Your senses peaked, and everything was interesting. Your hallucinogen high delivered you a new world – one where you were in your body, but your consciousness had slipped.
You were experiencing reality on a different plane. Life looked and felt and sounded different.
Perhaps it was the best of times, and hopefully it wasn’t the worst of times – as hallucinogens can certainly deliver “bad trips” that leave a user ridden with terrifying thoughts and unbearable anxiety for close to 12 hours.
Whatever your experience, the hallucinogen you took – whether LSD, psilocybin, peyote, DMT, ayahuasca or others – entered your bloodstream and put your body through a hard and unnecessary beating.
Hopefully you’re not ready for another trip, because here is how hallucinogens affect the body:
Upon entering your body, hallucinogens act on neural circuits in the brain that use the neurotransmitter serotonin to produce their perception-altering effects.
Most of the obvious and noted effects occur in the prefrontal cortex of the brain – an area that controls cognition, perception and mood. Hallucinogens also impact areas of the brain that regulate stress and panic responses.
Depending on the potency of the hallucinogen, a high can last anywhere from 6 – 12 hours. This long time period may seem ideal – as you don’t have to keep taking the drug to recreate the high. But, for those who have experienced a bad trip, this long high can become agonizing and insufferable; When you’re ready to come down from the high, you can’t. You must wait it out.
Furthermore, while you’re wrapped up in your thoughts for the duration of the high, your body is also dealing with harsh side effects:
Each drug will produce slightly different, temporary effects, but in general, here are some of the symptoms you could experience in the short-term:
Long-term effects and other health risks of hallucinogens on the body remain unclear. However, it’s important to note the known risks, including:
Studies have reported that the use of certain hallucinogens can quickly spiral into a degree of tolerance. This means that a user must take increasingly larger doses to achieve the desired side effects.
While more data is needed in this area, research has concluded that LSD does produce tolerance. Since the drug holds such unpredictability, repeatedly ingesting LSD is a very dangerous practice.
Additionally, PCP has been found to be addictive. Ceasing repeated use of PCP will result in withdrawal symptoms, such as drug cravings, headaches and sweating.
While inconclusive, withdrawal from other hallucinogens can result in depression, anxiety, irritability and other psychological symptoms.
While your hallucinogen use may have only started as an experiment or an occasional drug you took at a party, any substance can turn into a substance of abuse when it starts inflicting significant distress and/or functional impairment in your life.
It may not seem like hallucinogens are dangerous or can result in a life-altering addiction, but persistent, chronic use of these drugs can damage your mind and body, hurt relationships, drain your bank account and derail your career and goals.
If you feel you have a hallucinogen substance use problem, you owe it to yourself to assess your current lifestyle, get insight from an addiction professional and seek help to break your substance use issue.