The Dangers of Misusing Psychedelics: A Guide to Potential Harmful Effects

The use of psychedelic substances, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and DMT, has long been associated with spiritual awakenings, creativity, and valuable therapeutic benefits. However, as with any powerful psychoactive substance, these mind-altering tools also have their darker side, particularly when misused or abused. This article will discuss five primary dangers of misusing psychedelics: bad trips, hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), schizophrenia, paranoia, and self-harm.

1. Bad Trips

One of the most well-known dangers of using psychedelics is the potential for a “bad trip,” which refers to an intensely negative and distressing experience while under the influence of the substance. This might include extreme paranoia, anxiety, intense fear, or overwhelming sadness. While many who have used psychedelics will experience a bad trip at some point, the potential for and severity of these experiences varies depending on multiple factors, such as the individual user, the setting, and the dosage ingested. It is important to practice harm reduction strategies such as “set and setting” – being aware of one’s mindset and ensuring a safe, comfortable environment – in order to minimize the risk of a bad trip.


Another potential danger is hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), a rare yet serious condition in which the visual disturbances experienced during a trip continue long after the drug has worn off. Although the exact cause of HPPD is unknown, it appears to be linked to repeated exposure to hallucinogenic substances. Symptoms can range from mild to debilitating and may include visual snow, floaters, halos around objects, and perception of patterns in one’s environment. There is currently no known cure for HPPD, although some individuals find relief through various treatments, such as counselling and lifestyle changes.

3. Schizophrenia

While it remains unclear whether psychedelic use can lead to the development of schizophrenia, multiple studies have indicated a potential link between the two, particularly in individuals who have pre-existing risk factors for the disorder. Research has suggested that substances like LSD can exacerbate the onset of schizophrenia in those who are already susceptible, leading to earlier manifestation of the illness. In cases where there may be a family history of schizophrenia or related disorders, it is essential to exercise caution and consider avoiding the use of psychedelic substances altogether.

4. Paranoia

Another common side effect of psychedelic use is paranoia. Although psychedelic-induced paranoia is typically temporary and subsides as the drug’s effects wear off, there are cases in which it can last much longer, even days or weeks after the substance has left the individual’s system. In extreme instances, this can lead to erratic and dangerous behaviour, as the affected individual may feel as though they are constantly being threatened or pursued. It is crucial to acknowledge and address any feelings of paranoia during a psychedelic experience, as well as to have friends or trusted individuals available to provide support if needed.

5. Self-Harm

One of the most severe potential dangers associated with psychedelic misuse is the risk of self-harm or suicide. Though relatively rare, there have been numerous cases in which individuals have engaged in self-destructive behaviour while under the influence of hallucinogenic substances, particularly during a bad trip. This could be due to a variety of factors, such as an inability to differentiate between reality and the altered state created by the drug, or the belief that one is trapped in an endless loop of suffering. In order to minimize this risk, it is vital to ensure that one’s surroundings are safe and trigger-free, and to have someone present who can provide care and support if needed.

In conclusion, while psychedelics offer a range of benefits and therapeutic potential, it is essential to be aware of and mitigate the risks associated with their use. By practicing harm reduction strategies and understanding the potential dangers of bad trips, HPPD, schizophrenia, paranoia, and self-harm, individuals can make more informed decisions about their psychedelic experiences and prioritize personal safety and well-being.

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