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
"date rape" drug.
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.
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:
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
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:
In addition, a person could potentially experience:
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:
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.