Ketamine — referred to on the street as special K, vitamin K, horse tranquilizer and cat valium — is an anesthetic drug used in veterinary and hospital settings. When abused recreationally, ketamine produces effects similar to the extremely hazardous drug PCP. It is a dissociative anesthetic, which means it produces numbness and a dream-like state. It can also cause terrifying hallucinations, serious cognitive problems, addiction and even death.
Dissociative anesthetics such as ketamine are powerful drugs that are used to start and sustain general anesthesia during surgery. Ketamine is also sometimes used to induce sedation and stop pain in people and animals, especially those who might have issues with common central nervous system depressants such as opiates or barbiturates. The World Health Organization counts ketamine as essential for the proper operation of a health system.
Parke Davis scientists developed ketamine as a replacement for PCP, which was also used as an anesthetic. By 1970 physicians used ketamine as a surgical anesthetic. Among the first places it was used was in Vietnam during the war. Around the same time, ketamine grew in popularity as a recreational drug.
The Physical and Psychological Effects of Ketamine Abuse
Ketamine is a derivative of the drug PCP, which is considered by many addiction experts as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. PCP produces intense hallucinations, long-term psychoses and other extremely serious side effects. The effects of ketamine, however, do not last as long as those of PCP and also do not cause precisely the same side effect profile.
Since 1970 the number of people who abuse ketamine has increased significantly, and it is popular on the rave and club scenes. Ketamine produces different effects than other popular club drugs such as MDMA-based ecstasy, molly and moon rocks, however. While ketamine produces slurred speech and other anesthetic effects, MDMA drugs are stimulants that increase brain activity. Taking too much ketamine can cause a terrifying experience for the user.
Ketamine produces a trance-like state that also induces amnesia. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless. These qualities explain why ketamine is sometimes used to commit crimes such as date rape.
Users typically snort or swallow ketamine after it dries and forms a powder. People who take pure ketamine — which may be stolen from a veterinary source — report hallucinations and the sense of floating apart from their bodies.
Even in low doses ketamine severely impairs cognitive and physical abilities. Difficulty paying attention, learning and remembering are common. Taking more than a low dose can result in amnesia, difficulty moving, blood pressure problems, difficulty breathing, delirium and depression. These effects occur because the psychoactive ingredient in ketamine blocks a certain brain chemical called glutamate. Users sometimes feel euphoric, and insensitivity to pain also occurs. These effects mimic the profile of PCP.
In addition to these negative effects, people who take ketamine in high doses also risk death because the drug acts as a depressant. The most serious abuse cases can end in overdose as well as the “k-hole,” an intense reaction that many refer to as a near-death experience. Heart rate and breathing can slow to dangerous levels and eventually stop altogether. Should a user fall into the k-hole, serious harm can result because the individual will be unable to communicate or move.
With continued abuse, evidence of tolerance and physical dependence is present. That means taking more and more ketamine is required to achieve the same high. Without ketamine, physical withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings begin and quickly grow worse.
The Symptoms of Ketamine Abuse and Addiction
The long-term effects of ketamine abuse are severe. Not only do individuals who chronically abuse ketamine develop painful headaches, often-terrifying flashbacks, sensory problems and impaired cognitive abilities, they also risk psychoses such as drug-induced depression. In some cases, ketamine bladder syndrome — a painful condition characterized by incontinence and bladder ulcerations — may develop. Mixing ketamine with other substances such as alcohol is extremely dangerous, and the consequences are sometimes unpredictable, but they often include vomiting, coma and death.
If someone you care about is taking too much ketamine, there is help available. If you suspect overdose, seek professional medical help immediately as the symptoms of overdose may be reversible. You can also get help if someone you care about has developed a ketamine addiction. If you’re not sure whether or not addiction has developed, ask yourself:
- Is increasingly more time being spent trying to find ketamine?
- Is missing classes or work because of drug use increasing in frequency?
- Are symptoms of long-term abuse, such as depression, irritability or anxiety, growing worse?
- Are cognitive skills related to learning, memory and decision-making growing weaker?
- Are old activities and friends going ignored?
- Are money or reputation problems becoming an issue?
- Is denial — or lying about or hiding use — a problem?
- Is there a preexisting mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety?
If these problems sound familiar, it’s time to get help.
Ketamine, PCP and other dissociative anesthetics are hazardous to health and well-being. The risk of injury from even casual use — as well as the likelihood of becoming the victim of a crime — is high.
Continuing to abuse a drug such as ketamine is extremely dangerous. Ketamine withdrawal effects include intense symptoms such as restless behavior, exhaustion, chills, powerful cravings, profuse sweating, irregular heartbeat and anxiety.
With help, however, ketamine withdrawal and recovery can be a more comfortable process. The supervised detox and holistic rehabilitation center at 12 Keys is well equipped to treat ketamine addiction. Our qualified and compassionate staff members provide round-the-clock care, which makes the early days of sobriety easier to manage. With time-tested and progressive therapies and treatments, our clients uncover the underlying issues that led to addiction, learn how to manage cravings and gain the tools they need to make better choices.
You don’t have to let a dangerous drug such as ketamine define your or your family’s future. Call us now for more information — the call is free and confidential — and find out how we can help you or your loved one enroll in rehab. We see miracles every day at 12 Keys Rehab — now we want to see yours. Find your path to freedom at 12 Keys Rehab, starting today.
Call 866-480-4328 to get help now