Ketamine, a member of the family of club drugs like Ecstasy, is a dissociative anesthetic with hallucinogenic effects
These drugs are popular at parties, nightclubs, music venues and raves. Known to induce a sense of sedation, the drug has the ability to make its users feel detached from their pain and the environment. Some of its common street names are Special K, Super Acid, Super K, Cat Valium and Jet K, among others. As per the recent data, in 2016, while an estimated 1.4 million people aged 12 or above used hallucinogens, the number was less at approximately 114,000 for adolescents aged 12 to 17.
Though street sales of ketamine are rare, distribution of the drug typically occurs through friends and acquaintances. Because of their popularity among youths, the misconception that these “club drugs” are safe is far too pervasive. They are not safe. Sovereign Health considers club drug addiction as a serious threat, as it is no less dangerous than addiction to heroin or methamphetamine. Ketamine addiction can create many stressful life events, if not identified in time or treated under expert supervision.
Ketamine is commonly used in surgeries and medical procedures on humans and animals. The drug blocks the neurotransmitter glutamate at its receptor, resulting in a trance-like dissociative state. Originally used to induce anesthesia in soldiers undergoing procedures on the battlefield during the Vietnam War, ketamine replaced the medical use of Phencyclidine (PCP) in the 1960s and, hence, the first cases of ketamine addiction likely occurred among Vietnam veterans.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies ketamine as a Schedule III non-narcotic substance and is still widely used in human and veterinary medicine today. The feasibility of producing synthetic ketamine in a laboratory adds to its popularity as a street drug.
Ketamine is odorless, tasteless and is available in various forms, including as pills, powder and liquid. It can be injected, snorted, swallowed, smoked or mixed in drinks. Its amnesic effects enable its abuse as a “date rape” drug, which sexual predators slip into their victims’ drinks to make them unconscious. Medically used ketamine is produced in the United States and in other countries. Most illegally used ketamine is stolen from legitimate sources, especially veterinary clinics or smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.
Ketamine abuse: side effects
Ketamine produces a host of mental and physical side effects. As a hallucinogen, the drug distorts perceptions, including sights and sounds, and gives the user a sense of being disconnected or out of control. These effects can occur within a few minutes of the drug consumption. Compared to LSD and PCP, ketamine’s hallucinogenic effects are of shorter duration and might last for up to 30 to 60 minutes, instead of several hours.
Following are some of the psychological side effects of ketamine abuse:
- Cognitive difficulties
Following are some of the physical side effects of ketamine abuse:
- Dangerously slow breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Increased blood pressure
- Involuntary rapid eye movement
- Muscle stiffness
- Rapid heart rate
- Tear secretion
In some cases, ketamine users can experience frightening symptoms of complete sensory detachment that causes them to feel separated from themselves and the world around them. Additionally, high doses of ketamine can increase the risk of experiencing psychosis and hallucinations.