Ketamine is a rapid acting anesthetic drug used mainly by veterinarians and sometimes in human surgery. It is also known as a dissociative anesthetic because it can make a person feel a sense of detachment, as if their mind is separated from their body.
Commercial ketamine is a liquid. The street drug is usually sold as a powder. For abuse purposes, the powder may be dissolved in a liquid, snorted, or smoked in a cigarette. Liquid ketamine is sometimes injected into a muscle. Injecting it in a vein causes rapid loss of consciousness. Ketamine dissolves in liquid and it is odourless and tasteless, allowing it to be slipped into drinks. Its sedative effects have been used to prevent victims from resisting sexual assault. For this reason, it can be referred to as a
Also Known As: big K, blind, breakfast cereal, cat tranquillizers, horsey P, K, keller, ket, ketalar, ketty, kit-kat, K-rod, lady K, special K, super K, vitamin K, squid, wonk
Category: Hallucinogens, Dissociative anesthetic
After taking ketamine the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream where it travels to the brain. In the brain, it acts by redistributing a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called glutamate. Glutamate is a type of neurotransmitter involved in memory, learning, the perception of pain and responses to the environment.
The speed at which ketamine reaches the brain varies greatly. After snorting the effects are usually felt within 1 to 10 minutes and can last for about one hour. When taken by mouth the effects are felt less quickly and may last up to four hours.
Will Ketamine Always Produce the Same Effects?
The effects of ketamine on a person are unpredictable. It is different for everyone. The way a person feels after taking ketamine depends on many factors:
- age and weight
- mood, expectations, and environment
- medical or psychiatric conditions
- the amount of ketamine taken (dose)
- how the drug is used
- how often and for how long ketamine has been used
- use of other drugs, including non-prescription, prescription, and street drugs
Ketamine is a dangerous drug that can cause rapid loss of consciousness if injected. It produces vivid dreams or hallucinations which may be intense and terrifying. Ketamine can also produce the sensation that the mind is separated from the body; this is called dissociation. When ketamine is used medically, dissociation is considered to be an unpleasant side effect. Drugs that prevent hallucinations are often given with ketamine when it is used in surgery.
Ketamine produces a drunken, dizzy feeling. Some people describe
"out-of-body"experiences and sensations of weightlessness. This experience is often described as being in or going through the
Short-term use of ketamine can produce many other effects:
- loss of coordination
- blurred vision
- inability to speak
- nausea and vomiting
- increased blood pressure and heart rate
- memory loss
- nose bleeds
- unpleasant taste
- decreased response to pain
In addition, a person could potentially experience:
- temporary paralysis (inability to move)
- incoherent or semi-consciousness
- respiratory depression
- severe rise in blood pressure
Ketamine can cause vomiting. Eating or drinking before taking ketamine increases the risk of choking on vomit. When taken in high amounts, ketamine may depress the central nervous system. This leads to slower breathing, seizures, and coma and may result in death. Taking ketamine with other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol is very dangerous and may result in death. If you think that a person has overdosed, contact emergency services immediately.
A person who shares drug supplies, such as needles and straws, can spread viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
When ketamine wears off the user may:
- feel anxious
- not recall what happened while on the drug (amnesia)
- have flashbacks for a long time after the effects of the drug have worn off
Recent studies and case reports have linked ketamine abuse to urinary tract and bladder problems such as difficult or painful urination, frequent/urgent urination, incontinence and severe bladder inflammation. In some cases, the damage has been irreversible. It is unclear how dose and duration of use affect the severity of these symptoms.
The extent to which ketamine may harm a developing fetus is unknown.
It is not known whether addiction or physical dependence to ketamine develops as a result of regular use. Tolerance develops to the effects of ketamine.