What is Ketamine?

What is Ketamine

Ketamine | Dangers and Effects

In the 1980s, Ketamine began to be used as a highly sought after recreational drug.  Referred to as a Club Drug, we know, What is a Club Drug?, hang-on. What is Ketamine? Known as “K” or Special-K is in a classification with other drugs such as Ecstasy, GHB and Crystal Meth as a large number of club goers frequently use these drugs to “enhance” their clubbing experience.

Ketamine is sold as a dry, white powder or a clear liquid.  Powder is made from the clear liquid by drying the liquid out.  The residue from the drying process is then crushed and snorted in small doses.  It can also be injected or smoked with tobacco or marijuana.  Whether smoked or snorted, the euphoric effects begin immediately (within a few minutes) and usually last less than an hour. In large doses, Ketamine produces effects similar to PCP.  Users report feeling as if they are in a dreamlike state and experience hallucinations.  Users describe feeling as if they are drunk, stoned and tripping all at the same time. Ketamine drug addiction is possible through continued and sustained use.

Dangerous effects of Ketamine include the user being insensitive to physical pain. This could be dangerous if the person actually experiences a serious injury and does not seek treatment for the injury because they do not feel any pain and may not realize how serious the injury is.

As with other illegal drugs, it is difficult to determine what type of reaction a person will have to a specific drug.  Some users report having a bad reaction to Ketamine.  The drug can impair a person’s judgment and ability to drive and can also cause violent paranoia, agitation and confusion.  Users report being put in a state called a “k-hole”; where they become unable to communicate or move.  These users report “feeling far away from their body” and describe this “k-hole” as having an out of body experience or near-death experience.  While some users may find this “state” thrilling, other users find it very frightening and disturbing.  Because Ketamine can also render a person paralyzed, it is also very popular as a date rape drug.

One of the most dangerous aspects of Ketamine is that it is difficult to regulate the “dose”.  There is only a slight difference in dose between the desired, euphoric effects of the drug and an actual overdose.  At high doses, Ketamine is a depressant and can dangerously reduce a person’s heart rate and respiratory function.  When used with other substances such as alcohol, Valium or GHB, the user may experience serious medical consequences. Use of Ketamine can also produce delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function or depression.  Between 1994 and 1998, there were a purported 46 deaths associated with use.

Although studies on the long-term effects are still being conducted, there has been some evidence to suggest that Ketamine can impair learning ability, attention and memory.  Similar to other hallucinogenics, it can also cause severe flashbacks.  Frequent use in high doses can cause a disruption in consciousness, which may lead to neurosis or other mental disorders.

Some signs of problem use of Ketamine include:

  • Frequent use of the drug
  • Needing more and more of the drug to get high
  • Spending a great deal of time thinking about the drug
  • Spending more money than you have to obtain the drug
  • Missing class, work or other family obligations because of Ketamine use
  • Making new friends who use Ketamine and ignoring those friends who don’t
  • Finding it hard to function without the drug or finding it difficult to be happy without it


While there is no evidence to suggest that Ketamine is physically addictive, it is important to understand “What is Ketamine” as a number of studies have shown that it is a very psychologically addictive drug. For people who want to feel disconnected from their environment and enjoy having the “thrill” of an “out of body” experience, Ketamine can be dangerously appealing.  There have been many reported cases of addiction. Addiction counseling and addiction treatment programs are available to assist users in recovery from their addiction.

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