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The Complicated Understanding of Hallucinogen Addiction

Addiction, as a whole, is very complex and is unique for every client. However, certain types of addictions, such as alcohol addiction, are certainly more common than others. While not often thought of as dangerous drugs or drugs one may fall into addictive habits with, the use and/or abuse of hallucinogens can certainly inform addiction. Due to its complexity as an addiction and complexity in terms of its history, gaining an understanding of hallucinogen addiction can greatly benefit clients in their journeys through recovery and healing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), substance use disorder (SUD) is “characterized by a problematic pattern of substance leading to noticeable impairment or distress” and can hinder progress in different areas of one’s life. The CDC lists hallucinogens under drugs that, when associated signs and symptoms surface, can inform SUD. However, with professional guidance and support, transformation is possible. One’s life does not have to be restrained by the addiction at hand, but rather, one can learn and heal from the addiction in order to blossom in life.

The Guest House, located in Ocala, FL, provides seclusion and comfort to all clients by means of promoting their full healing journey. All intersecting factors for addiction are addressed in treatment in order to guide clients into an overall healthier, happier lifestyle. Furthermore, The Guest House offers treatment for clients coping with hallucinogen addiction. Often, hallucinogen addiction co-exists with mental health disorders, known as co-occurring disorders. The Guest House offers many clinical, therapeutic, and holistic services for clients to engage in in order to create a healthy, fulfilling life.

What Are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens are psychoactive substances known to alter one’s perception and mood. These substances are commonly known by a variety of street names, including acid or shrooms, and are found in plants and fungi or can be synthetically produced. Depending on the variant, hallucinogens come in many forms, from tablets to saturated papers, and are either taken orally or smoked. Moreover, hallucinogens can be classified into two categories: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs.

Both categories of hallucinogens cause hallucinations, including sensations or images that are not real. Examples of classic hallucinogens include LSD, psilocybin, peyote, DMT, and 251-NBOMe. Dissociative drugs are unique in that they can cause one to feel out of control and disconnected from the present moment. PCP, ketamine, dextromethorphan, and salvia are examples of dissociative hallucinogens.

In addition to hallucinations, there are a number of sensory effects that occur after taking hallucinogens, including:

  • Distorted thinking about time and space
  • Feeling like time is standing still
  • Changes in perception, such as seeing colors brighter or being more sensitive to sounds
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD)

HPPD can occur weeks or months after taking hallucinogens, where one experiences something similar to a flashback. One may have fragmented flashbacks of the drug experience without having taken hallucinogens at that moment. Furthermore, HPPD is unpredictable and can occur during times of stress, mostly affecting young people.

Taking hallucinogens may also have effects on an individual’s body. One may experience increased heart rate or blood pressure, dry mouth, relaxation or panic, uncoordinated movement, dilated pupils, and nausea or vomiting. In the event of an overdose, there is a higher rate of death by suicide, accidents, destructive behavior, or poisoning. Effects of a hallucinogen overdose can include:

  • Respiratory decrease
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Death

Increasing Understanding of Hallucinogen Addiction

Many believe that hallucinogens are inherently safe, as they are associated more with intellect and spiritual experiences. Moreover, many believe that hallucinogens are not addictive. Truth be told, however, the recreational use of these substances can be very unhealthy and dangerous. Additionally, regular use of hallucinogens can certainly trigger the development of addiction.

The brain is a very moldable, ever-changing organ that adapts when outside substances, like hallucinogens, are consumed. These drugs alter the way the mind works on a daily basis and can cause clients to feel the effects of the drug in a sober state. Clients may also experience withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, paranoia, nausea, or depression, following use.

Hallucinogen dependency and addiction can be recognized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Drug use interferes with one’s life (school, work, home, etc.)
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Frequently using drug-related language
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor hygiene
  • Drug cravings
  • Paranoia
  • Delusional thoughts or detachment from reality
  • Inability to distinguish reality from hallucinations
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • New social group that shares drug-related interests
  • Financial difficulties at the hands of drug use

Because of the mainstream understanding of hallucinogen use, many clients often overlook these warning signs and symptoms. When these signs are present, it is important to address them as quickly as possible. Ignoring these signs can cause the exacerbation of symptoms over time. Facing the addiction is the first step in the healing journey, and this initial recognition allows clients to begin recovery sooner rather than later.

The Impact of History on the Understanding of Hallucinogen Addiction

Hallucinogen use rose in the 1960s with widespread experimentation. Synonymously referred to as psychedelics, hallucinogens were heavily linked to American pop culture, influencing clothing, music, art, and language. As these drugs became mainstream, overdoses and other dangerous effects of hallucinogen use began to rise. However, the introduction of new drugs decreased hallucinogen use. While psychedelics were still in use, new studies began to recognize these drugs as therapeutic substances, causing individuals to dismiss the potential danger of these substances. Furthermore, these studies motivated individuals to seek out natural hallucinogens as well in lieu of synthetic products.

By the mid-1960s, it became more difficult to obtain hallucinogens. Federal regulatory services became concerned about the misuse of these drugs, creating laws that restricted access and condemned the distribution of the substances. However, hallucinogens continued to be a drug associated with relaxation in the mainstream forum. Despite it being more difficult for users to obtain these substances, hallucinogen use did not disappear. Frequent, even daily use of the drugs was not uncommon and yet was still not associated with addiction.

Despite the reputation of hallucinogens inducing relaxation and therapeutic effects, it is important to understand that the repeated use of any drug can lead to dependency. Dependency can then transform into addiction. As noted, there are signs and symptoms of hallucinogen addiction. While some believe that hallucinogen addiction is defined by excessive macrodose use, addiction can form from microdosing as well. One may believe that their small drug use is not “enough” to be labeled as an addiction; however, when one’s life revolves around hallucinogen use, there is an undeniable risk of addiction.

Addressing the Rise and Risk of Microdosing

Microdosing occurs when a user takes very small amounts of a hallucinogenic drug, such as LSD or psilocybin. This may be one-tenth or one-twentieth of a non-clinical dose. Many clients may microdose in an attempt to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Microdosing is thought to improve productivity and ease pain; however, this method of use is not known to be safe or effective.

Research on microdosing hallucinogens begins with the effects of taking a full or regular dose. Challenges, such as anxiety and discomfort, can be side effects after either a full dose or microdose of the drug. It is common to believe that microdosing may reduce the potential for experiencing negative effects; however, these effects can still occur on the low dosage. The rise of microdosing comes from users believing that the microdose helps them improve focus, creativity, and mood. However, the following effects are still at risk of occurring:

  • Impaired focus and energy
  • Self-interference, cognitive interference, and social interference
  • Physiological discomfort
  • Increased anxiety
  • Impaired mood
  • Illegality

Some also experience a greater dependence on the hallucinogen as a result of microdosing. This dependence on microdoses to improve mood, behavior, and anxiety still puts the client at risk of addiction despite the seemingly positive aftereffects of the low dosage. As stated, the brain is a very moldable organ that is susceptible to changes due to drug use. Even at the low dosage, the brain and the inner connectivity of oneself can be greatly damaged by hallucinogen use. Furthermore, in a sober state, the client may experience even greater discomfort or low moods, leading them to “need” the drug in order to function.

Understanding of Hallucinogen Addiction Long-Term Consequences

Developing an understanding of hallucinogen addiction in the long-term forum is an important element of facing one’s addiction and beginning the healing process. When these long-term effects are present, it is easy for the client to lose themselves to the addiction. Eventually, even the addiction can lead the client’s overall life quality to decrease dramatically. This may be seen by a depletion in social life, finances, work life, or home life. Some long-term effects of hallucinogen addiction are:

  • Experiencing flashbacks weeks, months, or years after the drug use
  • Decreased motivation
  • Prolonged depression
  • Increased panic or anxiety
  • Impaired memory or concentration
  • Severe mental disturbances
  • Psychosis
  • Increased delusions
  • “Bad trips” that last anywhere from an hour to a few months

Understanding the potential consequences of hallucinogen addiction can be the first step in one’s healing journey. Due to the mainstream message of hallucinogen use not being dangerous, clients often overlook these long-term consequences and accept them. However, it is important to take this step in recognizing one’s addiction and taking action to effectively confront the addiction at hand and, more importantly, to rise above it.

Finding Healing in the Understanding of Hallucinogen Addiction at the Guest House

After the initial step of gaining an understanding of hallucinogen addiction, The Guest House is a facility where one can turn to in order to begin the healing journey. The Guest House is a nonjudgmental facility where clients of all different backgrounds come together to heal in a peaceful environment. Clients are able to address all elements of their addiction, from trauma to side effects to mental health concerns. It is a space away from daily life that encourages clients to focus on healing exclusively. Furthermore, The Guest House offers both inpatient and outpatient programs that include clinical treatment approaches alongside therapy services. A day/night program is offered as well.

The Guest House is designed to be a welcoming and private facility for clients to delve deep into learning about themselves and their addictions. With the clinical and therapeutic teams, The Guest House encourages clients to move in recovery at their own pace and gain a full understanding of hallucinogen addiction. In a full-encompassing healing program, the journey through hallucinogen addiction begins with understanding. Rather than rely on hallucinogens to create a space of relaxation, clients can begin to create this space in a sober manner with the help of healthy coping mechanisms and strategies. This sober setting of relaxation is practiced at The Guest House through therapeutic services.

Somatic therapy, for instance, is a physical approach to therapy that works to release pent-up energy within in order to meet that relaxing state. Instead of turning to hallucinogens, clients learn to use massage, movement, stretching, exercise, or skin treatments to reach that point of inner tranquility. Clients with hallucinogen addictions may have experienced anxiety, depression, trauma, or other mental health disorders that turned them to hallucinogen use. It is not uncommon for clients to have underlying causes for their addiction. In fact, it is very normal and common, and it is important to address these causes in order to fully heal from them. When a mental health disorder is also present, it is called a co-occurring disorder (or dual diagnosis).

Hallucinogen Addiction and Mental Health at The Guest House

Hallucinogens may also influence the development of mental health disorders. For instance, when the drug is taken to experience relaxing and therapeutic effects, one’s brain chemistry is altered. This new “normal” for the brain shifts, and an imbalance in the brain can occur. The Guest House provides specialized treatment for co-occurring disorders between hallucinogens and the following mental health disorders:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Other compulsive disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Other trauma-related disorders

The purpose of co-occurring disorder treatment is to restore the control the client has over their life. There are a variety of therapies and treatments offered for co-occurring disorder treatment. Some of these include individual and group therapies, meditation, yoga, breathwork, and adventure therapy. Bringing together all different types of treatments and therapies that embody full healing goals allows clients to restore that control, cope with all elements of their addiction, and pursue a fulfilling life.

Spirit2Spirit for Hallucinogen Addiction Healing

One of the therapeutic programs at The Guest House is Spirit2Spirit Healing. Clients coping with hallucinogen addiction often feel disconnected from reality because of the long-term consequences of drug use. This program is available to assist clients who feel disconnected from themselves or feel stuck in their lives.

Spirit2Spirit Healing is also beneficial for those coping with co-occurring disorders, which are prevalent among clients with hallucinogen addictions. This holistic therapy uses retreats and the calming environment of The Guest House to encourage clients to explore their minds and inner selves. Moreover, Spirit2Spirit Healing helps participants understand themselves and their addiction on a deeper level.

Emotional distress and feeling disconnected from reality can lead to self-destructive behaviors and thoughts. Spirit2Spirit healing addresses the root causes of co-occurring disorders and addiction and encourages clients to develop an understanding of hallucinogen addiction. Without this initial understanding, clients may feel lost in treatment. Thus, Spirit2Spirit healing engages the client with their mind, body, and spirit to obtain this knowledge. Through experiential, holistic therapies, clients engage with themselves, others, and the world around them. In a safe space, clients are welcome to develop stronger connections with others and themselves to promote healing and a fulfilling lifestyle.

Hallucinogen addictions often go untreated or unrecognized because of their historically therapeutic or relaxing effects. Many clients do not understand that hallucinogen use – even on the microdosing level – is extremely dangerous to their mental and physical well-being. Hallucinogens can greatly alter an individual’s brain and may also lead to them developing mental health disorders or symptoms. It is important to achieve an understanding of hallucinogen addiction in order to take that first step in healing. At The Guest House, hallucinogen addiction is one of the many types of substance use disorder we treat. We offer a safe and peaceful environment for clients to immerse themselves in to promote healing. For more information, please call The Guest House at (855) 483-7800.