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Although it's used by vets for sedating horses, ketamine has become a popular recreational drug. Here are the effects of ket and the risks of taking it.

Ketamine is an anaesthetic with painkilling and hallucinogenic properties. It comes in tablet, liquid or powder form. The drug is intended to be used by vets as a sedative and anaesthetic.

The drug was only made illegal in January 2006. Despite that, the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit reported that in 2007 there were around 90,000 ketamine users in the UK, 50% more than in 2000.

What are the effects of taking ketamine?

  • Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic with analgesic properties. This means it numbs the body and creates the effect of removing users from their sense of reality.
  • Common effects include out-of-body experiences, hallucinations and temporary paralysis.
  • As with LSD and other hallucinogens, the effects of taking ketamine are influenced by the user's mood and environment.
  • If injecting liquid ketamine, sharing needles can pass on diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

What are the risks of taking ketamine?

  • Because ket numbs the body, users run the risk of serious injury without even realising they've been hurt.
  • Because of it's dissociative effects, a ketamine hit can be an alarming experience, even for those used to taking other drugs.
  • Excessive doses can cause serious breathing problems, unconsciousness or heart failure.
  • There  also a risk of choking on vomit whilst unconscious.

The law and ketamine:

Ketamine is currently a Class C drug. Possession can lead to up to two years in jail and supply carries a maximum penalty of 14 years.

Ketamine is also known as:

Special K, K, ket, super K, vitamin K, green, Mr Soft and techno smack.

Other ketamine-related terms:

Bump: The dose of ketamine acquired by dabbing at the powder with a finger or a moistened key.   

Calvin Klein: a combination of cocaine and ketamine.

K-Hole: Users who are unable to move, or who are having a bad experience on ketamine, are said to be in a K-Hole.

If you are planning on taking ketamine:

  • If you're out clubbing and feel sick, don't lock yourself in a toilet cubicle alone. If you lose consciousness you can choke on your vomit and no one will be able to help.
  • Caution is the name of the game. Excessive doses have killed people. It's worth stressing, though, as with all drugs, there is no such thing as a safe dose, since there's no way of knowing how strong or pure the powder/liquid is, or how an individual will react to it. 
  •  As a rule, never share needles. Sharing equipment just isn't worth the risk.

Updated: 13/04/2010

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