Everything you need to know about psychedelics dependence and treatment options from Northlake.
Psychedelics are a class of hallucinogenic drugs whose primary effect is to trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness (known as psychedelic experiences or “trips”) via serotonin 2A receptor agonism. This causes specific psychological, visual and auditory changes, and often a substantially altered state of consciousness.
Because psychedelic drugs are considered to be less addictive in general than stimulants and opioids, less likely to be abused in the long term, and less likely to cause intense physical side effects or overdose, they are often thought of as less harmful than other drugs. This is far from the truth; as psychedelic drugs are also dangerous in many of the same ways that other commonly abused substances are. For someone who is constantly abusing these drugs, there is always a chance for dangerous side effects, and certain hallucinogens (like PCP and MDMA) can cause overdose and death the first time they are abused.
Psychedelic Drug Abuse
Psychedelic drug abuse is not the same as addiction. People who are addicted will experience withdrawal symptoms, cravings and other side effects when they attempt to quit using drugs. Those who abuse psychedelic drugs are not typically jeopardized with withdrawal or serious cravings, they don’t typically become physically or psychologically dependent on the drug and they can usually quit on their own. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, although these drugs are generally considered non-addictive, they are not generally considered safe for use. This is because people who abuse psychedelic drugs are at an increased risk of accident, injury, misinterpreted thoughts, psychotic behaviors or other serious dangers.
Taking these drugs may lead to what is known as a “bad trip.” This occurs when the user becomes overwhelmed with the thoughts, feelings or interpretation of the external environment to a point in which he or she suffers from serious anxiety and a strong inability to cope with the emotions that they are having. This can go on for hours and may lead to irrational or erratic behaviors such as acting out, hurting one’s self or attempting to commit suicide.
Most of the time, the reason why people who are under the influence of psychedelic drugs find themselves in a hospital or otherwise in a bad state is due to the extreme anxiety and paranoia that can arise when the user experiences a bad trip. These feelings, emotions and the general overwhelming that comes when the user has had a bad trip will generally go away when the drug wears off but in some rare cases such a psychotic state can continue for many weeks or months following the use of the drug.
Effects of Psychedelic Abuse
People who abuse psychedelic drugs will generally feel emotionally unstable, may hallucinate or may act erratically. The perception of time is lost and the perception of surroundings may be deeply changed. If the surroundings or the external environment is safe and good, and the user’s attitude or emotions are good then there will often be what is known as a “good trip.” However, if the attitude is bad, the user is depressed, the environment is scary or threatening or otherwise unhappy then there is an increased risk of a “bad trip.” This is one of many facts about psychedelics that people tend to overlook or misinterpret.
The effects of psychedelic abuse have been found to be mostly while the user is under the influence of the drug. Generally, these effects wear off when the drug wears off and there are no lasting side effects. Some users, only a small percentage, will suffer from long term psychosis or side effects associated with their decision to abuse drugs that are psychedelic in nature. The most common side effects when taking Psychedelic are anxiety, sweating, nausea, vomiting, increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and loss of appetite. Some users have reported feeling a numbness or tingling sensation. Very rarely, but some people have died from taking Psychedelics. This happened because the dosage was much higher than anyone would normally take, and overdose was possible.
Common Psychedelic Drugs and Short-term Effects of Use
- Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
- Dizziness and sleeplessness
- Loss of appetite, dry mouth and sweating
- Numbness, weakness, and tremors
- Impulsiveness and rapid emotional shifts that can range from fear to euphoria, with transitions so rapid that the user may seem to experience several emotions simultaneously
- Feelings of relaxation (similar to effects of low doses of marijuana)
- Nervousness, paranoia, and panic reactions
- Introspective/spiritual experiences
- Misidentification of poisonous mushrooms resembling psilocybin could lead to unintentional, potentially fatal poisoning
- Increased body temperature and heart rate
- Uncoordinated movements (ataxia)
- Profound sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Hallucinations frequently involving radically altered environments as well as body and spatial distortions
- Increased blood pressure
- Severe vomiting (induced by the tea)
- Profoundly altered state of awareness and perceptions of otherworldly imagery
Common Reasons People Use Psychedelic Drugs
- Spiritual Use
- Recreational use
- Artistic Use
- Therapeutic Use
Assessment and Treatment
Anytime someone is using a substance on a regular basis and is unable/unwilling to stop, it’s a reasonable time to suggest addiction help. Addiction therapies can help the person understand why they take the drugs, and how they can stop taking drugs and avoid future temptations. This could be an excellent way to keep the person safe from drug-related problems down the line.