Is There Treatment for Hallucinogen Addiction?

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Hallucinogens found in plants have been used for thousands of years to evoke enlightenment, explore the inner mind, in healing rituals, and for other cultural or religious ceremonies. With medical advancement, came the notorious LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) “trip” and since the drug gained popularity during the1960’s, many other hallucinogens have made their way into society with unpredictable consequences.

Hallucinogen Effects

Treatment for Hallucinogen Addiction

Treatment at a hallucinogen rehab is mainly counseling and behavioral therapy.

Hallucinogens affect people in different ways because they come from a variety of sources such as plants or synthetic compounds which may have multiple chemical contents. They cause distorted perceptions of time, objects, space, movement, color, and sounds as well as impacting thoughts, reasoning, judgment, emotions, and psychomotor skills. Dissociative hallucinogens cause the user to feel a distance from their reality or self and they may lose their coordination or balance.

The effects are unpredictable from event to event and users can have a “bad trip” that causes frightening hallucinations, severe panic, paranoia, and anxiety which can lead them into harmful situations and overdose.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, in 2011, the numbers of hallucinogen involved emergency department visits were:

  • MDMA- 22,498
  • GHB – 2,406
  • Ketamine – 1,550
  • LSD – 4,819
  • PCP – 75,538
  • Misc. Hallucinogens – 8,043

Hallucinogen Addictions

Hallucinogens affect the brain and central nervous system in a variety of ways based on their chemical structures and the combination of other chemical elements involved. The majority of hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting serotonin activity in the brain and central nervous system. Serotonin is involved in the control of behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory survival systems of mood, hunger, sensory perception, body temperature, muscle control, and sexual behavior.

While hallucinogens generally do not cause physical dependency it can result from the other compounded substances. Psychological dependency and addiction results from repeat disruptions to the serotonin system, continued exposure to hallucinogens, and the predisposition of the person to develop an addiction such as mental health status, biological, development, or environmental factors.

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Is There Treatment for Hallucinogen Addiction?

Treatment is available for hallucinogen addiction that can help with the withdrawals, psychological, and physical aspects of the addiction although they will vary dramatically from person to person.

Withdrawals from the hallucinogens are normally associated with depression, flashbacks, muscle spasms, hyperthermia, psychosis, stupor, confusion, aggression or agitation. Safety is a main concern because unpredictable symptoms may occur and require necessary interventions of treatment providers such as anti-psychotic medications.

Counseling and therapies play an important role in hallucinogen treatment and there are many types of therapy that will help with the cognitive, social, familial, and behavioral aspects of the addiction. Maintaining sobriety, changing thought patterns, and coping with the addiction to hallucinogens as well as other substances is a long term process. After care services, group therapies, family counseling, and 12- step meetings can augment the formal treatment strategy.

the Take-Away

Treating a hallucinogen addiction involves helping a person heal from and understand their addiction, and then helping them to build a life without hallucinogenic drugs.