Dissociative Anesthetics: Core Concepts

Course Description:
This course is part of our Core Concepts Series, which reviews potentially impairing drug classes from three scientific perspectives: Pharmacology, Forensic Toxicology, and Clinical Toxicology. A future supplemental series will add law enforcement and DRE perspectives for each drug class as well.

The term “dissociative anesthetics” refers to a class of drugs that result in a dissociation between the mind and the body. This drug class is relatively small but includes some important drugs in forensic science, like phencyclidine (PCP), ketamine, dextromethorphan. Dissociative anesthetics share a core feature of blocking NMDA receptors, but otherwise have diverse pharmacological effects. Although they may be abused recreationally, this class of drugs includes therapeutics with application in anesthesia, psychiatric treatments, and even cough suppression.

This course will begin with the pharmacology of the dissociative anesthetics, reviewing the typical effects of this drug class and how they interact with receptors in the nervous system. The forensic toxicology lecture will then review expectations regarding dissociative anesthetics in forensic casework and related topics. The clinical toxicology lecture will conclude the course by exploring the pharmacokinetics of dissociative anesthetics and clinical applications of these drugs.

Note: This course is best received by learners with a knowledge of basic pharmacology principles, but can prove beneficial to anyone responsible for interacting with drug impaired individuals or interpreting corresponding incidents.
Recommended Learners:
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Dr. Jessica Ayala

Dr. Jessica Ayala

Dr. Jessica Lynn Ayala is currently a Toxicology Supervisor at the Houston Forensic Science Center. Dr. Ayala has over a decade of toxicology experience working in public and private toxicology laboratories analyzing biological specimens for clinical, medicolegal, human performance, and drug facilitated investigations.
See full bio. 

Amy Miles

Amy Miles

Amy Miles is the Director of the Forensic Toxicology Program at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) and has over 20 years of experience in forensic toxicology.  Amy provides expert court testimony and interpretation of laboratory reports for coroners, medical examiners, attorneys, and law enforcement officers. See full bio. 

Dr. Ahmed Mostafa

Dr. Ahmed Mostafa

Dr. Mostafa is a board certified emergency physician currently practicing in the state of New York. He received his medical degree from Cairo University, Egypt, and has completed his residency training in Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar, as well as Crozer Chester Medical Center, PA.See full bio. 

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