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MDMA, cannabis, and cocaine produce acute dissociative symptoms

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Some drugs of abuse may produce dissociative symptoms, but this aspect has been understudied. We explored the dissociative potential of three recreational drugs (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), cannabis, and cocaine) during intoxication and compared their effects to literature reports of dissociative states in various samples. Two placebo-controlled studies were conducted. In Study 1 (N=16), participants received single doses of 25, 50, and 100 mg of MDMA, and placebo. In Study 2 (N=21), cannabis (THC 300 µg/kg), cocaine (HCl 300 mg), and placebo were administered. Dissociative symptoms as measured with the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale (CADSS) significantly increased under the influence of MDMA and cannabis. To a lesser extent, this was also true for cocaine. Dissociative symptoms following MDMA and cannabis largely exceeded those observed in schizophrenia patients, were comparable with those observed in Special Forces soldiers undergoing survival training, but were lower compared with ketamine-induced dissociation. Cocaine produced dissociative symptoms that were comparable with those observed in schizophrenia patients, but markedly less than those in Special Forces soldiers and ketamine users. Thus, MDMA and cannabis can produce dissociative symptoms that resemble dissociative pathology. The study of drug induced dissociation is important, because it may shed light on the mechanisms involved in dissociative psychopathology.

van Heugten-Van der Kloet, D., Giesbrecht, T., van Wel, J., Bosker, W. M., Kuypers, K. P., Theunissen, E. L., … & Ramaekers, J. G. (2015). MDMA, cannabis, and cocaine produce acute dissociative symptoms. Psychiatry research, 228(3), 907-912.

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