Hallucinogenic drugs are no longer necessarily seen as the societal threat that they were portrayed as in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the unpredictability of their effects continues to make them dangerous, particularly when combined with other substances.1,2,3,4,5
While every hallucinogenic drug has a specific set of associated risks, most of the commonly used hallucinogens, including LSD, peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ketamine, PCP, and MDMA have broad similarities in their effects. Indeed, even drugs not commonly thought of as hallucinogens such as tobacco and alcohol can have similar effects in large doses or on individuals who are especially susceptible to hallucinogenics.
Setting aside substance-specific risks, common hallucinogens tend to cause a variety of similar effects. Low to moderate doses of common hallucinogenic drugs include but are not limited to the following:1,2,5
In the United States, hallucinogens are usually classed as either “classic” or “dissociative”.2 Classic hallucinogens, as the name suggests, are known for creating sensory illusions. Most classic hallucinogens are also from the first wave of drugs that became known in the 1960s, which includes natural plant or fungi-based substances as well as a few synthetic chemicals.
Dissociative hallucinogens work slightly differently. Rather than creating sensory illusions the way most people understand them, dissociative drugs can create feelings of detachment that make the affected individual feel separated from their body. Most of these drugs tend to be synthetic, though a few are organically based.
Hallucinogens generally do not have the same reputation for danger as other drugs such as opioids and methamphetamines. However, misusing these substances regularly can lead to a range of dangerous effects that could be difficult to treat. Some of these effects include the following.1,2,3,4,5
Driving or operating heavy machinery is especially dangerous when a person is on LSD, as they may no longer be cognizant of the dangers of the immediate reality of their situation. Additionally, accidental deaths from falls, exposure, and other normally avoidable causes are increased every time one consumes hallucinogens. Additionally, long-term use can lead to lingering effects that cause similar dangers, even without the immediate presence of the drug.
While some hallucinogens like psilocybin, LSD, and ketamine have shown potential for treating some mental health disorders, these and other hallucinogenic drugs could damage one’s mental health as well. When the administration of these substances is done outside of a controlled medical environment, there is a very serious risk of worsening any preexisting mental health issues.
Some hallucinogenic drugs, particularly MDMA, are known for increasing the risks of kidney and liver disease. However, virtually all drugs will increase this risk, over time. Liver and kidney diseases can be life-threatening and can leave a person vulnerable to countless medical complications.
People who take large doses of hallucinogenic drugs might find themselves developing Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), where they continue to experience some hallucinations even without the presence of drugs. The most common manifestation of this condition is seeing trails or halos around objects. This can be uncomfortable and unsettling and may reduce the quality of life for affected individuals.
Regular use of hallucinogens may indicate a substance use disorder. This is a serious mental health issue that causes compulsive drug taking and progressively worsens one’s mental state over time.
While some of them may have legitimate use in medical or religious settings, hallucinogens can be exceedingly dangerous when used recreationally. If you suspect that you or someone you know has a problem with hallucinogen use, our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers is ready to help. Call +1(214) 935-2287 today to find personalized drug treatment options in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.