Sunday, April 9, 2017

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Hallucinogen Abuse

A hallucinogen is a substance that causes hallucinations, in other words, causes you to, for example, see, hear or feel things that are not real. Three of the most common hallucinogens are LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), psilocybin and PCP (phencyclidine).

LSD affects people by altering the sensations and feelings in people. A person may feel several emotions at once, or swing rapidly from one to the other. In higher doses, the drug will cause delusions and visual hallucinations. A person may feel as if they hear colours, or see sounds. They may also experience a terrifying fear of losing control, insanity or death. LSD users also sometimes experience “flashbacks” suddenly and without warning, within a few days or even a year after taking the drug. LSD is considered non-addictive and users often discontinue or cut back on their own.

Psilocybin is derived from mushrooms native to tropical areas of South America, Mexico and the United States. They are typically eaten dried or fresh. They can also be brewed in teas or cooked in other foods. The effects last up to six hours.

The effects of the psilocybin-containing mushrooms are similar to LSD. Psychological effects include hallucinations, an altered sense of time, and not being able to tell fantasy from reality. Psilocybin may also cause panic reactions and psychosis. The long-term effects may be flashbacks, a risk of psychiatric illness, impaired memory and tolerance to the drug.

PCP (phencyclidine) was originally developed in the 1950s as an anaesthetic, however the adverse effects caused it to be discontinued. It is a white powder that dissolves in water or alcohol. It is often snorted, smoked or ingested orally. Its effects last up to six hours.

PCP distorts perceptions of sight and sound, and produces a feeling of detachment from one’s body. Adverse effects include symptoms that mimic schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, paranoia) and mood problems such as severe anxiety. Long-term risks include addiction, memory loss, problems with speech and thinking, depression and weight loss. These symptoms can still happen for up to a year after discontinuing usage.

Severe overdoses can cause breathing problems, coma, seizures or death, though this is relatively rare. Most deaths stemming from hallucinogen abuse stem from suicides or accidents.
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