Ketamine Abuse: What You Need To Know

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Ketamine is a powerful drug that has sedative and dissociative qualities, making users feel detached from reality with each dose. The drug is considered a Schedule III substance, meaning it’s in the middle of the road when it comes to the likelihood of addiction. Users are less likely to be addicted to ketamine than to heroin, MDMA, mescaline, or other Schedule I drugs. Ketamine is now a widely used recreational drug, but it didn’t start out that way. It was originally developed as an anesthetic for humans (and animals) – and it’s still used in medical settings as an anesthetic to this day. Ketamine can come in two different forms: as a liquid or a white powder. 

Other Names for Ketamine

Brand Names 

  • Ketalar
  • Spravato ™
  • Esketamine 
  • Ketanest
  • Ketajet
  • Ketaset

Street Names

  • Special K
  • K
  • Super K
  • Vitamin K
  • Cat Valium
  • Cat Tranquilizer 
  • Kit Kat
  • Purple 
  • Jet

How & Why Is Ketamine Taken? 

For users, a ketamine high is awesome, producing feelings of euphoria and painlessness. Ketamine users also say the psychedelic effects of the drug are unbeatable. While high on the substance, users experience out-of-body sensations. It makes users feel like they’re in a trance – at the same time, it can make users feel like they’re paralyzed and unable to move. The trance-like qualities users get from ketamine is why it’s often sold and used at nightclubs and raves around the world. 

The drug can be consumed in many different ways. Users usually stick to one method that they prefer. That could be to smoke the drug, inject it, swallow it whole, or snort it. When ketamine is used incorrectly or in too large a dose, the results can be horrific. It can cause hallucinations, paranoia, seizures, paralysis, and other extreme medical issues.  In addition to its medical and illicit uses, Ketamine is used for nefarious predatory behavior. Ketamine is sometimes used as a date-rape drug. That’s because ketamine has been known to cause memory loss and temporary paralysis. 

How Teens and Young Adults Use Ketamine

  • Injection 
  • Snorting (up the nose) 
  • Mixing it into a drink (liquid form) 
  • Smoking it (in powder form) 
  • Taking the powder orally (also called “bombing” or “dabbing”) 

Who uses Ketamine?

The majority of people who use ketamine are teenagers and young adults. In addition to being a drug that’s often sold at raves and nightclubs, the drug is often sold at parties and social gatherings on universities and college campuses. 

What are the Effects of Ketamine Use?

User’s reactions to ketamine vary widely. That said, there are certain qualities that are predictable. First, the high usually lasts for up to two hours. Second, smoking the drug causes nearly immediate effects. With oral ingestion, a user is usually high within 20 minutes. And, lastly, when the drug is snorted it takes about 10 minutes to take effect. 

Ketamine Side Effects

Short-term Side Effects

  • Lethargy 
  • Sedation 
  • Hallucination 
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Involuntary eye movements 
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Trouble moving 
  • Slurred/Slowed speech 
  • Loss of memory 
  • Anxiety 
  • Paranoia 
  • Anger 
  • Chest pains 
  • Vomiting/Upset stomach/Nausea 
  • Seizures
  • Pain elimination 
  • A trance-like feeling 
  • Euphoria 
  • Strong desire to urinate 
  • High blood pressure 

Long-Term Side Effects

  • Long-term health side effects
  • Long-term high blood pressure 
  • Liver damage 
  • Kidney damage 
  • Damage to the bladder and urinary tract (also called “K Bladder”) 
  • Brain damage 

Signs of Ketamine Addiction

If you’re concerned that your child or loved one could be using or abusing ketamine, there are certain signs you can look out for. Remember, the qualities that draw users to ketamine are that it puts them in a trance-like state and that it causes euphoria. These are the things you should look out for when assessing if your loved one is on ketamine. 

  • Tiredness/Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Loss of interest
  • Sedation
  • Being confused or seeming “out of it” 
  • Lack of pain 
  • Loss of memory 
  • Paranoia, Panic, Anxiety, and Anger
  • Constantly itching the skin
  • Sudden changes in personality

Drug Paraphernalia To Look Out For 

In addition to looking for certain signs and symptoms on the user, look out for things that they may be carrying or keeping at home. 

  • Needles
  • Pills
  • Cigarette paper
  • Bottles
  • Bottle caps 
  • Cotton 
  • Plastic bags
  • White powder 

Ketamine Treatment 

If you believe that a loved one is abusing ketamine, it’s strongly advised that you consider getting help for them. Ketamine addiction is scary and hard to navigate, but with treatment even heavy ketamine users can get back their life. If you believe that your child or teen is using ketamine, the time to get help is now. Professional treatment will greatly increase their odds of success. 

Because ketamine is a social/party drug, chances are they are around other people when they are consuming it. Teens and young adults experiment with these drugs as a result of curiosity, peer pressure, and a desire to escape. A combination of all three could be at hand too. Oftentimes, experimentation is about a desire to test limits and push boundaries – to see what they can do and what they can get away with. Stopping addiction in its tracks is the best way to deal with it. 

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