse of hallucinogens became more widespread, and from the 1960s it increased dramatically. All LSD manufactured in this country is intended for illegal use, since LSD has no accepted medical use in the United States.

 

Extent Of Use

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

NSDUH data show decreases in annual use of LSD from 2002 to 2004. In 2004, 9.7% of Americans aged 12 and older reported using LSD at least once in their lifetimes, 0.2% had used it in the past year, and 0.1% used in the past month. Lifetime use declined significantly from 2003 to 2004 among persons aged 12 to 17 and 18 to 25.

Lifetime use dropped significantly among 12th-graders from 2004 to 2005, while annual and 30-day use remained stable. Perceived availability of the drug fell among 12th-graders for this same period. “Lifetime” refers to use at least once during a respondent’s lifetime. “Annual” refers to use at least once during the year preceding an individual’s response to the survey. “30-day” refers to use at least once during the 30 days preceding an individual’s response to the survey.

Monitoring the Future Study

Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs for
8th-Graders, 10th-Graders, and 12th-Graders
 

2002-2005

8th-Graders % 10th-Graders % 12th-Graders %
’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05
Hallucinogens
lifetime
annual
30-day
4.1
2.6
1.2
4.0
2.6
1.2
3.5
2.2
1.0
3.8
2.4
1.1
7.8
4.7
1.6
6.9
4.1
1.5
6.4
4.1
1.6
5.8
4.0
1.5
12.0
6.6
2.3
10.6
5.9
1.8
9.7
6.2
1.9
8.8
5.5
1.9
LSD
lifetime
annual
30-day
2.5
1.5
0.7
2.1
1.3
0.6
1.8
1.1
0.5
1.9
1.2
0.5
5.0
2.6
0.7
3.5
1.7
0.6
2.8
1.6
0.6
2.5
1.5
0.6
8.4
3.5
0.7
5.9
1.9
0.6
4.6
2.2
0.7
3.5
1.8
0.7