We all know that different types of drugs have different types of reactions in the body because basically, these are just chemical reactions that are taking place but affecting different parts of the body in many ways.
In this article, we are specifically talking about hallucinogens, what are hallucinogens, how are they obtained and how do hallucinogens affect the brain?
We will also try to understand why are these addictive and answer similar questions.
1. What are Hallucinogens?
As we all know any substance that causes one to experience dissociative effects or distortion is called hallucinogens. They are also called psychedelic drugs.
The influence is sometimes very harmful, usually, it can be described as a feeling or belief of an experience that is not true, so basically building perceptions of reality.
This type of perception is facilitated by hallucinations which can be either visual or auditory or sometimes both.
They have the ability to change a person’s mood instantly but for a small duration, and not just mood but also thoughts and perceptions as we read above.
The recurrent usage also leads to the user developing a sense of feeling a lot, implying that they experience very strong emotions.
So, if they’re happy they might be very happy, if they’re sad or anxious or scared it will all be very extreme. Sometimes it is this extra feeling that becomes so overwhelming that it creates distortions.
Many of these drugs are obtained from plants and even fungi and surprisingly you will notice many of these have been used since time immemorial for a lot of traditional affairs.
Examples of hallucinogens obtained naturally are LSD, peyote, and THC.
Others are obtained synthetically like MDMA. Since they are synthetically formulated they are also called designer drugs, and this terminology is very popular these days.
Hallucinogens are consumed mostly by young individuals although not limited to them only, and usually for getting a trip is what they say but there are more reasons like having fun, sometimes for spiritual experiences, and sometimes even for healing.
2. How the Brain Responds to Hallucinogens?
As we have seen above the consumption of hallucinogens leads to distortion of reality, but it is not always like that or even limited to that.
To understand the concept we have to see that hallucinogens when interacting with the brain do not create a similar or the same feeling for everyone who is consuming them.
So, some people consume them and feel very positive or very negative about something while there can be others who will not feel anything at all, although these are dependent on three variables which include the type, quantity, and strength of the substance that you are consuming.
These variables will help depict the reaction because the hallucinogens are designed in such a manner that they affect the brain by targeting the part that is involved in the sensory inputs.
The risky part about hallucinogens is the fact about perceived reality and distortion. This can be very dangerous because your mind does not clearly understand the gravity of a situation under the influence.
So, if there is an activity which you might not be doing otherwise as it seems very difficult; it can appear to be easy as you are feeling very positive and charged by the consumption.
But doing such an activity can actually affect your life, or even be lethal in some cases. Usually, people consuming hallucinogens experience blurred senses, paranoia, hallucinations, and a feeling of detachment from the body.
3. How do Hallucinogens Affect the Brain?
Hallucinogens affect the brain as they target the neurotransmitters working in the brain, they have mind-altering effects and disrupt the brain functioning.
There are several ways in which hallucinogens affect the brain and hallucinogens work in a manner that interferes with the brain circuits.
The substances present in these basically block the serotonin circuits which leads to a reduction in the sensory perceptions that are created using the neural circuits.
With the decline in the perceptions, you are more prone to delusions, hallucinations, and nightmares.
All the executive brain functioning happens in the prefrontal cortex. Hallucinogens disrupt its functioning by interfering with the working and leading to a decline in cognition.
The emotions and perceptions in our body are regulated by glutamate, which is a brain chemical. Hallucinogens interfere with this chemical and as the levels change, it leads to dissociative effects.
Hallucinogens are drugs that have the potential to cause persistent psychosis, which is a long-term mental disorder with symptoms like disorganized thoughts, visual disturbances, and sudden mood shifts.
4. Dependence on Hallucinogens
Just like other drugs and substances your body can develop a resistive tolerance towards hallucinogens, implying you would need a larger and larger quantity of intake to satiate yourself or duplicate the same effect.
This happens on various levels, some people can be psychologically dependent others even physically. In these cases, they cannot carry out even everyday activities without consumption as now the drug looks like a very important part of life.
The effects are sometimes very unpredictable, you can sometimes experience a sudden pang or visual or flashbacks even after consuming the drug after a very long time or alternatively, a long time after consumption of the drug which can be weeks, or even months later.
You can feel like you’re back in the past or you feel like you’re again in ‘that trip’ basically, anything away from reality.
5. Final Thoughts
As we have seen above hallucinogens are very addictive drugs that impact the brain very severely.
We should take care if and when we are consuming and if we happen to develop a dependence then always seek medical help and counseling to get through as the withdrawal is pretty difficult.