Ketamine Effects
November 20, 2005
ABOUT KETAMINE
The use of Ketamine, one of the more popular club drugs, is
increasing among teenagers and young adults throughout the
United States. Because of its anesthetic properties, Ketamine is
considered to be one of the date rape drugs, substances that can
be slipped into a person's drink to render him or her unconscious.

The 1997 Monitoring the Future Study found that increased
Ketamine use has been reported in many cities, including Miami,
New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Detroit (NIDA, 2000). In the
spring of 1997, Congress classified Ketamine as a drug with a high
abuse potential and the possibility of creating severe physical or
psychological dependence (NCADI, 2000).

WHAT IS KETAMINE?
Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride; a non-barbiturate) is a central
nervous system depressant that produces a rapid-acting
dissociative effect. It was developed in the 1970s as a medical
anesthetic for both humans and animals. Ketamine is often
mistaken for cocaine or crystal methamphetamine because of a
similarity in appearance (NCADI, 2000). It also has been used in
human medicine for pediatric burn cases and dentistry, and in
experimental psychotherapy. It is being abused by an increasing
number of young people as a "club drug," and is often distributed at
"raves" and parties.

Also known as K, Special K, Vitamin K, Kit Kat, Keller, Super Acid, and
Super C, Ketamine is available in tablet, powder, and liquid form. So
powerful is the drug that, when injected, there is a risk of losing
motor control before the injection is completed. In powder form, the
drug can be snorted or sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana and
smoked (Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 2000). The effects of
Ketamine last from 1 to 6 hours, and it is usually 48 hours before
the user feels completely "normal" again.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF KETAMINE?
Ketamine produces a dissociative state in a user. Effects can range
from
rapture to paranoia to boredom. The user feels its hallucinogenic
effects and experiences impaired perception. Ketamine commonly
elicits an out-of-body or near-death experience; it can render the
user comatose. Physically it prodcues slurred speech, increased
heart rate, increased blood pressure, lack of coordination, muscle
rigidity, bronchodilation, respiratory distress, paralysis, increased
cardiac output (leading to risk of heart attack or stroke), coma, and
death.

Ketamine is similar molecularly to phencyclidine (PCP--or "Angel
Dust") and thus creates similar effects including numbness, loss of
coordination, sense of invulnerability, muscle rigidity,
aggressive/violent behavior, slurred or blocked speech,
exaggerated sense of strength, and a blank stare. There is
depression of respiratory function but not of the central nervous
system, and cardiovascular function is maintained. Since ketamine is
an anesthetic, it stops the user from feeling pain, which could lead
the user to inadvertantly cause injury to himself/herself. Ketamine
may relieve tension and anxiety, is purported to be a sexual
stimulant, and intensifies colors and sounds.

The effects of a ketamine 'high' usually last an hour but they can
last for 4-6 hours, and 24-48 hours are generally required before
the user will feel completely "normal" again. Effects of chronic use of
ketamine may take from several months to two years to wear off
completely. Low doses (25-100mg) produce psychedelic effects
quickly. Large doses (1 gram or more) can produce vomiting and
convulsions and may lead to oxygen starvation to the brain and
muscles; one gram can cause death (NCADI, 2000).  As with most
anesthetics, eating or drinking before taking Ketamine can produce
vomiting. Flashbacks may even occur one year after use. Long-term
effects include tolerance and possible physical and/or psychological
dependence.

HOW IS IT BEING ABUSED?
Ketamine is a liquid and the most potent ways of using it are by
injecting it intramuscularly or intravenously. There is the risk of
losing motor control before injection is completed. Ketamine also
can be made into a tablet, or a powder by evaporating the liquid
and reducing it to a fine white powder that can be smoked or
snorted. Because of its appearance, Ketamine is often mistaken for
cocaine or crystal methamphetamine. Some reports indicate it is
sometimes sold as MDMA (Ecstasy) and mixed with other drugs such
as ephedrine and caffeine. "Cafeteria use" -- the use of a number of
hallucinogenic and sedative/hypnotic club drugs such as MDMA, GHB,
LSD, and illegally used prescription drugs -- is reported almost
everywhere in the U.S.

IS KETAMINE LEGAL?
Yes, but only for medical uses. It is marketed as Ketalar, or Ketaset,
to veterinarians and medical personnel and considered a controlled
substance only in California, Connecticut, New Mexico, and
Oklahoma. A bill was introduced in Congress in the spring of 1997 to
schedule ketamine as a Schedule II drug, having a high abuse
potential with severe psychic or physical dependence liability.
Cocaine and methamphetamine are other examples of Schedule II
drugs.

IS KETAMINE USE SPREADING?
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, ketamine is an
emerging drug in San Diego, New York, Miami, Newark (DE). Its use
is also being reported in New Jersey, D.C., Florida, and Georgia.

                                
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SOURCES
1. Ketamine: A Fact Sheet National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and
Drug Information P.O. Box 2345
Rockville, MD 20847-2345
2. PREVENTIONAlert Volume 3, Number 28 September 1, 2000

OTHER SOURCES
Drugs, Insolvents and Intoxicants-Ketamine,
http://area51.upsu.plym.ac.uk/~harl/ketamine.aspx, accessed July 2000.
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI), Ketamine:
A Fact Sheet, ncadi.samhsa.gov/pubs/qdocs/ketamine/ketafact.aspx,
accessed July 2000.
National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), Infofax;Club Drugs,
www.nida.nih.gov/Infofax/clubdrugs.aspx, accessed July 2000.
NIDA, Community Drug Alert Bulletin;Club Drugs,
http://165.112.78.61/ClubAlert/Clubdrugalert.aspx, accessed July 2000.
Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Drug Information: Ketamine (Special
K), www.drugfreeamerica.org/clubdrugs/ketamine.aspx, accessed July 2000.
Addiction Research Foundation
Addictions and Life Organization
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Drug Enforcement Administration
Encyclopedia of Drug Abuse
Federal Drug Administration
Internet news groups
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Time magazine
University of Plymouth Student Union Computing Society
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