Home > The Complex Nature of Abused Substances and Getting Help for Addiction > Hallucinations
A hallucination is the experience of seeing or hearing things that aren’t there while awake and conscious. Hallucinations can be auditory, visual, and even kinesthetic, they can make a person feel things like being touched or pinched. They can trick a person into believing the unbelievable, or that they are in a place they are not.
Hallucinations can be intense or mild and range from severe visual and auditory experiences to mild sensations of feeling things or seeing things out of the corner of one’s eyes. Some hallucinations can be terrifying and scary, make a person become panicky and paranoid and even violent. Other times the hallucination can be warm, inviting, loving and beautiful, filled with amazing feelings and sites.
Hallucinations can cause people to do things they would otherwise not do. They may talk to themselves, remove clothing in public, become aggressive and irrationally violent towards people they care about. Additionally, if a person is having a hallucination when they are driving, at work, or doing something that is dangerous, they may put their own life at risk or those around them.
This disconnection from reality is dangerous and potentially fatal. Many people describe long lasting problems as a result of severe hallucinations which include a lack of empathy, motivation and emotions. They find it difficult to connect with friends and family. They are often anxious, nervous and paranoid due to enduring affects of the hallucination.
Some drugs are taken because they cause a person to experience hallucinations. LSD, some research chemicals, ketamine and other psychedelic drugs such as magic mushrooms are taken for these reasons. When under the influence of these drugs a person will often have an intense out-of-body experience where they may feel that they can see things previously hidden or even visualize things not possible, such as the inside of their own mind.
Hallucinations are very unpredictable and the experience cannot be determined by the drug type, strength or even set and setting. Each person who takes a drug to invoke a hallucination will experience something different than the next person because of differences in body chemistry, emotional state, previous drug taking experiences and environment. Each drug induced hallucination state will also be different from one time to the next.
Binging on certain drugs such as methamphetamine and crack cocaine can cause a person to enter a drug induced psychosis which often makes a person see and hear things that do not exist. They may lose contact with reality and may become fixated on a particular place or action and perform repetitive, acts such as sorting rubbish, pacing, searching for things. People who have an amphetamine and methamphetamine psychosis have been known to pull their hair, teeth and nails out as a response to delusions they are experiencing, they may become violent towards others, scratch and pick holes in their bodies to remove imaginary insects. Some people may also become irrationally violent and may be easily provoked into maniacal rage.
Alcohol-related hallucinations are a relatively common occurrence among people who are acutely intoxicated, or those who are undergoing withdrawals from chronic alcoholism. These hallucinations can be scary for both the person who is experiencing them and for those around the person affected. In the case of alcohol hallucinations, they will subside once alcohol consumption is discontinued or the withdrawal stage of detoxification from chronic consumption occurs. In some cases, the hallucinations will occur when alcohol is consumed at later times, but in the majority of situations this does not occur.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, or HPPD is a rare disorder that is caused by the ingestion of psychedelic substances. When some people take a hallucination producing substance, they are affected by the drug permanently. This means they will experience visual and aural disturbances for the rest of their life, until the hallucinations go away naturally. This disorder is not able to be treated with anti-psychotics, anti-depressants or other drugs, however they are often prescribed to reduce anxieties and stress associated with the condition.
When a person is suffering from hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, they will experience flashbacks to their hallucinations when under the influence of a psychedelic drug. A person may appear to be suffering from schizophrenia but they are aware that the hallucinations are not real. The quality of life of a person with this condition can also be affected to the point they may retreat into their own home, not socialize or even work. However, with conditioning therapy, a person can begin to ignore these hallucinations and try to establish their life again.
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