Ketamine - Drug Addiction

This is a powerful drug which was designed to be used in veterinary medicine and to a lesser extent, in human medicine as well. However it has made its way onto the streets and into the clubs and has become a popular form of hallucinogenic drug for many people.

This drug causes an intense ‘rush’, altered perceptions and in many cases, an ‘out of body’ experience.

What is ‘ketamine?’ 

Ketamine is a form of general anaesthetic and is designed to be used for both animal and human surgery. It is mainly used in veterinary surgery as both an anaesthetic and a painkiller and has been around for the last 30 years.

It is synthetically produced and is only legally available to doctors and veterinarians but as with many drugs, it has been stolen for recreational use. Ketamine is sold on the streets, in night clubs or for use at home by people who enjoy its hallucinogenic effects.

Many users claim that it reduces body sensations and enables them to experience another form of reality.

What does it look like?   

The legal version of ketamine, found in veterinary clinics, is an injectable liquid. The illegal version, sold in clubs and on the streets is a powder which is inhaled (snorted) although there is a tablet available as well.

The legal version of ketamine is the ‘pure’ form of this drug whereas the ‘street’ version is mixed with other substances, for example ephedrine (a stimulant).

How is ketamine used?

It is either injected (liquid), taken orally (tablet) or snorted. It can also be added to marijuana or tobacco and smoked.

The liquid is the purest form of the drug which is then converted into a white, grainy powder for illegal use.

Ketamine is usually injected into a muscle as this is safer than injecting it into a vein. There is a risk of losing consciousness if it is introduced into a vein which is how an anaesthetic drug normally works.

Some people add the liquid to drinks as it dissolves easily and is preferred to injecting it.

What is its street name?

Ketamine is known by any of the following:

  • Special K
  • K
  • Vitamin K
  • Ket
  • Super K
  • Green

Who uses ketamine?

It is popular with clubbers, partygoers and recently, students, who find it cheaper and easier to obtain than other drugs.

How much does it cost?

It can cost around £10-20 per gram depending on which part of the country it is purchased in.

What are the effects of ketamine?

The effects will largely depend upon your age, body type, how much you have taken and when, the method of taking it (injected, smoked or snorted), how long you have been using it, and if you have taken any other drugs, e.g. alcohol.

Everyone is different when it comes to the effects of drugs such as ketamine but there are effects which apply across the board. These include hallucinations; a ‘spaced out’  sensation in which the user feels as if they are floating or are out of their body; altered perceptions; blurred vision; numbness.

The effects are very similar to those for LSD.

These effects are felt fairly quickly, usually within ten minutes of taking this drug. The first effect is that of a rush of energy or a feeling of euphoria. Some people find that it makes them feel sick or causes vomiting which can be dangerous.

Small doses tend to cause sleepiness, relaxation and introspection. It can be difficult remembering things or thinking clearly. Many users find that they become confused or are easily distracted.

Large doses result in a rapid heart rate, difficulty in breathing, a tendency to gabble words or unable to hold a conversation, lack of co-ordination and a failure to recognise their surroundings and/or other people.

There is also the risk of losing consciousness.

These effects can last around an hour. The ‘come down’ can involve problems with memory, anxiety and depression and ‘flashbacks’. Flashbacks are where someone experiences of taking a drug long after the effects have eased.

Is it easy to become addicted to ketamine?

You can become psychologically dependent on ketamine which leads to a tolerance to the drug. This means that you have to take ever larger amounts in order to get the same effects.

As far as we know there are no withdrawal symptoms from stopping taking ketamine.

What are the risks of ketamine?

The risks and effects are linked to the size of the dosage. The greater the amount taken the more intense the effects and the greater the risks.

Many people find that they are unable to move properly or stand up which can increase the risk of an injury. But ketamine acts as both a painkiller and an anaesthetic so someone might not notice that they had obtained an injury.

It can cause vomiting which is potentially dangerous in someone who is semi-conscious or disorientated. There is the risk of them choking on their own vomit.

Other risks include:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of memory
  • Visual impairment
  • Bladder and kidney problems

Another risk and one that may be more relevant for women is the risk of sexual assault. Ketamine can suppress body sensations and movement to the extent that you might be unable to fend off any unwelcome attention. It acts as a sedative which can leave you totally relaxed but vulnerable. It has been used as a ‘date rape’ drug so this is something to be aware of especially in clubs or at parties.

Other risks include mixing it with other substances, trying to drive or perform a complicated task whilst under its influence and overdose.

If it is mixed with amphetamines or ecstasy then it can raise blood pressure to a dangerously high level.

Too high a dose can affect the body’s nervous system to the extent that oxygen is prevented from reaching important areas such as the heart and lungs which results in unconsciousness and death.

As well as the physical risks there are also psychological ones such as paranoia, panic attacks, anxiety and depression.

Ketamine is a Class C drug.


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