In 1955, a mycologist by the name of R. Gordon Wasson was traveling through Mexico to study mushrooms. During his travels, he participated in a shamanic ritual using mushrooms. He published his findings, but it was his colleague Roger Heim who worked with Albert Hofmann to identify psilocin as the active ingredient in so-called Magic Mushrooms. In the 1960’s, the use of both LSD and psilocin became popular, and addiction to psychedelic drugs started to grow.
Current research indicates that psilocin and its close relative psilocybin work to inhibit coordination among the various areas of the brain.
Normally, our senses work together. For example, a person attending a concert will hear sounds, see instruments being played and compose these two pieces of sensory input into a coordinated whole, namely that the instruments being played cause the sounds that are being heard. Similarly, a person sees a lightning strike in the distance and then would expect to hear thunder after a few moments.
A person who has ingested shrooms, however, might see sounds or hear colors. Users report seeing fractal images appear in front of them or seeing their friends changed into animals or giant bugs. While some people enjoy the experience, others find it terrifying.
The other commonly recognized psychedelic is LSD. It was first developed by Albert Hofmann in Switzerland in 1938. He also discovered its psychotropic qualities. Persons who use LSD report visual hallucinations and often lose track of time. Like psilocybin, it was popularized during the 1960’s.
Psychedelics, both shrooms and LSD, are not physically addictive, but researchers use the term psychological addiction to describe addiction to psilocin or psilocybin. It is an addiction of the mind, not of the body. Use recurs not because of physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms, but because the mind desires the experience of the trip and the escape from problems that it offers. The effects of using shrooms can be so powerful that users feel compelled to use them again. This is especially true of persons who believe they enter into a higher state of existence or are in conversation with God, sometimes called the ‘spiritual effect’. Some people use psychedelics to escape from their problems rather than learning how to manage them. It is this escape from reality that poses the true danger of psychedelic use. The person is unwilling or unable to live in the real world.
The primary sign of an addiction to psychedelics is that the person spends many of their waking hours acquiring or using them. Another sign is that the person experiences flashbacks to prior trips while not currently using the drug. A further sign of addiction to psychedelics is that the user takes the drug whenever something unpleasant happens to them. A final warning of psychological addiction is that the user has repeatedly failed in attempts to stop using. Regardless of the consequences, the person will use the drug if it is available.
Some people who use psychedelics report what is known as a ‘bad trip’. This involves emotions and thoughts that are very frightening. Some have what they understand as premonitions of their own death or the death of the universe. Such bad trips may lead the user to consider ending their own life, especially if they are afraid that the terrifying thoughts and emotions will never stop.
Psychedelic drug use can also lead to causing harm to others. Sometimes the harm to others is not intended and the person is unaware that their actions might truly harm somebody else. The drug’s effect on vision and the presence of hallucinations may lead the user to respond to things that are not real or to ignore things that are real. This leads people to engage in reckless activities.
Long term use of psychedelics increases the likelihood of flashbacks in which the user suddenly enters into a state similar to the use of the drug. These flashbacks are unpredictable. For example, a person may be driving somewhere and suddenly have hallucinations instead of being aware of what is really around them. There are other effects of long-term use of psychedelics, including:
Clearly, these effects will have a negative impact on social situations or even result in criminal behavior.
Some may believe that the use of psychedelics is safe, especially since they cause no physical addiction. For the person suffering from emotional pain, they provide an easy escape. Their use in religious rituals also leads some to believe that they are harmless. However, psychedelics can be psychologically addictive as the person prefers the psychedelic experience to their own reality. The user may lack the willpower to stop using psychedelics. The sense of being in a higher state or in conversion with a higher power can be very attractive. Some users, on the other hand, have an experience which is terrifying and they never want to use psychedelics again. Long-term use of psychedelics may lead to flashbacks and other problems. For help with an addiction to psychedelic drugs, contact us today.
Northeast Addictions Treatment Center is a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center in Quincy, Massachusetts. Our team has been helping individuals with Drug or Alcohol Addiction live a life of Recovery since 2016.
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