Hallucinogens are powerful drugs. When a person experiences withdrawal from hallucinogens, they will experience a variety of physical and psychological symptoms.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Hallucinogens
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As a drug group, hallucinations have a unique and interesting history in terms of their use during religious ceremonies in various cultures through the centuries. As drugs of abuse, hallucinogens produce a range of different “out-of-body” experiences that may or may not appeal to certain types of drug users.
Whether addicted or using on an infrequent basis, withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens can be quite unfavorable depending on the type of drug used. Since hallucinogens such as LSD, mushrooms and PCP all produce different and varied effects, withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens can vary from drug to drug and person to person.
In any event, someone who experiences withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens on a frequent basis may be seeing the beginnings of physical dependency take shape. With ongoing use, the risk of dependency and addiction increases exponentially.
Mechanism of Action
Within the brain, chemicals known as neurotransmitters act as communication messengers between the brain’s various regions. Individual brain cell receptor sites secrete these chemicals as needed depending on the needs of the body at any given time. In effect, the amount of any one chemical present determines a person’s:
- Cognitive abilities
- Central nervous system functions
According to the Institute for Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluation, hallucinogens stimulate the production of glutamate and serotonin as well as other essential neurotransmitter chemicals. These effects account for the various types of hallucinations users experience.
Withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens develop from damage caused to brain cell receptor sites. As hallucinogen effects place excess strain on cell site activities, cells lose their ability to properly regulate brain and body functions. Over time, withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens become more severe as brain cell functions continue to deteriorate.
Physical withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens can vary depending on the type of hallucinogen as well as how long a person has used. Since these drugs have a direct effect on the body’s central nervous system processes, physical symptoms mainly result from impaired central nervous system functions.
Physical withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens may take the form of:
- Increase in breathing rates
- Increase in heart rate
- Increase in blood pressure
- Tremors in the extremities
- Body temperature fluctuations, such as chills then hot flashes
- Stiff muscles
As hallucinogens tend to have a cumulative effect when used on a regular basis, these symptoms will become progressively worse with continued use.
Hallucinogens take a considerable toll on the areas of the brain regulating cognition and emotions. According to Bryn Mawr College, the “good trips” and “bad trips” commonly associated with hallucinogen use results from the massive amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals moving through these brain regions.
Behavior-based withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens can greatly impair a person’s ability to function throughout the day. Symptoms may take the form of:
- Psychotic breaks
- Violent outbursts
- Feelings of rage
- Inability to speak in a coherent fashion
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
While hallucinogens are not as addictive as other drug classes, such as opiates and stimulants, continued use can cause noticeable damage to essential brain functions.