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Two teenage boys sharing drugs and getting high together.

How Do Hallucinogens Affect the Teen Brain

Hallucinogens offer an entryway into a different world. When it’s a good trip, the world is brighter, life is more beautiful and your teen may feel as if they’ve gained valuable insights into themselves and the universe.

But if it’s a bad trip? Your teen enters a prison of frightening hallucinations, paranoia and a complete loss of control. This inability to escape and a sense of truly losing their mind can even lead to suicidal thoughts or actions.

For your teen, there is a sense of excitement, adventure and beauty in taking hallucinogens. In reality though, hallucinogens pose a major threat to your child’s life and your family. Let’s take a look at what both the short-term and long-term effects of hallucinogens are on your teen’s brain and development.

What Hallucinogens Do to Your Teen’s Brain Chemistry

When ingested, hallucinogens have perception-altering effects on your child. This is because the drug acts on the prefrontal cortex’s neural circuits that rely on serotonin to regulate your adolescent’s mood, social behaviors, appetite, memory and normal brain functions.

Once hallucinations take over, your brain is unable to manage all these functions in a healthy and natural way. Instead, everything ends up being heightened and pushed to their limit.

While these drugs tend to have the same effects at a high level, they are incredibly unpredictable. This is because each trip your teen experiences depends heavily on how the drug mixes with their personality and current mood. Your teen’s first experience with hallucinogens may feel incredible and life-changing, but their next trip may leave them traumatized.

Short-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

When your teen starts to feel the effects of hallucinogens, they go through a temporary psychosis that can express itself in a lot of different ways.

Some of the most common short-term effects of these drugs includes impulsive behaviors, rapid emotional changes and mood swings, altered states of awareness and perceptions, hallucinations and claims of having out-of-body, spiritual experiences.

Other short-term effects include:

• Nervousness
• Agitation
• Paranoia and panic attacks
• Intensified feelings and sensory experiences
• Changes in perception of time

Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

Like many drugs, hallucinogens have addictive properties and can lead your teen down a path of dangerous and life-threatening substance abuse. Research has even shown that if your child is addicted to one type of hallucinogen, they are more likely to also have a tolerance for another type of hallucinogen.

When taken over long periods of time, your teen will be at risk of developing hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), where they’ll encounter persistent psychosis and flashbacks.

Other long-term effects of hallucinogens include ongoing paranoia, hallucinations, increased mood instability and even neurological issues like brain tumors and strokes.

Let Your Teen Recovery from Hallucinogen Addiction at Kokua Recovery

Your teen may have started using hallucinogens to experiment and explore, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are dangerous drugs. If your teen is taking hallucinogens regularly, they are changing the way their brain works, impairing key functions that help control emotions, decision-making and impulses.

At Kokua Recovery, we can help your teen recover and heal from hallucinogen addiction. We have years of experience providing dual diagnosis, trauma-informed and holistic treatment that gets to the bottom of your teen’s addiction and helps them develop healthy habits and passions that can replace their desire to use drugs.

If you’re ready to get your teen the support and care they need, contact our team today.

Ken Huey

Upon graduating from Purdue with a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy, Dr. Huey worked as a therapist, Clinical Director, and Business Development Director in residential treatment. Dr. Huey was always drawn to the large population of adoptees in residential treatment (he is adopted himself). He ultimately became convinced that this population needed specialty care and in November of 2006, Dr. Huey founded Calo. Calo grew to a 200 plus employee organization with about the same numbers of teen clients served each year. He sold Calo and retired in June of 2015. He came out of retirement in 2017 and founded Kokua Recovery, trauma-informed residential drug and alcohol treatment with sites in Colorado.

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