Hallucinogen Dependence

Hallucinogen Dependence

Hallucinogen Dependence

Hallucinogen dependence is the dependence on hallucinogens to meet the psychological need of not being able to function properly without them. A hallucination is a perception that has qualities of real perception without an external cause. Hallucinations occur while awake and are not under voluntary control.

A hallucinogen is a psychoactive substance that can alter a person’s mood, behavior, and perception of reality, time, and space; and the hallucinations can range in severity from mild to intense. There are a variety of “natural” (e.g. the peyote plant) and synthetic (e.g. LSD) hallucinogens available. The high lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours, depending on the type of hallucinogen used.

The common classifications for hallucinogens are:

  • Psychedelics or classic – like LSD and psilocybin, usually swallowed or ingested
  • Dissociatives – like ketamine and PCP. These cause users to feel disconnected from their body or not truly present, usually swallowed or snorted. PCP can also be injected or inhaled / vaped.
  • Deliriants – like diphenhydramine. Deliriants cause delirium or an acute confusional state, and this primary effect distinguishes them from psychedelics and dissociatives, which are characterized by clearer states. Usually swallowed.

Effects of hallucinogens

Hallucinations can be associated with drug use, sleep deprivation, psychosis, neurological and psychiatric disorders, and delirium tremens — a complication of extreme amounts of alcohol intake.

Hallucinogens cause physical, mental, and behavioral effects which vary depending on the hallucinogen of choice.

Physical

  • Sensory limitations and exaggerations — sight, hearing, smelling, taste, and touch
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pain and poor bowel muscle control
  • Hunger or nausea and loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Tachycardia – rapid heart rate
  • Higher body temp and heavy sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Rested feeling
  • Jerky body movements, seizures, unable to move
  • Respiratory difficulties

Psychological

  • Hallucinations
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Speech problems
  • Reduced attention span
  • Intense mood swings that can lead to violence or suicide
  • Irritability
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Nervousness and agitation or panic
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Psychosis

Hallucinogen dependence, like other types of drug dependence, is characterized by increased usage of the drug to achieve the desired effect, continued usage, or an inability to stop using despite an awareness of the harm to the user and/or others, intense craving that causes the user to spend most of the time procuring and using the drug and recovering from the effects, and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.

Diagnosis of Hallucinogen Dependence

Hallucinogen dependence is diagnosed if its use is causing significant impairment or distress in two or more of the following ways.

  • 1. Using in larger amounts
  • 2. Cannot seem to quit or reduce the amount used
  • 3. Most free time is spent getting, using, or recovering from the hallucinogen.
  • 4. Craving
  • 5. Self-distancing from fulfilling daily responsibilities
  • 6. Continued use despite the problems it’s causing at home and at work
  • 7. Giving up social, work-related, or leisure activities in order to use
  • 8. Risky or life-endangering behavior while high
  • 9. Continued use despite the damaging consequences at home and at work because of using
  • 10. Tolerance

Hallucinogen complications:

Complications of hallucinogen dependence can happen even after only one use and include:

  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) – a lifelong disorder in which a person re-experiences the hallucinations experienced during a previous hallucinogenic “high” —either randomly or persistently
  • Synaesthesia – an intuitive experience in which stimulation of one of the senses leads to involuntary experiences in a second sense, such as “seeing” scents and “feeling” colors
  • Persistent psychosis – serious disorganization of mind, personality, mood, or behavior

Hallucinogen dependence can cause impairment in functioning at home, work, school, or social settings and can place a tremendous amount of stress and strain on interpersonal relationships.

Mixing a hallucinogen with a depressant such as alcohol has put users into a coma. While high, users might also be unable to mentally tie consequences to actions and can die from poor choices.

Lifetime hallucinogen use has been associated with personality and substance use disorders but has not been shown to be associated with other mental disorders. People who experience hallucinogen-induced psychosis are at increased risk of developing schizophrenia.

Treatment for Hallucinogen Dependence:

Treatment options available for hallucinogen dependence include:

  • Medications – such as cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Talking therapy – such as cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Community support groups – such as Narcotics Anonymous
  • Hospitalization – may be necessary if withdrawal symptoms are severe and/or the user has taken an overdose and requires life-saving treatment

Effects of hallucinogens

Hallucinations can be associated with drug use, sleep deprivation, psychosis, neurological and psychiatric disorders, and delirium tremens — a complication of extreme amounts of alcohol intake.

Hallucinogens cause physical, mental, and behavioral effects which vary depending on the hallucinogen of choice.

Physical

  • Sensory limitations and exaggerations — sight, hearing, smelling, taste, and touch
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pain and poor bowel muscle control
  • Hunger or nausea and loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Tachycardia – rapid heart rate
  • Higher body temp and heavy sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Rested feeling
  • Jerky body movements, seizures, unable to move
  • Respiratory difficulties

Psychological

  • Hallucinations
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Speech problems
  • Reduced attention span
  • Intense mood swings that can lead to violence or suicide
  • Irritability
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Nervousness and agitation or panic
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Psychosis

Hallucinogen dependence, like other types of drug dependence, is characterized by increased usage of the drug to achieve the desired effect, continued usage, or an inability to stop using despite an awareness of the harm to the user and/or others, intense craving that causes the user to spend most of the time procuring and using the drug and recovering from the effects, and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.

Diagnosis of Hallucinogen Dependence:

Hallucinogen dependence is diagnosed if its use is causing significant impairment or distress in two or more of the following ways.

  • 1. Using in larger amounts
  • 2. Cannot seem to quit or reduce the amount used
  • 3. Most free time is spent getting, using, or recovering from the hallucinogen.
  • 4. Craving
  • 5. Self-distancing from fulfilling daily responsibilities
  • 6. Continued use despite the problems it’s causing at home and at work
  • 7. Giving up social, work-related, or leisure activities in order to use
  • 8. Risky or life-endangering behavior while high
  • 9. Continued use despite the damaging consequences at home and at work because of using
  • 10. Tolerance

Hallucinogen complications:

Complications of hallucinogen dependence can happen even after only one use and include:

  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) – a lifelong disorder in which a person re-experiences the hallucinations experienced during a previous hallucinogenic “high” —either randomly or persistently
  • Synaesthesia – an intuitive experience in which stimulation of one of the senses leads to involuntary experiences in a second sense, such as “seeing” scents and “feeling” colors
  • Persistent psychosis – serious disorganization of mind, personality, mood, or behavior

Hallucinogen dependence can cause impairment in functioning at home, work, school, or social settings and can place a tremendous amount of stress and strain on interpersonal relationships.

Mixing a hallucinogen with a depressant such as alcohol has put users into a coma. While high, users might also be unable to mentally tie consequences to actions and can die from poor choices.

Lifetime hallucinogen use has been associated with personality and substance use disorders but has not been shown to be associated with other mental disorders. People who experience hallucinogen-induced psychosis are at increased risk of developing schizophrenia.

Treatment for Hallucinogen Dependence:

Treatment options available for hallucinogen dependence include:

  • Medications – such as cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Talking therapy – such as cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Community support groups – such as Narcotics Anonymous
  • Hospitalization – may be necessary if withdrawal symptoms are severe and/or the user has taken an overdose and requires life-saving treatment
Sources DRUGABUSE.gov – Hallucinogen | The American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – DSM-5