Dissociative Anesthetics Addiction Treatment

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Dissociative anesthetics drugs are a type of hallucinogens that were originally used for medical purposes in the early to mid-1900s to anesthetize patients during procedures and surgeries. These drugs act by interfering with the transmission of incoming sensory signals to the cerebral cortex and also by disrupting the communication between different parts of the central nervous system (CNS).

The term “dissociative” refers to the dissociation of brainstem functions from higher cortical areas, which are responsible for altering pain sensations and other stimuli during medical procedures. This dissociation is known to cause brief amnesia, hence, patients do not remember what specifically occurred during their surgery or procedure.

Ketamine and phencyclidine (PCP) are the main dissociative drugs that are abused as street drugs today. Dextromethorphan (DXM) is another dissociative drug that is used in over-the-counter cough suppressants and is often abused by adolescents.

Ketamine abuse

Ketamine is a tranquilizer, analgesic and dissociative anesthetic that is commonly used in surgeries and procedures for adults, humans and animals. It blocks the neurotransmitter glutamate at its receptor, resulting in a trance-like dissociative state. Originally used to induce anesthesia in soldiers undergoing procedures on the battlefield during the Vietnam War, the drug replaced the medical use of PCP in the 1960s.

Classified as a Schedule III drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), ketamine is still widely used in human and veterinary medicine. The drug is also popular as a street drug among partygoers and clubbers as it can be synthetically produced in a laboratory. Some of the common street names for the drug include special K, vitamin K, kit kat, cat Valium, etc.

Ketamine is odorless, tasteless and is available in the form of a clear liquid or a white crystalline powder. The liquid form of the drug is either injected or mixed with drinks. Due to its amnesia effects, this drug is also used as a “date rape” drug by sexual predators who slip it into their victims’ drinks to render them unconscious.

The powdered form of ketamine can be snorted, compressed into pills or used in intravenous injections when dissolved. Due to the drug’s potential to cause physical and mental harm, it is important for an individual to seek ketamine addiction treatment so that he/she may begin leading a healthy life again.

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PCP abuse

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a synthetic illegal substance available in a crystalline form and acts as an anesthetic. Developed originally as a surgical anesthetic in the 1950’s, this drug was never used as a medicine due to its severe negative effects such as anxiety, delusions and irrational thinking. Categorized as a Schedule II drug, PCP is known to produce hallucinogenic effects. This is because the drug blocks the activity of NMDA receptor antagonist in the brain, which, in turn, makes it more dangerous than any other categories of hallucinogens, such as ketamine.

Known by street names such as “angel dust,” “wack,” and “hog,” PCP is commonly used for recreational purposes and can lead a person to a trance-like state. Under its influence, the person begins to feel detached from the body as well as the environment around.

PCP can be abused in the form of a tablet, capsule or colored powder. In powder or liquid form, this drug can be abused by swallowing, snorting, smoking or injecting. Since PCP has a strong taste, individuals abuse it by consuming it along with herbs such as the leaves of mint or tobacco. At times, the drug is also applied to marijuana leaves to create a more potent effect.

Addiction to PCP is extremely dangerous. Its continued use over time can lead to the development of dependence and tolerance towards the drug. And, when one tries to quit using it, there are high chances of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help if one is addicted to PCP and wishes to attain sobriety.

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Symptoms of dissociative anesthetics abuse

The use of dissociative drugs may produce a wide range of symptoms as mentioned below:

  • Sedation
  • Euphoria
  • Trance-like state
  • Dissociation from environment
  • Aggression
  • Amnesia
  • Slurred speech
  • Agitation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Numbness

Effects of dissociative anesthetics abuse

Dissociative drugs such as PCP, ketamine and DXM disrupt the normal functioning of the human brain. When a person abuses these drugs, it disrupts the functioning of the brain chemical glutamate at N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors – on nerve cells throughout the brain. Glutamate affects an individual’s learning and memory ability, emotions as well as perception of pain by activating the pain-regulating cells outside the brain. The dissociative drug PCP also affects the functioning of dopamine, which, in turn, creates euphoria and rush commonly associated with many abused drugs.

Some of the common effects experienced by an individual due to dissociative anesthetics abuse are:

  • Numbness
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea/ vomiting
  • Changes in sensory perceptions
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and body temperature

When abused in higher doses over a long period of time, one can experience the following effects:

  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of memory
  • Physical and psychological distress
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Invulnerability
  • Aggression
  • Seizure
  • Sedation
  • Immobility

Abusing these drugs with high doses of alcohol or some other CNS depressants can lead to respiratory arrest, sometimes even causing death.

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Getting help for dissociative anesthetics abuse

Dissociative anesthetics are extremely addictive. And, when one tries to withdraw from them, one might experience a number of severe withdrawal symptoms. Some of these are:

  • Persistent speech difficulties
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Headaches and sweating
  • Coma
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Death
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased reflexes

It is important to seek immediate help from an expert if you or a loved one is addicted to a dissociative. Based on the severity of one’s addiction, one should join an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility. Once admitted the person will be administered a number of medications and be made to undergo a number of therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, group therapy, etc.

On successful completion of the program, the person is free to exit the rehab center but can continue taking peer support to ensure long-lasting sobriety.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

Sovereign Health’s treatment programs are carefully tailored to each patient’s unique needs so that our patients can receive the highest level of care possible.

At Sovereign Health, we begin the treatment process with a dissociative anesthetics detox treatment offered at one of our best dissociative anesthetics detox centers. We believe that the safest way to complete a detoxification treatment is in a supervised and safe environment to combat the physical addiction. And, that is what we are committed to offering at Sovereign Health. After the successful completion of the detox program, individuals are made to undergo an intensive outpatient or residential addiction treatment that includes counseling, therapy, support groups and education.

For any further information about our drug treatment programs, please feel free to call our 24/7 helpline number.