The long term effects of hallucinogens on the brain

The long term effects of hallucinogens on the brain
Abstract

This paper explores the long term effects of hallucinogens on the human brain. It shows the affects of the hallucinogens, their consequences and the progress in studying the effects of these substances on the human brain. In the papers are also described mechanisms of action of chemical hallucinogens, physical symptoms that occur while taking LSD, symptoms of change of consciousness, symptoms of change in thinking, intelligence and memory and suggestibility.
Keywords: hallucinogens, human brain

The long term effects of hallucinogens on the human brain

The main property of hallucinogens is the ability to produce vibrant, diverse, mostly visual and auditory images of the events and objects that are not in the surrounding human reality, that is, hallucinations. For psychedelic hallucinations the characteristic phenomenon is the fusion of sensations coming from different senses.
Acute effects of hallucinogens include illusions - distorted or altered perception of real objects of the world. Illusions arise and comes the feeling of total change of the reality, change of the time, dreaming of getting 'another world' in the 'other dimension', and depersonalization - a sense of resizing your own body and the structure of the person’s ' I '. Receiving drugs in this group from time to time it is an unusual emotional state that can compare with a sense of discovery or religious revelation, as stated in Hallucinogens – overview of effects. And here there is not just a rise in mood (euphoria), but also a feeling of sudden enlightenment, discovery of truth, etc. For the emotions the person who took a hallucinogen, is also characterized by a sense of trust and he is open towards others.
Professors in hallucinogens have achieved significant progress in studying the effects of these substances on the human brain. Effects of hallucinogenic drugs are based on the fact that they alter the levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which acts as a "neurotransmitter" and regulates many of the human conditions, including depression, euphoria and appetite. Widely used in the present anti-depressants like Prozac reduce the activity of serotonin in the spaces between brain cells. Hallucinogens act on the brain is entirely different: their molecules are similar to serotonin, and if you enter them into the brain in large quantities, they increase the sensitivity to excess brain cells. The impact of hallucinogens on the brain can be compared with an increase in the volume on the radio: a man begins to hear the weak signals coming from distant stations. Hallucinogens can, for example, amplify the signals in the visual perception of a person, which leads to distortion of the shape and size of visual images. Instead of one object one can see a lot of copies. The perception of motion is also distorted. People begin to "hear" colors and "see" sounds, and feel a sense of going beyond their own body. According to research, a condition known among drug addicts as “bad trip” occurs when a person is too far detached from his body and begins to panic in complete disorientation.
Ecstatic visions (hallucinations and illusions) are not necessarily accompanied by positive emotions painted. Feelings can be coupled with anxiety, fear, hopelessness, reaching up to the level of panic reactions. In general feelings experienced after taking drugs of this group is absolutely individual. It is proved that they depend on the particular structure of unconscious mental processes. As in a dream, there may be images and symbols that were forgotten by a person with repressed emotions. It is proved that under the influence of drugs of this group of people of different cultural traditions have different visions for the content. Experiments of the 60-ies, showed that the 'visionary', and an external observer (a doctor, a shaman, or just a partner to receive drugs) are able to 'send' intoxication and edit images, which sees the dreamer.
Generally, people under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs are extremely impulsive. Suggestion in this state of thought and action will define ('program') human behavior much longer period than, for example, hypnosis. Mechanisms of action of chemical hallucinogens.
Since the mid 50-ies scientists realized that LSD and similar substances, violate the portion of the electromagnetic pulse transmission between nerve cells, which is linked to neurotransmitter serotonin. These drugs belong to the chemical class of indoles. The similarity of their chemical structure to serotonin, prompted researchers to the assumption that drugs can mimic serotonin, and paradoxically, activate serotonin receptors in brain nerve cells, as described in What is LSD?.
Already in the 90s it was observed that envelop the indoles serotonin receptors and that the strength and speed of this process depends on the power of a hallucinogen. However, this theory is not a proven fact. Thus, it is difficult to explain the action, for example, the same mescaline. By its chemical nature, it is more like amphetamines than indoles, but unlike other amphetamines mescaline - a powerful hallucinogen, the effects virtually indistinguishable from LSD.
Moreover, mescaline and LSD are cross-tolerance. This term means the following. After taking LSD man for the emergence of hallucinations requires a much larger dose of mescaline than before taking LSD, and vice versa: after taking mescaline - a large dose of LSD. Perhaps not the peyote and one of its decay products is also able to envelop the serotonin receptors. However, it is also only an assumption.
Serotonin is located in each cell of the brain. It is known that it plays a critical role in shaping the emotional background of our behavior. But this knowledge can be explained only by the emotional part of the entire spectrum of the drug. The very same mechanism of hallucinations, as well as areas of the brain involved in this, to the science are still unknown. Many disputes about LSD were conducted around the side effects. To date, it is believed that LSD induces changes in human chromosomes, violates the hereditary information in the nuclei of blood cells. These data were obtained 'in vitro' and are based only on laboratory experiments. LSD is artificial madness. Psychologically similar phenomena and chemical mechanism of action are different.
LSD is the most powerful among the known hallucinogenic drugs. Even very small doses can cause mental change, as stated in the Effects of LSD on the Brain. Reagent LSD is swallowed or injected intramuscularly or intravenously. From the method of introduction depends only on the offensive desired effect. (It is pure LSD.)
Physical symptoms that occur while taking LSD almost always:
Sympathetic response - increased heart rate, rise in blood pressure, dilated pupils, difficulty of focusing vision on certain subjects, thick sticky saliva, sweating, lifting the hair on the body, turning blue hands and feet, constipation and fever by reducing the peripheral arteries. The reaction - slow heart rate, decrease of the blood pressure, tearing, salivation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting. Both of these reactions may be interspersed, but usually dominated in either one or another point. Emotional symptoms are the first. For most healthy subjects, taking the average doses of LSD is characterized by euphoria, that is, the various manifestations of happy or elated. A person can be aware of such a mood as lively as a sense of serene calm, like an overwhelming joy. However, at higher doses increases the propensity to change moods and negative emotions. During a 'trip' can appear anxiety that then turns to panic. Or be 'calm' or 'empty' sadness (depression), followed by thoughts on the pointlessness of existence. Such experiences may be accompanied by aggression, hysterical reactions and cries. In general, the reaction of the locomotor apparatus in drug use would be consistent emotional state. Man is able to laugh without reason, to move or go for someone with his fists for no good reason. During the LSD - 'trip' a person has almost any known psychiatric pathological emotional state: from the pronounced mania to deep depression. At exactly what gets people after taking the drug, depends on the individual characteristics of its nervous system and the willingness of those around during the 'journey'.
Sexual symptoms. Most often, regardless of emotional state, sexuality is inhibited. It seems that for the person nothing is less interesting than sex. In practice the whole 'trip' is focused on the intensity of sexual desire and fantasies. In this case, they are strange and unusual nature - tend to be associated either with sexual abuse, or take the form of 'mystical' sex - the satanic witch coven, say, or fertilizing nature of universal scale intercourse. Symptoms of change of consciousness. Changes of consciousness itself in the psychiatric sense, that is, the appearance of stupor or coma were not stated. The person continues to understand the time and place of taking drugs. Apparently, it is possible to characterize the change of human consciousness during the 'trip' as qualitative. This state is very similar to the state of the dreamer. Keeping vigil, a man is dreaming awake. Even his electroencephalogram during this period is very similar to the corresponding EEG during active sleep (called REM, or the paradoxical phase, which devices indicate when a person sees a dream).
Symptoms of change in thinking, intelligence and memory. There is a kind of transformation of thinking. The logical and abstract thinking is possible, but requires a conscious effort visible. At the forefront of thinking are illogical acts. This thinking is like the type of dreams, which uses not words but images. Links (associations) between them occur without any logic, by chance, due to the apparent similarity of one image to another. Modern researchers would say that thinking during the LSD-'Trip' like a virtual way of thinking, or thinking through random-artifacts. Thinking through random association develops because of the feeling of interdependence of all objects we perceive. Patients in an attempt to retell the content of hallucinations 'buried' in detail and detail, and the events and objects surrounding reality are perceived as having equal-symbolic significance for the individual. Spontaneous (casual) relationship of visual images can make the mind totally unexpected and lead to sudden decisions, both external and internal problems of the individual.
Accidental coincidence of images can be seen as an intuitive insight that allows combining the hitherto inconsistent information from many different areas of knowledge. In the 'trip' most of these 'breakthroughs' thinking is the phenomenon rather than random order. Randomly interaction hallucinatory images are erroneous explanation of external events and can often result in 'traveler' to a state resembling the persecution mania, or megalomania.
The logic that is consistent, and thinking during the conversation slows down, intellectual capabilities 'Psychonauts' are sharply reduced. The memory of the sensations experienced during LSD-'Trip', almost entirely preserved. 'Forgetting' the contents of the session may be caused by direct suggestion by the presence of outside observers. The effect of this will be much more persistent than from hypnotic suggestion.
Suggestibility. Equivalence of objects and images during a session of LSD - is the inability to logically explain to people, to connect into a single semantic system of their own experiences. Chaotically by incoming images everything leads to a feeling that our patients describe as 'a lost opportunity to navigate in your own inner world', or simply - 'loss of self'. Changing perceptions is the essence of the visible effects of the drug. Receiving LSD distorts the work of all the senses: sight, hearing, touch and smell. A person also distorts specific inner sensitivity.

References

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NIDA InfoFacts: Hallucinogens - LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP (2010). Retrieved 10 August 2010, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/hallucinogens.html
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