Hallucinogen Abuse and Addiction
Hallucinogens are a class of psychoactive drug that cause subjective changes in perception, thought, emotion and consciousness.
Unlike other psychoactive drugs such as stimulants and opiods, hallucinogens do not just amplify familiar states of mind. They induce experiences that are completely different from ordinary consciousness. These experiences are often compared to trances, deep meditation, religious experiences and dreams.
Hallucinations, strictly speaking, are perceptions that have no basis in reality, but appear completely realistic.
Psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants have been found within medicinal and religious traditions around the world. When used in religious practice, psychedelic drugs, as well as other substances like tobacco, are referred to as entheogens.
The most popular, and at the same time most stigmatized, use of psychedelics in Western culture has been associated with the search for direct religious experience, enhanced creativity, personal development and "mind expansion."
While hallucinogens are not addictive in the same way that drugs like heroin or amphetamine are addictive, they are considered drugs of abuse and dependence if users continue to use the drug despite recurring problems associated with its use.
LSD (an abbreviation for "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide") is the drug most commonly identified with the term "hallucinogen" and the most widely used in this class of drugs.
LSD users will develop a high degree of tolerance for the drug's effects after repeated use. They will need increasingly larger doses to produce similar effects.
LSD use also produces tolerance for other hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin and mescaline, but not to drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines, and PCP, which do not act directly on the serotonin receptors affected by LSD.
Tolerance for LSD is short-lived it is lost if the user stops taking the drug for several days. There is no evidence that LSD produces physical withdrawal symptoms when chronic use is stopped.
Two long-term effects, persistent psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), more commonly referred to as "flashbacks", have been associated with use of LSD. The causes of these effects, which in some users occur after a single experience with the drug, are not known.
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