Teens Abusing Dissociative Drugs

PCP - Teens Abusing Dissociative Drugs

Teens Abusing Dissociative Drugs

Dissociative drugs are just the fancy term for substances such as PCP (phencyclidine) and ketamine. Both of these disassociate drug were initially developed for their use in surgery. Dissociative drugs distort your perceptions of sight and sound, but the reason they get the term “dissociative” is because they cause feelings of detachment or dissociation from your environment and from yourself. Dissociative drugs are not the same as hallucinogens and the effects they produce are not known as hallucinations. PCP and ketamine, the most common dissociative drugs, are known properly as “dissociative anesthetics.”

The most common dissociative drug that teens use, that even you may take on a monthly basis is dextromethorphan which is found in cough suppressants at your local drugstore. When cough suppressants with dextromethorphan are taken in high doses they can produce effects very similar to their more potent sister drugs PCP and ketamine.

The ways that dissociative drugs work are by altering the distribution of the neurotransmitter glutamate throughout the brain. Glutamate has a lot to do with the perception of pain, your responses to your environment, and your memory. PCP is considered the poster child for dissociative drugs and the effects it produces widely apply to ketamine and dextromethorphan too.

So what does this have to do with teens abusing dissociative drugs? Well, teens can easily get their hands on dissociative drugs through cough suppressants and believe it or not, while it may not be as easy, can get their hands on ketamine too. The most popular dissociative drug that teens are abusing is dextromethorphan which you can find in Vicks and other name brand cough medicines and it’s over-the-counter too.

According to statistics in 2008, it was found that one in 10 American teens had abused products with dextromethorphan known to them as DXM. This makes a dissociative drug more popular than other illicit drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and meth. Does this mean you should never use cough syrup? No. Taking products with DXM in them is totally safe unless taken in large doses.

So teens are abusing dissociative drugs, but why?

  • For one, a dissociative drug such as DXM is easy for them to get. There are numerous amounts of over-the-counter drugs that contain DXM. Teens are abusing dissociative drugs not even knowing exactly what they are. All teens know is that the DXM in cough syrups and even more commonly, oral tablets such as Coricidin, are making them “high.”
  • Secondly, teens are abusing dissociative drugs because it is cheap. Compared to buying a small amount of cocaine for a little over 50 dollars, teens can abuse dissociative drugs for 5-10 dollars. It is easy to support a DXM habit when it is as cheap as cough syrup.
  • Thirdly, teens are abusing dissociative drugs because there isn’t as much risk involved. Not only is it more expensive to seek out other illicit drugs such as cocaine or meth, it is also more dangerous. For teens, it is safer to walk into a drugstore than it is to go to a street corner or dealer’s house.
  • And lastly teens are abusing dissociative drugs such as DXM because they think it is safer than doing drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or meth. This is incorrect unfortunately but because they aren’t getting the drugs from the street corner and DXM is legal and also a brand name medicine, it seems safer for teens to abuse.

There are a few other reasons teens are abusing dissociative drugs such as its popularity among the younger population and also the ability to keep it a secret from their parents. This makes for the high numbers of teens who are abusing DXM. This DXM use should be taken seriously because it can be a sign that a teen is willing to take other more dangerous drugs and also that they may want to get their hands on more serious dissociative drugs such as PCP and ketamine.

Either way, dissociative drugs being abused by teens has been a problem and continues to be one not only for themselves but also for their parents.








Hallucinogen is the name of a class of drugs with psychoactive effects. They cause change in perception, thought, and emotion. They are not physically addicting. Here are the most common hallucinogens:

Hallucinogen: LSD

LSD is a hallucinogen that can distort reality and cause hallucinations. Known as “acid,” LSD is a semisynthetic substance. It is known for its psychological effects. LSD is not physically addictive, and has a low toxicity in small doses.

LSD’s psychological effects vary from person to person depending on dose, age, and life experience. Most users experience strong sensory and visual distortion. Colors may seem brighter, patterns could seem to “breathe” and users can experience an altered sense of time. LSD may also impair judgment and the ability to perceive danger, so accidents on LSD are common, sometimes even fatal.  An LSD trip can last up to 12 hours and have long term emotional and psychological effects. Some users report having “acid flashbacks” for months or years after taking the drug. Flashbacks are a recurrence of some part of the experience of the trip, without having taking the drug again. A small percentage of LSD users experience what is known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder.  People suffering from this syndrome experience flashbacks that are persistent, instead of momentary.

Hallucinogen: Ketamine

Ketamine is a hallucinogen used in both human and animal medicine. Usually, it is combined with a sedative and used as an anesthetic. It is also used in emergency medicine as an analgesic (pain killer) and as a treatment for bronchospasm. New studies suggest that Ketamine may be useful in treating psychological disorders such as bipolar disorder. Ketamine is similar to PCP in that they both cause a dissociative state.

The effects of the hallucinogen ketamine use vary with the dosage of ketamine used. In small doses, ketamine use causes a mild, psychedelic euphoria similar to the effect of ecstasy. At high doses, ketamine use can trigger what is known as a “k-hole” effect. A k-hole is the point when the user loses grasp of all his or her senses. There is a complete separation of mind and body. Most users will feel extreme disorientation and experience vivid hallucinations. They will be unable to move or speak at this point.

Hallucinogen: DMT

DMT, or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a naturally occurring hallucinogen. It is derived from certain plants. Modern formulations of DMT are usually in the form of a crystalline powder which is smoked or injected. When DMT is combined with an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor), DMT is orally active and can be ingested by mouth.

DMT use results in a short, intense psychedelic high.  When DMT is smoked or injected, peak concentrations of the drug occur immediately and last about 10 minutes. When the hallucinogen is combined with an MAOI, the MAOI prevents DMT from being broken down in the digestive system, so it can be taken orally and is also more potent. Oral ingestion of DMT produces a long lasting (over 3 hours) psychedelic experience.

DMT causes intense visuals, euphoria and hallucinations. As with most hallucinogens, the psychological effects of DMT drug abuse can be damaging. It can cause overwhelming fear and inability to distinguish reality. DMT is more potent than other hallucinogens, so DMT drug abuse can have more intense psychological effects. DMT can also trigger latent mental illness in someone who is already predisposed.