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.