Also Known As: K, Special K, Vitamin K, Ket, Horsey
Ketamine is a powerful general anaesthetic that’s used for operations on humans and animals.
When used as a medical anaesthetic, ketamine is a liquid, because this makes it easy to inject. ‘Street’ ketamine is normally a grainy, white powder – although sometimes it can come as tablets.
Ketamine can be swallowed, inhaled or injected.
The effects don’t last long, but until they wear off, ketamine can cause a loss of feelings in the body and paralysis of the muscles. It can also lead to users experience 'out of body' experiences, numbness and hallucinations.
Ketamine is risky in a number of ways:
- Because you don't feel pain properly when you're on ketamine, you can injure yourself badly and not know you've done it.
- High doses, especially when taken with other substances like alcohol, benzodiazepines or opiates, can dangerously affect the way you breathe and how your heart works, and can lead to unconsciousness, which can be even more dangerous if vomit is inhaled. If high doses are taken, it can cause death. And it is certainly not safe to mix alcohol and ketamine.
- Ketamine can also be very dangerous when mixed with ecstasy or amphetamines, when it can cause high blood pressure.
- It has only recently been discovered that ketamine can cause very serious bladder problems with severe pain and difficulty passing urine, and can even result in surgical removal of the bladder.
- Abdominal pain or ‘K cramps’ have been reported by many long-term users.
- Injecting ketamine can damage the veins and can cause serious problems such as abscesses (swollen areas of tissue that are full of pus) and blood clots. Sharing injecting equipment, including needles and syringes, risks infections such as Hepatitis C and B viruses and HIV.
- With regular or large doses, ketamine can make existing mental health problems worse, and can cause feelings of confusion, panic attacks and depression.
Ketamine is a Class C drug. This means that it's illegal to possess it, give it away or supply it. Possession can get you up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you 14 years in jail and/or an unlimited fine.
Remember: Having a criminal record can make it difficult for you to get a job or visa if you want to travel abroad.
What's the difference between possession & supply (dealing)? What happens if you're under 16? Learn more about drugs and the law.