Hallucinogens: Effects, Addiction, Abuse, and Treatment

Hallucinogens, also referred to as psychedelics, are drugs that alter ones state of mind, sense of time, and sense of place. There are numerous types of hallucinogens, with some of the most common being LSD, ecstasy, mescaline, and LMT.

Hallucinogen Effects

hallucinogen mushroom

Hallucinogens alter one’s ability to relegate themselves to a particular time or place. They cause feelings of euphoria and excitability, although there are a myriad of ways one can respond to their use. For instance, wild mood swings are common, and some may report feeling several emotions at the same time. These may range from exhilaration, aggression, paranoia, and high energy. These sensations may cycle rapidly from one to another, or they may occur simultaneously or one after another over time.

Some users feel removed from time and space, and senses may merge together to form unusual sensations. This is where the concept of “seeing sounds” or “hearing colors” comes from. In some cases, these feelings are unpleasant, with users not remembering who or where they are. They also may perceive others, or themselves, as moving very fast or slowly, or even changing shapes.

The length of time a “high” lasts also varies depending on the person and the amount of the drug taken, along with the type of drug.

Are Hallucinogenic Drugs Addictive?

Yes, hallucinogenic drugs can be addictive. Hallucinogens alter a person’s state of mind and sense of time and place. The most common hallucinogenic drugs are LSD, ecstasy, mescaline, and LMT. The period of a “high” from these drugs depends on the drug type and amount of the substance consumed.

Those suffering from an addiction to hallucinogens are urged to seek treatment immediately.

What are Common Hallucinogenic Drugs?

Popular hallucinogenic drugs include:

  • LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)
  • Psilocybin (Mushrooms, or Shrooms)
  • Peyote buttons
  • DMT (Dimethyltryptamine)
  • Mescaline (Trimethoxyphenethylamine)
  • DXM (Dextromethorphan)

Physical effects may also take place when using hallucinogens. These may go unnoticed, but they are also the most dangerous of the effects. They may include:

    • High blood pressure, sometimes to dangerous levels
    • Heart rate irregularities, especially rapid heart rate
    • Sweating
    • Tremors
    • Dry mouth
  • LCD and sugarOne of the methods of LSD intake

    • Dizziness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Seizures
    • Cardiac arrest and heart attack
    • Drowsiness
    • Convulsions, and in severe cases, coma

Hallucinogens come in many forms. Some are taken via powder or pill. Others are made into tiny capsules called “microdots” and still others are formed into a square of gelatin known as “window panes.”

In some cases, negative psychological reactions occur. These are quite common, and are often referred to as “bad trips.” Feelings of fear, confusion, and dread may come upon the user out of nowhere. These feelings may last a few minutes, or several hours. In some cases, these trips are terrifying and psychologically damaging.

During a “trip” users may become aggressive or lash out. They may also become withdrawn and reclusive or have difficulty verbalizing what is happening.

In some cases, these psychological effects last beyond the end of the drug cycle. Confusion and fear may persist. This is known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). Users may continue to have feelings of confusion and distorted reality long after the trip has ended without having to take any more of the drug. In rare events, this condition may last for years after the drug use.

Warning Signs

Sometimes it can be hard to know for sure if a loved one is using drugs. While use of hallucinogens can be relatively obvious at times, other times the effects may go unnoticed for a while, especially when the person isn’t high.

Some research suggests that over time, heavy users may have a decrease in cognitive function. This may be more prevalent in young people, because their brains often haven’t fully developed yet. Symptoms may include forgetfulness, slow reactions, confusion, and lowered attention span. It is not yet known whether these symptoms are permanent.

A few things to watch for when trying to determine if someone is abusing hallucinogens

Physical changes – Hallucinogenic users may become less concerned with personal hygiene. They may display frequent tremors or shakiness. They may also begin speaking deliriously, and/or display extreme disorientation. Sweating may also be present.

Behavioral changes – Those who are on hallucinogens may act or speak strangely. They may seem confused and disoriented. They may even seem paranoid, or mentally ill. They may even behave aggressively, lash out, or seem afraid even when no danger is present. In some cases, normally upbeat and outgoing people may become withdrawn. These changes may last beyond being “high” and become more permanent personality changes between drug uses.

Financial Issues – Drug users may frequently ask for money, even if they have no reasonable explanation for why it’s needed or how it will be used. In some cases, they may steal money and other valuables, even from loved ones.

Who is at Risk?

Hallucinogens are commonly used in combination with other drugs or alcohol. While there are a wide range of users, certain groups are more likely to abuse these drugs than others.


Those who suffer from co-occurring disorders, such as depression or anxiety, are more likely to use drugs than those who don’t. Veterans, who have often been through traumatic events during deployment, are more likely to suffer from these disorders, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. They may attempt to self-medicate as a result, and hallucinogens are a popular choice for many.

Teens and College Students

Young adults and teens are more likely to use many drugs. This can be due to peer pressure, as an attempt to reduce stress or depression, or simply out of curiosity and a teen’s “invincible” frame of mind. Drugs are also commonly used and widely available at parties and clubs where young adults frequent.


Those in certain career fields may also be more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than others.

How common is hallucinogen addiction in the U.S.?

More than 13.5% of all U.S. high school seniors have reported experimenting with LSD at least once in their lives by 1997. In 2008, around 3.1 million people aged 12-25 years old reported using LSD. The lowest number of high school senior users was reported at 7.2% in 1986.

Types of Hallucinogens

There are many drugs that can be abused for their hallucinogenic properties. Some being natural, legal and illegal, examples of these are:

  • LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)
    Psilocybin (Mushrooms, or Shrooms)
    Peyote buttons
  • DMT (Dimethyltryptamine)
    Mescaline (Trimethoxyphenethylamine)
    DXM (Dextromethorphan)
Hallucinogen Statistics
  • Over 13 and a half percent of all US seniors had reported experimenting with LSD at least once in their lives by 1997.
  • Approximately 3.1 million people in the United States 12 years of age through 25 years of age reported LSD use in 2008.
  • In 1986, the lowest number of high school senior users, was reported at 7.2%.

Treatment for Hallucinogen Addiction

Treatment for hallucinogen use is a long process. The first step is recognizing that a problem exists.

Trained drug abuse counselors are available to help users navigate the path to getting clean and sober. Some may benefit from doing an outpatient program with a therapist, but in most cases an inpatient facility is the best option for those with a severe addition. Those who attend inpatient programs are less likely to relapse than those who attend outpatient counseling sessions from the start.