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Dissociatives (also referred to as 'dissociative anaesthetics') are a class of psychedelic drug. This class of drug causes people to feel separated or detached from their body or physical environment. Dissociatives can also cause hallucinations and other changes in thoughts, emotions and consciousness. They can be in the form of pills, powders, gases, liquids and plants. They are usually ingested via snorting, oral, intramuscular injection or inhaled.

When under the influence, people often report experiencing rapid, intense emotional swings and seeing images, hearing sounds, and feeling sensations that seem real but are not. While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens and dissociative drugs cause their effects are not yet clearly understood, research suggests that they work at least partially by temporarily disrupting communication between neurotransmitter systems throughout the brain and spinal cord that regulate mood, sensory



Short-term effects

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Cardiovascular irregularities that may include heart attack or complete heart failure
  • Hyperactivity
  • Weight loss
  • Cravings
  • Nausea
  • Muscle spasms

Long-term effects

  • Addiction
  • Severe dental problems
  • Delusions
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Anorexia
  • Problems thinking
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Other effects

Repeated misuse of prescription stimulants, even within a short period, can cause psychosis, anger, or paranoia. If the drug is injected, it is important to note that sharing drug injection equipment and having impaired judgment from drug misuse can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.


  • In 2020, 94,000 people aged 18+ received treatment for a stimulant addiction.
  • In 2019, 5.2 million people used cocaine, 2.5 million people used methamphetamine, and 5.1 million people
    misused prescription stimulants.
  • Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, an estimated 0.2% (or about 691,000 people) had a heroin use disorder in the past 12 months. §
  • In 2020, approximately 13,165 people died from an overdose involving heroin. §
  • The greatest increase in heroin use is seen in young adults aged 18-25. §


NIDA. 2018, June 6. Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts. Retrieved from on 2022, December 28

NIDA. 2018, April 16. Five million American adults misusing prescription stimulants. Retrieved from on 2022, December 28,treatment%20for%20a%20stimulant%20addiction.

2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Releases

Monitoring The Future Survey

CDC Wonder Database
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