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Short-Term Effects of Dissociative Drug Use

Dissociative drugs can produce visual and auditory distortions and a sense of floating and dissociation (feeling detached from reality) in users. Use of dissociative drugs can also cause anxiety, memory loss, and impaired motor function, including body tremors and numbness.

These effects, which depend on the amount of the drug taken, are also unpredictable—typically beginning within minutes of ingestion and lasting for several hours, although some users report feeling the drug’s effects for days.

Low to Moderate Doses

  • Numbness
  • Disorientation, confusion, loss of coordination
  • Dizziness, nausea, vomiting
  • Changes in sensory perceptions (such as sight, sound, shapes, time, and body image)
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of detachment from self and environment
  • Increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature

High Doses

  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Physical distress, including dangerous changes in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature
  • Marked psychological distress, including feelings of extreme panic, fear, anxiety, paranoia, invulnerability, exaggerated strength, and aggression
  • Use with high doses of alcohol or other central nervous system depressants can lead to respiratory distress or arrest, resulting in death

In addition to these general effects, different dissociative drugs can produce a variety of distinct and dangerous effects.

  • PCP: At moderate to high doses, can cause a user to have seizures or severe muscle contractions, become aggressive or violent, or even experience psychotic symptoms similar to schizophrenia.
  • Ketamine: At moderate to high doses, can cause sedation, immobility, and amnesia. At high doses, users report experiencing terrifying feelings of almost complete sensory detachment likened to a near-death experience (called a “K-hole,” similar to a bad LSD trip).
  • Salvia: Users report intense but short-lived effects—up to 30 minutes—including emotional mood swings ranging from sadness to uncontrolled laughter.
  • DXM: Safe and effective as a cough suppressant and expectorant when used at recommended doses (typically 15 to 30 milligrams), DXM can lead to serious side effects when abused. Doses from 200 to 1,500 milligrams can produce dissociative effects similar to PCP and ketamine and increase the risk of serious central nervous system and cardiovascular effects such as respiratory distress, seizures, and increased heart rate from the antihistamines found in cough medicines