Hallucinogens are illegal drugs, which have a large number of psychoactive ingredients that produce hallucinations. The effects of hallucinogens are highly variable, unreliable and also unpredictable due to the significant variations in amount and composition of active compounds. Hallucinogenic drug abuse can be dangerous because of their unpredictable nature.
Ignorant of unpleasant and adverse effects of Hallucinogenic drugs on brain, many people are getting addicted to this harmful drug. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 1.1 million persons aged 12 or older used hallucinogens for the first time in 2008. Hallucinogenic drugs can be broadly classified into three categories based on their effect on the human brain. They are Psychedelics, Dissociatives, and Deliriants.
Psychedelic drugs alter a user’s perception of reality. Some of the examples of this category are LSD (lysergic acid diethylamine), Mescaline (peyote), and MDMA (Ecstasy) etc. These drugs cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter ‘Serotonin’. The Serotonin is distributed throughout the spinal cord and brain and is associated with the control of mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, sensory perception and muscle control. The effect of these drugs may be intense but brief for some, but it can last for hours or days in some people.
Dissociative drugs, as the name itself suggests, detaches or dissociates a person’s feelings from reality. Some of the drugs in this category are PCP (phencyclidine), Ketamine (anesthetic), Dextromethorphan (DXM), Nitrous Oxide etc. This class of drugs work by acting on the neurotransmitter ‘Glutamate’, which is one of the neurotransmitters associated with the perception of pain, environmental awareness, memory and learning.
Deliriant drugs are believed to induce delirium in the abuser’s brain. Some of the common drugs in this category include Nightshade, Mandrake, Henbane, Datura as well as Diphenhydramine (Benedryl). Deliriants act on the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, responsible for the stability of the mood. Delirium causes disorientation and confusion which makes the abuser feel completely disconnected from the surroundings. Deliriants produce effects similar to that of Dissociatives, but are extremely toxic in high doses and can also cause overdose deaths.
All hallucinogens interfere with the normal operation of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Different types of hallucinogens produce similar psychological effects, but they differ in intensity, time taken to produce effect and how long the effect of the drug lasts. Hallucinogenic drug abusers can experience ‘Flashbacks’, a spontaneous recurrence of same effects even without using the drug. Flashbacks occur suddenly, often without warning, and may occur within a few days or even years after taking a hallucinogen.
Remember, these are the negative effects of hallucinogenic drugs only on the brain. Along with these psychological effects, it causes many physical effects including dilated pupils, elevated body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, appetite loss, sleeplessness, tremors, headaches, nausea, sweating, heart palpitations, blurring of vision, memory loss and trembling etc.