Dissociative anesthetics are a hallucinogenic type of drug. While many hallucinogenic drugs cause hallucinations, that’s not always so for dissociative drugs. These drugs are known more for how they alter a person’s perception and can cause out-of-body experiences.
The most common dissociative anesthetic drugs that are abused are:
- PCP: Short for phencyclidine, PCP was originally created as an intravenous anesthetic. However, due to its side effects, medical professions stopped using it. Now it is made illegally, and comes in powder, pill or liquid form. It has many street names, including angel dust and PeaCe Pill.
- Ketamine: Primarily used in veterinary medicine, ketamine first created as an alternative to PCP. Due to side effects however, it was regulated to animals as an anesthetic. Ketamine goes by many names, including “K,” “Special K” or “Vitamin K.” It also used as a date-rape drug.
- Dextromethorphan (DXM): An ingredient often found in cough medicines, at correctly prescribed doses, this drug is safe. However, when taken in large doses, it can produce a dissociative experience.
How Dissociative Drugs Work
Dissociative drugs work by affecting the brain chemical glutamate, which is responsible for learning, memory, emotion and pain perception. PCP also affects the brain’s reward center, causing a dopamine rush that gives people a euphoric high. The side effects of dissociative anesthetics can range based on how much a person takes. In general, when a person takes a low dose, they can experience:
- Trance-like state
- Dissociation from environment
- Slurred speech
- Dilated pupils
- Involuntary muscle movements
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
The side effects of higher doses of dissociative anesthetic drugs include:
- Memory loss
- Extreme panic
- Exaggerated strength
- No reaction to pain
- Blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and body temperature increasing to dangerous levels
Dissociative drugs also have long-term side effects, which include:
- Speech problems
- Memory loss
- Weight loss
- Depression and suicidal thoughts