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photo of a young person holding their head over a psychedelic background

Although hallucinogens do not have all of the properties that make drugs such as opiates physically addictive, long-term abuse can nonetheless result in hallucinogen addiction through psychological rather than physiological processes. In addition, they also have some unique dangers not possessed by other drugs such as the ability to permanently alter one’s sense of reality, even after a single use. This makes each use potentially extremely dangerous on a psychological level, and hallucinogen addiction a ticking time-bomb for an addict’s mental health.

Hallucinogen Addiction Distorts Reality

Hallucinogens produce out-of-body experiences by changing thought processes and content, and by creating visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations. They can also cause paranoia and obvious psychosis. One’s sense of reality is distorted while using hallucinogens, and some hallucinogens also produce euphoric and stimulant effects. Alarmingly, after prolonged and repetitive use of hallucinogens, or even after a single use, one’s sense of reality may be permanently affected. This condition is referred to as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, which occurs in the absence of current use of a hallucinogen and is relatively persistent. The use of hallucinogens, even casual use, is not without medical and psychiatric consequences from persistent psychosis to speech problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, chronic violent behavior, memory loss and frequent anxiety.

Flashbacks Due To Hallucinogen Addiction

Flashbacks are experiences that a user has while not actively using the substance, and can occur spontaneously or can be triggered by sights, smells, or sounds. The experience is not reality-based and is typically related to a visual or emotional hallucination that the user has had in the past while actively using a hallucinogen. Flashbacks can also cause a distortion of time. The most common substance that can lead to flashbacks is LSD, but other hallucinogens ca also produce the same effect. The exact cause of flashbacks is not known; what is known is that the experience of flashbacks can be traumatizing and can even lead to violence or self-harm, including suicide.

The Two Classes of Hallucinogens

The drugs that can cause hallucinogen addiction are commonly split into two different classes, depending on their chemical make-up and the way they interact with the user’s brain. These classes are Psychedelic and Dissociative hallucinogens. Each of these classes of drugs has both “natural” (derived from plants or fungus) and synthetic hallucinogens under their respective umbrellas. Some of the naturally-derived hallucinogens can also be synthesized in a lab, and hallucinogens are also commonly “spiked” with other hallucinogens (or other drugs such as stimulants) to enhance their potency or reduce their cost of production.

Users who claim that naturally-derived hallucinogens are inherently safer are incorrect on multiple fronts as many of these “natural” drugs actually contain one or more synthetic components. An example of this would be normal dried mushrooms laced with LSD to produce a hallucinogenic effect – but sold to the unsuspecting user as a “natural” hallucinogenic drug. As with all illegal drugs, the buyer can never be certain as to the actual composition of the drugs they are purchasing. And, whatever side of the natural/synthetic divide these drugs fall on or whatever class of hallucinogen they fall into – all of these drugs can bring about hallucinogen addiction.

Psychedelic Hallucinogens

Psychedelics, or classical hallucinogens, are drugs that primarily alter one’s thinking and perception. They all act upon serotonin receptors and wreak havoc on the central nervous system, making individuals using these substances experience thoughts, events, and sensations that are outside of reality. The drugs included in this class are tightly controlled by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Some claim they have been able to find “God” by using these illicit drugs, and others state that this class of psychoactive drugs unleash a nightmarish existence. Whatever their intentions, anyone who chooses to use this class of psychoactive drugs places themselves at risk of ongoing psychiatric problems, stiff legal penalties, and the potential for hallucinogen addiction.


Mescaline hallucinogen addiction can occur when one imbibes in the mescaline found in a certain species of peyote cactus native to Mexico and Texas. This drug has been historically used (particularly by Native Americans) to promote meditation and psychedelic therapy, as well as in various religious practices. But in the modern age, it is more typically used to just get high, have fun, and escape reality. Despite all the effects of mescaline, there are those who choose to use this potent psychoactive drug with abandon, and end up suffering from its effects. The effects of mescaline last anywhere from ten to twelve hours and include:

  • Introspection and false insight
  • Pain reduction
  • Long-term cognitive problems, including the potential for psychotic breaks
  • Psychological dependence
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations (visual, tactile, auditory) and altered perceptions, including dissociation
  • Mood changes, either elevation or depression
  • Increased heat rate and blood pressure
  • Numbness
  • Distorted vision
  • Disrupted sense of time and space
  • Poor concentration
  • Fever
  • Poor appetite
  • Pupillary dilation


(Shrooms, Mushrooms, Magic Mushrooms)

Derived from close to 200 species of mushrooms, this potent psychedelic has been associated with nausea, panic attacks, tolerance, habitual use, injury, suicide and acute psychosis. It is important to note that certain mushrooms that are toxic are sometimes mistaken for Magic Mushrooms and ingested, leading to poisoning and even death. Despite these effects, there exists a segment of the population who routinely use this drug. The effects of psilocybin, or Shrooms, some of which are sought after, are:

  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Distorted sense of space
  • Erratic and irrational behavior
  • Outbursts
  • Panic attacks
  • Unpredictable course of a trip, leading to paranoia, depression, and frank psychosis
  • Serious medical problems, such as cardiac problems, dehydration, and elevations in blood pressure and heart rate


(Lysergic acid diethylamide)

This is one of the most typical psychedelics and was originally marketed as a drug to be used during psychotherapy sessions. It is currently used for “spiritual” reasons, but mostly used for recreational purposes. Even though “typical” addiction is not common with LSD, it has been known to induce tolerance and habitual use. The effects of LSD use can last up to twelve hours and include:

  • Out-of-body experiences (dissociation)
  • Hallucinations, including visual and tactile
  • Panic attacks and irrational fears, including delusions
  • Suicidality and violence towards self and others
  • Mood swings
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Euphoria
  • Reduced control
  • Thought distortions
  • Erroneous mental clarity
  • Pupillary dilation, decreased appetite, mental stimulation
  • Inability of the body to control its temperature
  • Tremors
  • Acute psychosis
  • Suggestibility



This powerful psychedelic drug is isolated from a variety of plants. Because its actions are short-lived, it can be used for powerful, but short “trips.” DMT can be inhaled or orally consumed, but some choose to inject the drug. Either way, the effects last about three hours, during the period of drug metabolism. DMT is most commonly derived from the leaves of the Ayahuasca vine, which is found in South America. The effects of DMT can be powerful and include:

  • Contextual hallucinations and distortion of reality
  • The feeling of being able to communicate with non-human intelligent life
  • Emotional detachment
  • Altered thought patterns
  • Habituation, rather than frank addiction
  • Tolerance
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Pupillary dilation
  • Hyperthermia

Dissociative Hallucinogens

Dissociative hallucinogens are psychoactive molecules that create a sense of detachment and removal from the surrounding environment and from one’s self. These drugs work on the glutamate receptor system and increase neuronal excitation. Dissociative hallucinogens tend to create more euphoria than psychedelic hallucinogens. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that is involved in memory formation, the perception of pain, and in one’s response to his/her environment. The dissociative effect of these hallucinogens is derived from the over-excitation of this neuro-system.


(phencyclidine, Angel Dust, Hog, Wack)

This is the prototypical dissociated anesthetic and is produced illegally to be distributed and sold on the streets to those who willing to risk a dangerous psychological experiment or are stuck in the grip of hallucinogen addiction. PCP induces a trance state, euphoria, pleasurable feelings and a profound detachment from the environment and self. PCP is typically smoked with other substances, such as tobacco or marijuana laced with PCP.

PCP also exhibits a stimulant effect and can cause acute psychosis. Violent crimes have been associated with the use of PCP, as has suicide and self-injurious behavior. Some who use PCP are panic-ridden and fearful and have a complete loss of control and others have super-human strength and feel invulnerable. Acute intoxication and overdose with PCP can also lead to dehydration, cardiac and renal (kidney) problems, and violence.


This psychoactive drug can be addictive and is found in OTC (over-the-counter) cough preparations. This medication decreases the cough reflex and is an effective and safe treatment for this purpose. However, when used in high doses, it acts as a dissociative hallucinogen, creating euphoria, hallucinations and detachment. DXM can be extracted from the cough syrup as a white powder and snorted. Otherwise, ingestion of considerable amounts of cough syrup (more than 4 ounces) can create a dissociative effect. In addition to its other dangerous effects, tolerance can develop after extended use, as can hallucinogen addiction, overdose and death.


(Ketalar, K, Special K, Vitamin K)

Special K addiction is most prevalent in the club-going population. It can be euphorigenic when used in lesser amounts and can induce an extreme dissociative state when used in larger amounts. It is used in anesthesia to create a stable, awake, pain-free state, especially during childbirth by cesarean section. Ketamine can be injected or can be snorted as a powder. Sometimes ketamine is added to Ecstasy (XTC), cocaine, or other club drugs. Ketamine is relatively short and rapid acting. When ketamine is abused, the user feels disconnected, euphoric, and has distortions of perceptions of light and sound. Users of ketamine may also feel out-of-control.

Salvia divinorum

(seer’s sage, sage of the diviners, salvia)

This plant contains psychoactive substances that act as a dissociative hallucinogen. Salvia grows in Mexico and is used by shamans to create higher levels of consciousness. Even though this psychoactive plant is federally legal in the U.S., it is illegal and banned in many states and jurisdictions. A few have even been arrested for possessing this potent hallucinogen, which is believed to be the most potent naturally- occurring hallucinogen known. Symptoms of salvia use include:

  • hysterical laughter that is unable to be controlled
  • profound memories of the past
  • factitious feeling of motion
  • the feeling of blending with other objects or becoming an object
  • the perception of being in several places at one time

Break the Chains of Hallucinogen Addiction Now

If you or a loved one has developed a hallucinogen addiction, BWR can help you find a way out from this sanity-threatening disease. Call us at 800-683-4457 to get help now. Our operators are on-call 24/7 to help connect you with the professional help to get you or your loved one back on track to a healthy and productive life, free from the mind-altering influence of hallucinogen addiction.


Behavioral Wellness & Recovery is a Joint Commission accredited program. The Joint Commission recognizes excellence in health care organizations and programs.


Behavioral Wellness & Recovery is a Joint Commission accredited program. The Joint Commission recognizes excellence in health care organizations and programs.

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