Also know as:
Horsey, K, Ket, Special K, Vitamin K
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.
How it is taken
Powdered Ketamine is usually snorted but it can also be swallowed. People also mix ketamine into drinks or take it as a ‘bomb’, wrapped in a cigarette paper or as a gel capsule.
Ketamine can also be mixed with water and injected, but this is very dangerous and increases the risk of virus transmission, infection and overdose.
Ketamine effects, when snorted, will be felt within 5 minutes and can last for 1–2 hours. If swallowed the effects can be felt within 30 minutes and may last for up to 3 hours. After effects may be felt for several hours.
Ketamine can slow down messages from your body to your brain, make you feel detached from your surroundings and change your perception of time. This is known as ‘k-holing’. People k-holing may be unresponsive and completely unable to move.
People also take Ketamine in low doses in clubs and social situations because it can increase energy and produce a pleasant a high, or even a spiritual, calming effect.
Other side effects include feeling floaty, numb and pain free, and experiencing a lack of coordination and/or balance.
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.
Ketamine can also be very dangerous when mixed with ecstasy or amphetamines as 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.