Dissociative Anesthetics

Dissociative anesthetic is a type of hallucinogen, known for altering a person’s perception and causing out-of-body experiences. Many hallucinogenic drugs can lead to hallucinations, but that is not always the case with dissociative drugs. In addition to producing mind-altering effects and feelings of detachment or dissociation from oneself and the world around, use of dissociative drugs can also result in numbness, memory loss, physical and psychological distress, and changes in sensory perceptions.

How dissociative drugs work

Dissociative drugs work by blocking signals to the conscious mind. Often taken to escape one’s surroundings and the reality of life, dissociative drugs work by affecting the brain chemical glutamate, which is responsible for learning, memory, emotion and pain perception.

Following are the most commonly abused dissociative anesthetic drugs:

  • Phencyclidine (PCP): It was originally prepared for use as an intravenous anesthetic. However, due to its side effects, medical professions stopped using it. Now, it is prepared illegally and is available in the form of powder, pill or liquid. Some of its street names include “Angel Dust,” “Hog,” “Wack,” and “PeaCe Pill.”
  • Ketamine: Primarily used in veterinary medicine, ketamine was first used as an alternative to PCP. Due to its side effects, the drug was regulated to animals as an anesthetic. Ketamine is known by many names, including “K,” “Special K,” or “Vitamin K” and is used as a date-rape drug.
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM): It is a common constituent of many cough medicines. When consumed as prescribed, this drug is safe. However, when taken in large doses, it can produce a dissociative experience.

Dissociative drugs: side effects

The effects of dissociative anesthetic drugs vary as per the type and the amount of the drug dosage; when consumed in higher doses, these drugs can cause physical as well as psychological distress.

Following are some of the side effects of dissociative drugs:

  • Sedation
  • Euphoria
  • Trance-like state
  • Dissociation from environment
  • Aggression
  • Amnesia
  • Slurred speech
  • Agitation/violence
  • Dilated pupils
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Numbness
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

Following are some of the side effects of consuming dissociative anesthetic drugs in high doses:

  • Memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme panic
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Exaggerated strength
  • Aggression
  • No reaction to pain
  • Increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and body temperature

In addition to short-term side effects, abuse of dissociative drugs can also cause long-term side effects, including anxiety, depression, memory loss, weight problems and speech problems.

Dissociative drugs: specific side effects

Each dissociative drug has specific side effects. Following are some of the side effects specific to the type of dissociative anesthetic drug:

  • PCP: Muscle contractions that can lead to bone fractures, muscle cell breakdown that can damage kidneys, coma, hyperthermia, death, usually by accidental fatal injury.
  • Ketamine: People have such an extreme feeling of detachment from their bodies that it is described as a “near-death” experience. This is called the “K-hole.”
  • DXM: High doses can cause respiratory distress and seizures. Cough syrup also contains antihistamines, which can increase a person’s heart rate.

Sometimes, these drugs can have long-term side effects, such as memory loss and depression, even if one has not consumed the drug in a while. Long-term use can also cause permanent health effects, including nerve cell damage.

Dissociative drugs abuse

Abuse of dissociative drugs can also lead to a host of problems, including mental health problems, physical health problems and changes in sensory perceptions.

Like many drugs, the “positive” effects of a drug lessen with time, which can lead a person to the path to abuse and addiction. Once dependent on the drug, a user is often too dependent on the drugs to perform daily life functions and may crave for more drug to feel the same effect (or even anything at all). The drug tolerance and dependence may also cause the users to seek the drug compulsively, sometimes to an extent that their whole life may revolve around it.

Given the discomforting and dangerous withdrawal symptoms and the possibility of a relapse, a person abusing the drug needs to seek professional help to be able to attain sobriety. Withdrawal symptoms depend on the substances abused, hence, an expert’s assessment of the severity of addiction can help him/her plan the treatment program accordingly.

Following are some of the withdrawal symptoms for PCP, ketamine and DXM abuse:

  • PCP: Weight loss, speech problems, low energy, other dangerous effects, such as seizures, coma or death
  • Ketamine: Agitation, confusion, psychosis, insomnia, fatigue, nausea, rage, loss of motor skills
  • DXM: Insomnia, restlessness, depression, diarrhea

Supervised dissociative anesthetic detox treatment at certified dissociative anesthetic detox centers can help ease the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and minimize the likelihood of a relapse.

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Treatment for dissociative anesthetic drugs abuse

Whether a person needs ketamine treatment, treatment for PCP or dextromethorphan addiction treatment, a comprehensive treatment for dissociative anesthetic drug addiction combines medically supervised detoxification treatment along with intense psychotherapies.

A medically supervised detox program works by clearing the body of all the toxins or abused substances, thereby, helping an individual benefit from the substance addiction treatments offered. During the detox process, patients are administered medications under supervision that helps reduce the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction is a psychological disease, and a person needs to learn to manage its effects. As part of the substance abuse treatment program, detoxification is combined along with medications and therapy sessions. Whether it is individual therapy or group therapy, a person learns the nature of addiction, how certain thought patterns can lead to certain behaviors, and the skills they need to avoid relapse and live a drug-free life.

It is also important that a person is treated for any co-occurring illnesses, such as depression. Without treatment for the secondary illness, a holistic recovery might not be possible. It can also increase the risk for a relapse.

Why choose Sovereign Health

Accredited by the Joint Commission, Sovereign Health offers excellent, evidence-based ketamine, dextromethorphan or PCP treatment options. At Sovereign Health of El Paso, Texas, our focus is on personalized care that addresses our patient’s needs and provides them the treatment for both primary illnesses as well as any co-occurring illnesses that they may have.

Our holistic approach to treatment differentiates us from the other behavioral healthcare providers. We also offer individually tailored treatment services, including individual, group, and family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, neurofeedback, and experiential therapies, such as expressive arts therapy. After the initial treatment, our patients are also encouraged to opt for our supportive care in the form of educational events, 12-step program meetings and more. This helps them stick to sobriety and avert the possibility of getting distracted from the recovery journey.

For more information on our holistic addiction treatment programs or to locate our state-of-the-art treatment centers near you, call our 24/7 helpline and speak with our admissions specialist. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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