Psychedelic drugs are considered to be less addictive in general compared to stimulants and opioids. It is said to be less likely to be abused on a long term basis long term, and less likely to cause intense physical side effects or overdose. They are often thought of as less harmful drugs than other drugs, but the truth is that – they are also dangerous in many ways when they are ABUSED—abuse in the sense of over-usage, frequent usage, combinations, etc.
For someone constantly abusing these drugs, there is always a chance for dangerous side effects. Certain hallucinogens can cause severe health issues the first time they are used. Understanding the dangers of psychedelic drug effects is necessary and users of these substances should not think themselves immune to the same issues experienced by abusers of other types of drugs.
Physical Effects of Psychedelics
Abusing psychedelics over a long period can cause many side effects, making it more dangerous, but even taking one of these drugs once in an extremely large dose can be problematic. Some of the physical effects of psychedelic drug abuse that could be dangerous include:
- Increase in heart rate and blood pressure – psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, peyote, and PCP all cause these effects. In acute use, it may not be a particularly problematic issue. Still, the rise in blood pressure and heart rate caused by consistent psychedelic drug abuse can become dangerous over time.
- An increase in body temperature – while most hallucinogens cause this issue, MDMA may cause a person’s body temperature to become especially high, leading to dehydration
- Loss of appetite – drugs like LSD and peyote can cause intense appetite suppression which, if they are abused in the long-term, can cause weight loss and malnourishment.
- Nausea and vomiting – nearly all hallucinogens cause nausea, vomiting, and other issues of this type. These drugs’ strong effects on the stomach and gastrointestinal system can cause dangerous effects over time.
- Ataxia and muscular issues – Psilocybin and PCP, among other drugs of this class, can cause ataxia (or the inability to voluntarily move the muscles).
Psychological Effects of Psychedelics
Many people abuse these drugs for the mind-altering effects they cause, as they can give an individual an extreme “sense of heightened understanding.” An intensified sense of smell and hearing, synesthesia (or the ability to “hear colors and see sounds,” also called mixed substances), and “the sense that one is undergoing a profound mystical or religious experience.” However, there can be times when an individual experiences what is called a bad trip, or an adverse reaction to the drug’s psychological effects. This reaction can include:
- Frightening hallucinations
- Extreme depression
- Rapid mood swings
- The fear of disintegrating, not being real, or that one’s identity is no longer clear
Long-term psychological effects of Psychedelics
Constant abuse of psychedelics leads to an overwhelming urge or desire for the substance. Certain psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin may create different effects in the same individual at different times of use based on changes in setting, tolerance, and mood. Also, other psychological issues can result from the abuse of these drugs, such as:
Toxic psychosis – Visual disturbances and extreme paranoia characterize this disorder. A person will require treatment for this type of psychosis. As long as the drug is taken in the long term, this condition can be caused by almost any psychedelic, from PCP to MDMA to LSD.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder – HPPD causes flashbacks to previous drug trips, usually adverse ones, even months or years after the individual stops abusing these drugs. It can also mimic the signs of a stroke or brain tumor.
Addiction – Though not incredibly common, addiction can result from long-term psychedelic abuse. An individual can become addicted to PCP and MDMA more quickly than other hallucinogens, though abuse over time is never healthy for a person’s mental state.
Tolerance – Tolerance and cross-tolerance for all psychedelic drugs develops quickly and can cause users to bounce from substance to substance, looking for the effects they once felt.
In conclusion, people can hurt themselves by taking psychedelic drugs and abusing them, even those which seem the least likely to cause harm, as these individuals may become confused or delusional due to the drugs.