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The History & Dangers of Hallucinogens

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Hallucinogens have a long human history, in fact, they may be the oldest drugs known to man.  We’ve all seen the movies of tribal cultures deep in the jungle – they use hallucinogens for spiritual awakening.  It’s hard to imagine how we’ve gone from a species pulling hallucinogenic berries off a tree to the psychedelic drugs of today.

Hallucinogens have their place in human history as tools for religious rites and rituals.  Only really in the last 100 years has the study of hallucinogens been used to alter our consciousness for something beyond religious or spiritual purposes.  Some argue that it is still mainly used for those purposes today.

The truth is that we do many things to alter our consciousness.  We love watching certain sitcoms because they help us escape our own world into another.  We go to the movies for the same reason and some of us get lost in the fantasy world of Harry Potter or the Hunger Games to escape our day-to-day consciousness.  Reading, television, the movies, these are safe escapes that pose no apparent risk, except perhaps choosing a bad movie or poorly written book.

Hallucinogens on the other hand, although known to mankind for much longer than the world of Harry Potter, do pose significant risks.  Altered states of being, be it an altered state of cognition, perception or mood can be incredibly addicting and dangerous.  Drugs of incredible power used to create an altered state, like LSD or mushrooms, can be physically well-tolerated and yet are so dangerous to us that they ruin lives every day.

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We can tell stories about the effects of hallucinogens on families and communities, but the truth is you probably already know similar stories yourself.

Drug users often argue that hallucinogens offer an altered state that opens the mind to new possibilities.  This simply isn’t true!  In fact, hallucinogens modify the chemistry of the brain- a modification that research is just starting to discover that can be experienced through many other ways, such as contemplative meditation or yoga.  Yes, believe it or not, those possibilities already exist in your mind- and while hallucinogens may be a quick way to unlock those doors, hallucinogens have been likened to using explosives to open the doors instead of a long sail to the shores of possibilities.

The effect of that explosion? You never know what you’re going to get.  While you might feel euphoria after one use, after the other you may be depressed and despondent or even try to hurt yourself.  This makes hallucinogens particularly dangerous and there seems to be no consistency between uses and users.  At high doses and in conjunction with other sedatives, such as alcohol, hallucinogen usage can induce a coma.

Interested in finding another and safer way to reach euphoria? Hallucinogen treatment programs help patients deal with the physical side effects of hallucinogen usage, and help patients on a path to safer ways to alter their consciousness.  Don’t worry, we won’t make you watch “Dancing with the Stars” every night!

Destination Hope is a full-service drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment facility in Florida for women with substance abuse issues. If you or a loved one is having problems with drugs or alcohol, please call us today.

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