Ketamine has gained notoriety in recent years as one of the more popular “club drugs” – psychoactive drugs commonly abused by young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts and parties – because of its euphoric qualities. It causes distorted perception, a dream-like state of delirium and a feeling of detachment from the user’s body and environment. It also has dangerous side effects and potentially addictive properties.
Users of ketamine often experience an all-over buzz that produces a profound sense of relaxation and happiness. The high normally lasts less than an hour, however, which leads many users to binge on the drug to get a sustained effect. Other users take higher doses, usually through injections, which creates what has been described as “a near-death experience” where the user feels detached from reality.
The drug is produced in several forms: as a pill, a powder that can be snorted or dissolved in water, or as liquid that can be injected. It has been used as a date rape drug in bars and clubs because it is odorless and colorless, making it hard to detect when added to a beverage.
Originally designed as a drug to be used for sedation or pain management in pets, Ketamine is sometimes used in medical care, particularly in cases when a sedative is needed but stronger drugs may be too much for the patient to handle.
Accidental overdoses of ketamine are not unusual; it does not even require a large dose if other drugs or alcohol are being used at the same time. Because it acts as a tranquilizer, ketamine users may experience a loss of mobility and speech, which can be dangerous because they cannot ask for help when they are in distress. The leading cause of death from ketamine use is respiratory failure.
Side effects from ketamine can last for up to a full day after taking the drug. The most common side effects include:
During rehab for ketamine, the withdrawal symptoms are primarily psychological in nature, although people who use the drug heavily have experienced physical withdrawal symptoms as well. Typical symptoms include agitation, confusion, intense anger, hallucinations and insomnia. It’s important that ketamine users seek professional supervision for withdrawal to ensure a controlled, more comfortable and safe detox process.