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How Psychedelic Drug Effects are Harmful

Psychedelic drugs can cause a variety of harmful physical and psychological effects.

As a group, psychedelic drugs work to alter a person’s perception of reality. Different types of psychedelics alter perceptions through different mechanisms of action.

In general, psychedelic drug effects can be divided into two categories:

  • Deliriants
  • Dissociatives

Much like the name implies, deliriants create a state of delirium borne of confused thinking processes. According to the Mayo Clinic, delirium brings on a decreased awareness of the surrounding environment. In effect, deliriants disrupt the brain’s cognitive functions, essentially scrambling incoming sensory information.

Dissociative-type psychedelic drug effects cut off communications between the brain and the body, leaving the mind to expand in awareness and create its own reality. While these drug types do work in different ways, psychedelics disrupt the brain’s chemical pathways, which can be harmful when used on a frequent basis.

Some of the more commonly known psychedelic drugs include:

  • Ecstasy
  • LSD
  • Mushrooms
  • Cannabis
  • Morning Glory Seeds
  • Cacti

Psychedelic Drug Effects

psychedelic drug experience

Psychedelic drug experiences can involve vivid colors and floating sensations.

Psychedelic drug effects can vary depending on the type of drug used. These effects may include:

  • Seeing vivid colors
  • Floating sensations
  • Out-of-body experience
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Hallucinations

According to Columbia Health, psychedelic drug effects can also vary in terms of the type of experience or “trip” a person has. Unlike other types of drugs, environmental factors, such as setting, other people and mood state can influence the type of “trip” a person experiences.

At any given sitting, a user may experience a “bad trip” or a “good trip.” This unpredictability factor can pose serious consequences for someone trying psychedelics for the first time.

“Bad Trips”

Psychedelic drug effects can take a turn for the worse when users experience a bad drug trip. Someone using while in a bad mood or in a noisy, busy environment stands the risk of experiencing frightening hallucinations. Under these conditions, a person may act on what he or she experiences, which can be dangerous for the user as well as for those in attendance.

Psychedelic drug effects also tend to increase the body temperature. While in a panic state, a person can easily overheat to the point where major bodily systems, such as the heart, kidney or liver systems actually shut down.

Long-Term Effects

People who use psychedelics on a frequent, long-term basis stand to develop serious psychological conditions that persist long after they stop using. According to Brown University Health Education, long-term psychedelic drug effects can leave users experiencing flashbacks of past drug trips at any given time, regardless of whether their under the influence or not.

Other long-term effects may take the form of:

  • Drastic mood swings that persist for months or years
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Aggression

Addiction Risks

While nowhere near as addictive as opiate and stimulant type drugs, someone who uses on a regular basis will likely develop a tolerance to psychedelic drug effects, according to the University of Hawaii. This is especially the case with LSD. As brain tolerance levels increase, users must take increasingly larger drug doses to experience a “high” effect.

In general, psychedelics carry a low risk for physical dependency, though a psychological dependency can develop over time. Someone who’s psychologically dependent believes he or she can’t cope with daily life without the drug’s effects. This type of dependency lies at the heart of addiction.

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