Dissociative drugs such as ketamine, PCP, DXM and salvia cause radical changes in a user’s perceptions of reality. The drugs can make abusers lose touch with themselves and their surroundings, causing them to behave in bizarre and potentially harmful ways. There is a great deal of confusion and mystery surrounding these drugs, so it is important to fully understand the effects they have on the brain to comprehend their dangers.
How dissociative drugs work
Dissociative drugs all work by distorting the brain’s ability to perceive time, colors, sound and self, though the way they achieve this varies by the drug (National Institute of Drug Abuse). Ketamine, PCP and DXM all interfere with the reception of a chemical called glutamate, which affects the brain’s ability to learn, remember, perceive pain and experience emotion. On top of this behavior, PCP also creates a euphoric “rush” by altering the brain’s use of dopamine. Salvia, on the other hand, is unique among dissociative drugs by targeting the kappa opioid receptors in the brain. No matter which parts of the brain the drugs target, however, their effects are all fairly similar and equally dangerous.
The effects of a dissociative drug high
Dissociative drug highs can be unpredictable in their onset and outcomes. The high will typically come within a few minutes of a drug’s application and last several hours or even days. Low doses typically cause feelings of reality distortion, floating sensations and a general detachment from the self. The drugs can also cause a wide range of unhealthy side effects, including numbness, disorientation, nausea, elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure.
High doses of the drug can cause stronger feelings of dissociation, but they will also have a more dangerous effect on the mind and body. Extreme dissociation can create severe psychological distress, causing anxiety, panic, paranoia, aggression and elevated feelings of strength and invulnerability. High doses of the drugs can also be very harsh on the body, causing dangerous increases to heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Extreme cases for various dissociative drugs include seizures, uncontrollable mood swings and complete psychotic breaks.
Long-term effects of dissociative drug use
The long-term consequences of many dissociative drugs are not yet known. However, studies have shown that prolonged PCP use will create a chemical dependence, requiring habitual use to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, headaches and sweating. Chronic PCP users will suffer a wide range of debilitating effects, including speech problems, memory loss, social anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
The effects of dissociative drugs can pose serious risks to a perpetual user’s mental and physical health. If you or someone you love has been abusing dissociative drugs, it is vital to create an effective treatment strategy. Call the Texas Substance Abuse Helpline at any time to take the first step on the road to recovery.