Ketamine, originally developed as an anesthetic for pets, is now used by humans and has gained popularity in recent years as a recreational “club drug” because of its euphoric qualities. Many people, especially teens and young adults, often use ketamine at bars, nightclubs, concerts and parties because its dissociative properties produce an “out of body” experience and a dream-like state of delirium.
People who use ketamine often experience intense emotional mood swings. They lose touch with reality – they see, hear and feel things that are not actually there. The drug causes these symptoms by disrupting the part of the brain that regulates sensory perception, hunger and other characteristics.
Ketamine is still used in medical care, particularly when other medications may be too strong for an individual patient, or for children who have an adverse reaction to other anesthetics. Sold under the brand name Katalar, it has been classified as a Schedule III controlled substance, which means it may lead to physical dependence, but users are generally unlikely to develop a strong psychological dependence.
Because ketamine is only available legally with a prescription, drug dealers have been known to burglarize veterinary clinics to obtain the drug. In some instances, ketamine is smuggled into the U.S. from other countries such and England and Mexico, where it is legal, inexpensive, and easy to obtain.
The high from ketamine usually lasts less than an hour, but many users will binge on the drug to get a longer-lasting effect. With extremely high doses, users have described having a “near-death experience” while using ketamine, and others say there were in a state of “utter bliss.” This effect is known in slang as the “K-hole.”
Ketamine is produced in several forms: as a pill, a powder that can be snorted or dissolved in water, or as liquid that can be injected. It has been used as a date rape drug in recent years. Because it is odorless and tasteless, it can be added to a victim’s drink without detection, and it can cause a loss of mobility and speech, making anyone who takes it extremely vulnerable.
The risk of overdose increases if other drugs or alcohol are being used at the same time as ketamine. The leading cause of death from ketamine overdose is respiratory failure.
Common side effects of ketamine use
Street names for ketamine
Ketamine’s street names often make reference to its initial intended use as an anesthetic for household pets.
Withdrawal symptoms from ketamine may include confusion, agitation, anger, hallucinations and insomnia. Patients who have a severe addiction may become emotionally unstable and exhibit violent tendencies – sometimes to such a degree that they must be isolated to protect themselves and others around them. It’s important to seek help at a professional rehab facility where you have clinical supervision during withdrawal to ensure a controlled, safe and comfortable recovery.