The effect of hallucinogenic drugs

Psychedelic drugs have remained popular in the United States since first achieving widespread recognition in the 1960’s with the counterculture movement. In 2017, for example, hallucinogens as a class were reported the third most common drugs used by those aged 12 and older- surpassed by only marijuana and alcohol. (1)

While many perceive hallucinogens as having only short-term effects, the reality is that they have the potential to cause many long-term negative effects in users.

Here we take a look at some of the long-term effects of hallucinogenic drug abuse.


The term “flashbacks” refers to the phenomenon of experiencing a reoccurrence of certain A woman ponders the effects of hallucinogenic abuseparts of a psychedelic trip without taking any drugs. These symptoms can include hallucinations, visual disturbances, and other symptoms associated with a hallucinogenic experience.

This phenomenon is known as hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD), and can occur without warning days or years after last taking any hallucinogen drug. (2)

Persistent Psychosis

Another risk that comes with hallucinogen abuse is a syndrome known as persistent psychosis. Persistent psychosis refers to a continuation of the hallucinatory state long after drug use has stopped. (3) The mental problems associated with persistent psychosis may include symptoms such as visual disturbances, paranoia, disorganized thinking, and mood changes. (4)

Increased chance of mental health problems

The question of whether psychedelic drug use can cause mental health issues has long been debated since psychedelic use emerged in popularity. One study found that use of psychedelic drugs was directly correlated with an increased risk of mental health issues.

The study determined that subjects had three times higher odds of being admitted to a mental health hospital than those who had not abused psychedelic drugs. (5)

Some hallucinogenic drugs can cause tolerance

While most hallucinogenic drugs are not physically addictive, many have the ability to cause tolerance in users. Tolerance refers to the phenomenon of individuals needing to take more of a drug to achieve the same effects. For example, LSD users have been shown to develop tolerance to the drug after repeated use. (6)

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Potential to have serious long-term consequences from behavior

Once hallucinogenic drugs have been ingested, the user may have little or no control over the experience in which they are then subjected to. In some cases, these experiences can be incredibly frightening causing the user to have erratic behavior. These are known as “bad trips”, and are unavoidable in some cases. In some cases, acts of violence, accidents, suicides, and long-term legal trouble are all possible outcomes of having a bad trip.

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.