Dissociative drugs or Hallucinogens

Published on: 6th October 2016

What Are Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs?

The term Dissociation refers to one of the ways which our mind copes in situations with too much stress to handle, particularly following traumatic events. This in general, can be used to describe scenarios or experiences where you may feel disconnected in some way from the entire world around you or from your own self.
Dissociative drugs or Hallucinogens

Why Do People Take Hallucinogenic or Dissociative Drugs?

Most people go through this surprising phenomenon of our minds as a natural response to trauma which can’t really be manipulated. It can either be a form of reaction to a certain traumatic event which occurred years back or as a result of an ongoing upheaval and physical or emotional abuse. Moreover, bit deviating from the exact point, some people mind tend to get dissociated purposely to calm themselves down on focusing on a certain task or else as a part of a religious ritual. Some of these techniques are even practiced in Yoga and meditation.

Moving on to the pathological aspect of this, when dissociation goes beyond a certain level which tends to disrupt the quality of life, it is known as a Dissociative disorder, characterized by an involuntary sensation of escaping from the reality associated with a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory.

How Widespread Is the Abuse of Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs?

With a significant female predominance, individuals of all age groups, races and socio-economic backgrounds can get affected by these dissociative disorders, if corresponding etiology hits somewhere in life. Mostly occurring as a result of some sort of an emotional, sexual or physical trauma during childhood or natural disasters (Tsunami, earth quakes, warfare) some people can get related features, even as a symptom of underlying mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia , Bipolar disorder, Borderline personality disorder or Post traumatic stress disorder . Moreover, certain drugs, medication and alcohol withdrawal are also known to cause dissociative disorders, depending on individual’s nature.

Common Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs

  1. Ketamine, A dissociative anesthetic agent which interrupts the perception of vision and hearing, thereby producing a sensation of detachment from the surrounding environment and people around. In the field of therapeutic medicine, this drug is used in the treatments of battlefield, burn or radiation injuries or children who have side effects with other anesthetic agents, since it does not own a deep sedative effect like most other drugs. In addition to sedation other common physiological effects of Ketamine include Amnesia, tachycardia, flashbacks and delirium.
  2. Nitrous oxide- Mainly classified under the group of 'dissociative anesthetic' agents, this exists in the form of a gas, also referred commonly as the laughing gas. Nitrous oxide owns a special ability of creating a dissociation of the mind- a sense of floating) associated with distorted perceptions and visual hallucinations. The main mode of admission includes inhalation, typically by a discharging nitrous gas cartridges) into another object like a balloon or straight into the mouth. Inhaled agent will produce a rapid rush of euphoria or a sense of wellbeing, 'floating' or excitement for few minutes. Other terms- Laughing gas, nitro, N2O, NOS, Nangs, whippet, hippy crack, buzz bomb, balloons.
  3. Alcohol - In the chemical field, alcohol refers any organic compound in which a hydroxyl functional group (–OH) is bound to a saturated carbon atom. Alcohol is known to interfere with the communication webs of the brain, resulting in altered moods and behavior and difficulty in coordination. Owing to lots of negative side effects, this is widely used in various types all over the world, due to pleasure effects like hallucinations and delusion with euphoria.
  4. Tiletamine - A dissociative anesthetic agent and a NMDA receptor antagonist which is chemically similar to Ketamine. Mainly used in the veterinary medicine, some people tend to use them illicitly, due to possible pleasure effects similar to that of Ketamine.
  5. Marijuana - Also known as Cannabis, this is used as a drug for the treatment of psychosis, in some countries. Its main mental and physical effects include "high" and "stoned" sensations, an altered levels of perception, euphoria and increased appetite. Some people may also experience short-term memory loss, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety. This should be used really carefully since it can give rise to addiction, ultimately causing withdrawal symptoms which can be life threatening.
  6. Amphetamine - A central nervous system stimulant, used mainly in the treatment of treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity. However, recreational doses mainly include much higher concentrations than normal therapeutic doses and mostly used over the counter for depression, since it is known to be giving pleasure features such as euphoria, feeling of wellbeing etc. However, increased doses can definitely be fatal, so should be used cautiously.
  7. Dextromethorphan - Commonly used as a cough suppressant it also owns sedative, stimulant and dissociative effects in addition to common side effects in lethal doses including severe dizziness, anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, confusions and hallucinations.
  8. MK-801 - Also known as Dizocilpine, this drug acts as a potent anti-convulsant with possible dissociative and anesthetic properties, but not widely used clinically due to the risk of brain lesions. With most features similar to Ketamine, this is less used in medicine due to harmful side effects.
  9. PCP - Owing to several street names such as Angel Dust, PeaCe Pill, Hog, Lovely, Wack, Ozone, Dust, Embalming Fluid, Rocket Fuel; Supergrass and Killer Joints, this was initially developed as an intravenous anesthetic agent, but later pulled out of therapeutic medicine due to its side effects such as hallucinations, delirium and mania.
  10. Salvia - Developed from a psychoactive plant and possibly induce altered visions, hallucinations and other abnormal spiritual experiences. Street names - Sage of the Seers, Diviner's Sage, Magic Mint, Lady Salvia, Purple Sticky, Shepherdess's Herb and Sister Salvia.
  11. Muscimol - Extracted from a special type of Mushroom known as Amanita muscaria, this displays sedative, hypnotic and dissociative psychoactive properties. Used in medicine for the treatment of Huntington's disease and chronic schizophrenia. This is also used as a psychotherapeutic tool either in the form of mystical or spiritual fundamentals.
  12. Ibogaine - A naturally occurring psychoactive substance extracted from plants of Apocynaceae family. Being a psychedelic with dissociative effects, is rarely used as a recreational drug due to increased mortality rates, documented recently.
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