Dangers of Hallucinogens: Ecstasy, PCP & Ketamine

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  • 0:01 Hallucinogenic Drugs
  • 1:17 Dangers of Ecstasy
  • 2:32 Dangers of PCP
  • 3:55 Dangers of Ketamine
  • 5:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

Hallucinogenic drugs cause severe distortions in perceptions of reality and pose special dangers for the user. This lesson explains the risks involved with the use of ecstasy, PCP, and ketamine.

Hallucinogenic Drugs

Have you heard of 'club drugs' or 'party drugs'? These are particular controlled substances that are popular among young adults. They are used mainly at concerts, in dance clubs, and at music festivals. They are often hallucinogenic drugs.

Hallucinogens are 'drugs that cause hallucinations, or intense distortions in the user's perceptions of reality'. They are sometimes called 'psychedelic drugs'. They affect the user's brain in a way that makes them see, hear, feel, taste, or smell things that simply aren't there. The result is sometimes compared to a dreamlike state.

Some hallucinogens are natural substances. For example, certain varieties of mushrooms can have hallucinogenic effects. Other hallucinogens are synthetic drugs, meaning they are artificial, or man-made materials. Some examples include ecstasy, PCP, and ketamine.

Let's follow Tess, our test subject, as she experiments with a few of these drugs. We'll take a closer look at the dangers of these synthetic hallucinogens.

Dangers of Ecstasy

One of the most popular street drugs today is ecstasy. It's also known as 'MDMA' and 'Molly'. It's a controlled substance, typically manufactured as a small tablet, with both stimulant and hallucinogenic qualities.

Ecstasy's effects usually last around four to six hours. During that time, the drug interrupts several of the brain's important jobs, such as regulating body temperature and telling the body when it's time to eat or sleep. Because of this, ecstasy users attending all-night dance parties sometimes suffer dehydration or heat stroke.

Other ecstasy dangers include:

  • Vision impairment or blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle cramping
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Long-term dangers include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Brain damage
  • Psychological addiction

Dangers of PCP

Now let's take a look at PCP. PCP stands for 'phencyclidine'. It's a dissociative drug intended to be used as a sedative and an anesthetic. Dissociative drugs cause the user to feel detached from his or her surroundings and sometimes have 'out of body' experiences. At high doses, dissociative drugs can also cause hallucinations.

PCP is usually sold on the streets as a white, crystallized powder that's sometimes called 'angel dust'. It also occasionally comes as a liquid or a tablet. Users typically snort, smoke, or inject the drug. It's important to note that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers PCP to be one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse.

Some specific dangers of PCP use include:

  • Violent or aggressive behavior
  • Inability to feel pain
  • Numbness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Nausea

Long-term dangers include:

  • Psychological addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Psychosis

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