What is a Dissociative Drugs?
Dissociative drugs (also known as ‘dissos’) are substances that disconnect one’s first-person experience from reality. They deconstruct the concept of “self” and change one’s perception of reality.
Some dissociatives consistently produce enlightening and enjoyable states, while others produce powerful hallucinogenic experiences that are almost always terrifying and traumatizing.
The effects of these substances vary depending on the dose and substance — at times, users feel as if they’re outside their bodies as a detached observer; at other times, they’re injected into what appears to be an entirely different reality.
Dissociative drugs have opposing effects: they are both stimulating and sedative, neuroprotective and neurotoxic, addictive and anti-addictive, and have both addictive and anti-addictive properties. The effect is largely determined by the drug used, how frequently it is used, and in what dosage.
How Do Dissociative Drugs Work?
The majority of dissociatives produce the majority of their psychoactive effects by blocking the NMDA receptors. This is the primary mode of action for DXM, PCP, ketamine, nitrous oxide, MXE, xenon gas, and many other drugs in this class.
Very high doses of classic psychedelics, such as LSD, 2C-X compounds, DMT, and psilocybin, can also cause dissociation via the 5HT2A receptors — but this experience is very different from dissociation caused by NMDA receptor antagonism.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Dissociatives?
Most conventional dissociatives (ketamine, PCP, DXM, N2O) do not have long-term side effects after a single dose (when used responsibly).
Users frequently report feeling depressed or having memory and concentration issues immediately following use, but these effects usually fade after a few days. This effect lasts the longest when using PCP, MXE, and various analogs. N2O and xenon have the shortest residual effects of any of the elements.
Long-term consequences are more likely with habitual use of dissociative drugs.
The key to using dissociatives safely is to take them in moderation — there are no exceptions here.