Are Psychedelics Dangerous?

Misconceptions About Psychedelics 

There is a common misconception that psychedelics are safe drugs. Many people believe that psychedelics are non-addictive, less harmful, and less dangerous than other drugs.  While it is true that psychedelics rarely cause physical dependence, addiction is possible and there are many potential physical dangers from psychedelic drug use.

Addiction is not the same as physical dependence. There is a psychological component to the disease of addiction, and it is possible to become addicted to drugs and behaviors that do not cause physical dependence. Psychedelic drug use can become compulsive and lead to the same unmanageability and consequences as other addictive substances.

Psychedelic drugs can cause major adverse psychological reactions in users. LSD, for example, can cause “Impulsiveness and rapid emotional shifts that can range from fear to euphoria, with transitions so rapid that the user may experience several emotions simultaneously,” which can lead to nervousness, paranoia, and panic reactions, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Short-term physical effects can include increases in body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Effects of Long Term Usage

Long-term use of psychedelics can lead to major mental health consequences. Flashback are possible even after an individual discontinues using substances. Flashbacks are, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “recurrences of certain drug experiences. They often happen without warning and may occur within a few days or more than a year after drug use.

In some users, flashbacks can persist and affect daily functioning, a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD).” According to the National Institute of Health, HPPD is “defined as a long-lasting condition characterized by spontaneous recurrence of visual disturbances reminiscent of acute hallucinogen intoxication. Such experiences may take the form of various geometric shapes, objects in the peripheral visual fields, flashes of different colors, enhanced color intensity, trailing and stroboscopic perception of moving objects, after images, halos and macro- and micropsia. Furthermore, these episodes may persist for years.”

Symptoms of HPPD are sometimes mistaken for other neurological disorders, such as brain tumors or stroke. There is also the possibility of persistent psychosis, resulting in visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia, and mood disturbances that can persist even after cessation of drug use.

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