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Hallucinogens

Abstract

Hallucinogenic substances extend back into pre-history as religious sacraments, as shamanic medicines, and as part of some tribal rituals, but the reader is likely most familiar with their recreational, illicit use. Since the most potent hallucinogen, lysergic acid diethylamide, “escaped” the research laboratory and fueled, starting in the 1960s, a popular movement of awareness about the potentials for hallucinogen intoxication, “modern” societies have resisted their acceptance. Despite prohibition, some 35 million Americans are estimated to have tried a hallucinogen at least once in their lifetime and approximately 4 million are active users (at least one use in a year); yet less than 17,000 emergency room visits per year are associated with hallucinogen use. This chapter reviews basic pharmacology, including psychological and physiological effects, and then presents the most common hallucinogen use disorders (with assessment, differential diagnosis, and treatment options) that are likely to be encountered by medical and allied health care providers. The chapter concludes with a brief update on research suggesting that hallucinogens may assist in recovery from other substance abuse and dependence, and a caution for current research to avoid the methodological flaws and excesses that took place some 40–50 years ago.

Keywords

  • Hallucinogen
  • Entactogen
  • Dissociative anesthetic
  • Indolealkylamine
  • Phenylalkylamine
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide
  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder
  • Religious use

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The authors greatly appreciate the editing assistance of medical student Sean Doherty of Cardiff University School of Medicine.

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Halpern, J.H., Suzuki, J., Huertas, P.E., Passie, T. (2010). Hallucinogens. In: Johnson, B. (eds) Addiction Medicine. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0338-9_54

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