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 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.