What is Ketamine?

Ketamine, or ketamine hydrochloride, is a non-barbiturate, rapid acting disassociative anesthetic used on both animals and humans. It also has been used in human medicine for pediatric burn cases and dentistry, and in experimental psychotherapy. It is being abused by an increasing number of young people as a “club drug”, and is often distributed at “raves” and parties.

What are some of Ketamine´s street names?

Some street names for Ketamine are: K, Ket, Special K, Vitamin K, Vit K, Kit Kat, Keller, Kelly´s day, Green, Blind squid, Cat valium, Purple, Special la Coke, Super Acid, and Super C. Slang for experiences related to Ketamine or effects of Ketamine include, “k-hole, “K-land”, “baby food, and “God”.

How is Ketamine being abused?

Ketamine is a liquid and the most potent ways of using it are by injecting it intramuscularly or intravenously. There is the risk of losing motor control before injection is completed. Also, Ketamine can be made into a tablet, or a powder by evaporating the liquid and reducing it to a fine white powder that can be smoked or snorted. Because of its appearance, Ketamine is often mistaken for cocaine or crystal methamphetamine. Some reports indicate that it is sometimes sold as MDMA (Ecstasy) and mixed with other drugs such as ephedrine and caffeine. “Cafeteria use” – the use of a number of hallucinogenic and sedative/hypnotic club drugs such as MDMA, GHB, LSD, and illegally used prescription drugs – is widely reported.

What are Ketamine´s effects?

Ketamine produces a dissociative state in a user. Effects can rage from rapture to paranoia to boredom. The user feels its hallucinogenic effects and experiences impaired perception. Ketamine commonly elicits an out-of-the-body or near-death experience. It can render the user comatose.

Ketamine is similar molecularly to phencyclidine (PCP – or “Angel Dust”) and thus creates similar effects including numbness, loss of coordination, sense of invulnerability, muscle rigidity, aggressive/violent behaviour, slurred or blocked speech, exaggerated sense of strength, and a blank stare. There is depression of respiratory function, but not of the central nervous system, and cardiovascular function is maintained. Since Ketamine is an anesthetic, it stops the user from feeling pain, which could lead the user to inadvertently cause injury to himself/herself. Ketamine may relieve tension and anxiety, is purported to be a sexual stimulant, and intensifies colour and sound.

The effects of a Ketamine “high” usually last an hour, but it can last for 4-6 hours, and 24-28 hours are required before the user will feel completely “normal” again. Effects of chronic use of Ketamine may take from several months to two years to wear off completely. Low doses (25-100 mg) produce psychedelic effects quickly. Large doses can produce vomiting and convulsions and may lead to oxygen starvation to the brain and muscles; one gram can cause death. Flashbacks may even occur one year after use. Long-term effects include tolerance and possibly physical and/or psychological dependence.