Hallucinogens (LSD, acid, trips)
Hallucinogenic drugs, also known as "psychedelics", change the way a person perceives the world. Hallucinogens affect the central nervous system, altering a person's thinking, sense of time and emotions. They can cause a person to see or hear things that are distorted or do not exist.
There are many different kinds of hallucinogens. Some occur naturally, in trees, vines, seeds, fungi and leaves. Others are manufactured in laboratories.
Some examples of hallucinogens include:
- LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
- Magic mushrooms (psilocybin)
- Morning glory seeds
- Mescaline (peyote cactus)
- PCP (phencyclidine)
- Ecstasy (MDMA and related drugs in high doses)
- Cannabis (in high doses)
How are hallucinogens used?
Naturally occurring hallucinogens have been used since ancient times by various cultures throughout the world for their mystical and spiritual associations.
Generally, people who use hallucinogens don't take them on a regular basis, but on occasions that may be weeks or months apart. This may be because the effects require a long recovery time or because the pleasurable effects are unpredictable.
Effects of hallucinogens
The effects of any drug (including hallucinogens) vary from person to person. The effects of hallucinogens also depend on the environment in which the drug is taken and the mood and expectations of the person taking it. For example, whether the person is in a good mood or feeling anxious, is alone, with others or at a party will affect the way in which the drug works.
The effects of hallucinogens can last several hours and vary considerably depending on the specific type of hallucinogen. Some of the typical effects of hallucinogens include:
- Blurred vision
- Increased breathing rate
- Sense of relaxation and feeling of well-being
- Hallucinations and distorted sensory processing, including visual, auditory, body, time and space perception
- Disorganised thoughts, confusion and difficulty concentrating, thinking or maintaining attention
- Anxiety, agitation, paranoia and feelings of panic
- Impaired coordination
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased body temperature and sweating; may alternate with chills and shivering
Long term effects
The most consistent long term effect of hallucinogens is the flashback. Days, weeks or even years later, some people re-experience the effects of the drug. The person may see intense colours and experience hallucinations. Flashbacks can be triggered by the use of other drugs, or by stress, fatigue or physical exercise. The flashback experience can range from being pleasant to producing severe feelings of anxiety and usually last for a minute or two.
Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's circumstances, and usually involves a combination of counselling, group therapy, pharmacotherapy and withdrawal programs.
Souce of information: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation
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