Psychedelic substances have been used for centuries in religious and cultural rituals, and more recently, they have gained popularity among recreational drug users who seek mind-expanding, perception-altering experiences. However, the illegal nature of psychedelic drugs poses serious dangers and risks, from legal consequences to exposure to fake substances. This article aims to dive into the various risks and dangers associated with illegal psychedelic use.
1. Legal Consequences and Law Enforcement
Possession, sale, or use of psychedelic substances like LSD, psilocybin (mushrooms), and DMT can result in serious legal consequences, including fines, probation, and even imprisonment. The criminal record that comes with a drug offense can also impact future employment, housing, and education opportunities. Those who choose to use these substances may also experience the constant fear and stress of being caught by law enforcement or being involved in dangerous drug-related situations.
2. Exposure to Fake or Adulterated Substances
The illegal market for psychedelic drugs frequently harbours unregulated and potentially dangerous substances, making it difficult for users to determine the purity and safety of the drugs they consume. Some distributors may sell fake substances altogether, which can contain unknown compounds and cause unexpected, harmful effects. One notable example is 25I-NBOMe, which is often sold as LSD, but has a much higher risk for overdose and can be fatal even in small doses.
Though the risk of overdose on classic psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD is considered relatively low compared to other drugs, using higher doses or mixing these substances with other drugs can lead to adverse effects and dangerous situations. Overdose symptoms can include extreme confusion, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, and seizures. Even when the direct consequences of overdose do not lead to death, users may still engage in risky, life-threatening behavior as a result of their altered mental state.
Although psychedelics are generally considered non-addictive, some users may develop a psychological dependence on the altered states of consciousness these drugs provide. Addiction can lead to negative life consequences, as users prioritize obtaining and using the drug over their daily responsibilities and relationships. Furthermore, using psychedelics as a means to escape reality or cope with emotional pain can exacerbate underlying mental health issues.
5. Mental Breakdowns and Psychosis
For individuals with a predisposition to mental health conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, psychedelic substances can trigger temporary or sustained psychotic episodes, such as hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. Even for those without a mental health diagnosis, the intensity of a psychedelic experience can lead to extreme anxiety, panic attacks, and profound negative emotions.
6. Unsafe Environments
Using psychedelic substances in an unsafe or unfamiliar environment can exacerbate the risks of a bad trip or accident. Environmental factors such as chaos, loud noises, and negative vibes can lead users to feel overwhelmed, fearful, or paranoid, which may result in impulsive behaviors and self-harm. Even in seemingly comfortable settings, unexpected events can quickly sour a trip and lead to dangerous outcomes.
7. Self-Harm and Accidental Injury
The perceptual and cognitive alterations of a psychedelic experience can lead to distorted or delusional beliefs, which may cause individuals to engage in risky or harmful behaviors. Numerous case reports have documented incidents of individuals harming themselves or others while under the influence of psychedelics, often as a result of attempting to escape perceived threats or as a manifestation of suicidal ideations.
To minimize the risks and dangers associated with psychedelic use, individuals should be educated about the potential pitfalls of illegal substances and consider alternative, legal avenues for exploring consciousness and personal growth. Moreover, those who choose to proceed with psychedelic use should prioritize harm reduction practices such as testing substances for purity, using in controlled environments, and seeking support from trusted friends or professionals to ensure the safest possible experience.