The Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

The Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens | Renaissance Recovery
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By: Renaissance Recovery

Clinically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated:


Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

While using drugs like LSD and mushrooms is generally safer than harder drugs like heroin or methamphetamine, it is still important to be aware of the long-term effects of hallucinogens that can occur from using these types of substances.

Hallucinogens distort one’s perception of reality by changing the way the brain’s prefrontal cortex processes information. This critical area of the brain control conscious thought, perception, and cognition. Even short-term abuse of hallucinogens may result in temporary psychosis. The long-term effects of hallucinogens include a host of unpleasant possibilities. These include persistent psychosis as evidenced, wild mood discrepancies or variations, hallucinations, and irrational thinking.

Luckily, there are addiction treatment options and sober living homes for those who are dealing with addiction-related issues.

Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogen Abuse

Not only do users experience a myriad of disturbing effects from hallucinogens, but, if they continue using drugs, they will likely experience devastating consequences. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the following long-term effects have been linked to using classic hallucinogens:

Persistent Psychosis

One of the more troubling long-term effects of hallucinogens is varying levels of psychosis. In cases of persistent psychosis, there is a profound detachment from reality.  Users may experience wild mood swings, violent outbursts, emotional outbursts, and hallucinations that may seem all too real. Panic attacks are not uncommon and almost mirror the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, which includes hallucinations, delusional thinking, and abnormal behavior. These episodes can last for several hours up to many years, but such length is rare.

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) involves hallucinations that most people typically associate with drugs in this group. Things like seeing halos and trails attached to moving objects are very real side effects.  Other visual disturbances can include after images or ghost images, flashes of light, twinkling sparkles of light, and bolts of light or light trails. The symptoms of HPPD are sometimes mistaken for neurological disorders, like a stroke or a brain tumor: people who experience these symptoms know the experiences are imaginary, but they are disturbing nonetheless.


Flashbacks can become very problematic, especially for those dealing with personal trauma, abuse trauma, or PTSD. For people dealing with co-occurring mental disorders, professional treatment is highly recommended. Surprisingly, these flashbacks can occur long after a person has stopped using hallucinogens. Scientists have not been able to fully explain this phenomenon, but this is yet another example of the effects of hallucinogens. In short, there’s a possibility of users feeling as if they have used the drug even if they’ve been sober for a prolonged period of time. These flashbacks may take place for months or years after you’ve stopped using hallucinogens and might be triggered by fatigue, stress, trauma, use of other legal drugs or even when exerting yourself.

Amotivational Syndrome

Amotivational Syndrome manifests itself as apathy, passivity, and an inability to take interest in any activity whatsoever. In short, a total and complete lack of motivation, drive or interest in any form of exertion. Users suffering from this symptom appear to others to be socially withdrawn and lethargic.

Short-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

Along with these long-term effects, hallucinogens also lead to a number of different short-term effects of hallucinogenic drugs that can also happen. Unfortunately, these issues can lead to major problems and dangerous physical and psychological symptoms. Some of the common short-term hallucinogen abuse symptoms include:

  • Speech difficulty
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Severe depression or lethargy
  • Loss of memory
  • Violent behavior
  • Increased instances of panic
  • Impaired or total lack of concentration
  • Increased likeliness of fantasies or delusions
  • Unexplained behavior and other mental disturbances

Fortunately, the effects of hallucinogens usually subside once the individual stops taking the drugs. While there is the possibility of withdrawal symptoms when they stop abusing hallucinogens, a medically supervised detox program can help ensure a lower risk during the detoxification process. If hallucinogen use has become a problem for you or a loved one, it’s time to seek professional addiction treatment. While there is a difference between substance use and substance abuse, addiction treatment can help one to overcome the triggers that can lead to relapse. If in doubt, you should talk to the person about their addiction or substance problems.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with some sort of addiction issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our addiction rehab in Orange County to get the help you need.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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