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Understanding and Treating Hallucinogen Use Disorder

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The discussion of legalizing hallucinogens such as psilocybin (commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms”) has started to overshadow the dangers that they pose. This includes the potential for psychological addiction and hallucinogen use disorder. Now, the truth is that hallucinogen abuse can be very dangerous and should not be minimized, no matter what popular culture and the broader social discussions have to say.

The Dangers of Minimizing Hallucinogen Use

When hallucinogens like mescaline, MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, and PCP become minimized, the statistics that show their detriments also become minimized. This includes the prevalence of its use among young adults.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “In 2021, 8% of young adults reported past-year hallucinogen use, representing an all-time high since the category was first surveyed in 1988. By comparison, in 2016, 5% of young adults reported past-year hallucinogen use, and in 2011, only 3% reported use. Types of hallucinogens reported by participants included LSD, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, ‘shrooms’ or psilocybin, and PCP.” Some of this hallucinogen use will eventually lead to hallucinogen use disorder for some individuals.

What Exactly Is Hallucinogen Use Disorder?

Hallucinogen use disorder tends to be different than other types of substance use disorders because it is often characterized by its psychologically addictive properties rather than its physical ones. Ultimately, it is an addiction to hallucinogens to the point that an individual becomes dependent on their effects to function in their day-to-day lives. These effects can be quite serious.

According to the peer-reviewed journal, Addictive Behaviors Reports, “Use of hallucinogens frequently presents alongside other substance use issues and mental health problems.” Also, “[It has been] reported that hallucinogen use was significantly associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders (particularly PTSD), eating disorders, personality disorders, substance use disorders (particularly opiate use disorder), and past suicide attempts.” While these are the specific disorders that have been associated with hallucinogen abuse, there are also many universal negative signs and symptoms that present in hallucinogen use disorder.

The Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogen Use Disorder

As previously mentioned, hallucinogen use disorder tends to affect one’s psychology more than their physicality. This also tends to be true with the signs and symptoms related to hallucinogen addiction. The following are just a few of those signs and symptoms:

  • Can lead to long-term disruptions in perceptions of reality
  • Alters thought patterns and can lead to excessive negative mood states
  • Can lead to feelings of “detachment” or “disconnectedness” from one’s body and surroundings
  • Increases the potential for paranoia, fearfulness, and anxiety
  • Can cause physical side effects such as persistent nausea, headaches, and joint and muscle pain
  • There is a potential for overdose and overdose death

If some or many of these side effects and/or symptoms are present it is highly recommended that professional help be sought sooner than later. Doing so can mean the difference between short-term side effects and long-term consequences. The good news is that there are many effective modalities for treating hallucinogen use disorder.

How Can Hallucinogen Use Disorder Best Be Treated?

The primary way that hallucinogen use disorder is treated is via therapies and/or psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These types of “talk” therapies can help get to the underlying issues that are often correlated to substance abuse (including hallucinogen abuse).

Individuals who struggle with hallucinogen use disorder can also benefit by connecting to local recovery communities and mutual recovery programs. This includes 12-Step programs that focus on people who struggle with substance abuse.

According to the journal, Social Work in Public Health, “There are many paths to recovery from alcohol and SUDs, and one that has been traveled by many and is associated with positive long-term outcomes is involvement in 12-Step and mutual/self-help groups… These groups are highly accessible and are available at no cost in communities throughout the world, thus serving as important and readily available resources in substance abuse recovery.” A mix of formal treatment and 12-step recovery meetings can be a winning combination.

The Importance of Individualized Comprehensive Care at Lantana Recovery

Here at Lantana Recovery, we believe in both individualized and comprehensive addiction and mental health care. We feel that “one-note” recovery often falls flat, which is why we always create customized recovery plans for each of our clients, including those who struggle with hallucinogen use disorder.

The iconic American author and philosopher William James once said, “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” At Lantana Recovery, we know that overcoming addiction can be the challenge of a lifetime, but it is overcoming that challenge that makes for the successful healthy life that we all deserve to live.

Hallucinogens and their potentially dangerous side effects have started to become minimized more and more in recent years. The truth is that hallucinogens such as LSD and psilocybin can be addictive and lead to hallucinogen use disorder, which is much more common than people might think. Also, as many hallucinogens (particularly psilocybin) become legal in the U.S., they are being bandied about as wholly safe. This is false. Hallucinogens can be both physically and psychologically dangerous. If you feel like you or someone you love is struggling with hallucinogen abuse, we can help. For more information on the dangers of hallucinogen use disorder and some effective ways to treat it, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.