Dissociative Anesthetics (PCP, Ketamine) are one of seven categories of drugs that Drug Recognition Experts look for in a driving under the influence evaluation.
This article discusses the effects and signs from use of dissociative anesthetic drugs.
Drug Recognition Experts are officers trained to determine if a driver is impaired by drugs. The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) looks for signs of drug use and impairment and then makes a guess about which type of drug a person may have used.
The DREs have divided commonly used drugs into seven categories. Each category of drugs produces different side effects and signs of use. The DRE will ask a driver to perform a series of tests, and then performs an evaluation of the driver.
The results of the test are used by the DRE to guess which type of drug a driver used (if they don’t already know from admissions or a search).
The dissociative anesthetic drugs include PCP, Ketamine, and Dextromethorpan.
What Behaviors of Clues Indicate Dissociative Anesthetic Use?
- Cyclic behavior
- Possibly violent and combative
- Increased Pain Threshold
- Difficulty in speech
- Blank stare
- Moon walking
- Very early angle of HGN on-set
- Warm to the touch
- Incomplete verbal response
- Confused, agitated
- Chemical odo
- Repetitive speech
What are the Signs of Dissociative Anesthetic Use?
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – Present
Vertical Gaze Nystagmus – Present
Lack of Convergence – Present
Pupil Size – Normal
Reaction to Light – Normal.
Pulse Rate – Up
Blood Pressure – Up
Body Temperature – Up
Muscle Tone – Rigid
Signs of overdose – Long, intense trip
Time of Drug Effects
- On-set: 1 – 5 minutes
- Peak effects: 15-30 minutes
- Exhibit effects: 4 – 6 hours
What is a Disssociative Anesthetic?
Dissociative anesthetics are a type of drug that works to block or reduce signals going to the brain, which creates a feeling of separation from oneself and environment. The drugs were originally created as general anesthetics for medicinal use. These drugs also produce hallucinations.
PCP is a schedule II controlled substance. Ketamine is a schedule III controlled substance. The reason these drugs are not schedule I substances is they have limited medical uses. The limited situations would involve times when a person needs an anesthetic but can’t risk depression of the heart function that accompanies opiate analgesics.
Dextromethorpan is not a controlled substance, as it is found in regular cough syrups.
Driving Under the Influence of Dissociative Anesthetic Drugs
It is against the law to drive under the influence of a dissociative anesthetic drugs. Simply having PCP or Ketamine in your system is not enough for a conviction – your ability to operate a motor vehicle in a normal manner must be significantly affected by the drug.
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