Many drugs can both be incredibly harmful when abused while also still having beneficial medical functions when properly used. Ketamine, commonly referred to as Special K or Vitamin K on the street, is a good example of this type of drug. While ketamine is right to be considered a dangerous drug, it also has a variety of helpful uses and more are still being discovered.
Ketamine is a man-made anesthetic that is often administered as a liquid through an IV. Since the 1970s ketamine has been available through prescription in the United States and even though the DEA views it as a controlled substance it is still widely used in the medical community.
When used properly in the medical community, ketamine is almost always seen in liquid form. However, when abused as a street drug the liquid form can be evaporated down into a powder. That powder is often snorted or sprinkled on top of other party drugs to enhance their effects.
Ketamine is classified as a dissociative drug, a subcategory of hallucinogens that also contain drugs such as PCP. As a chemical compound and how it affects the human brain, ketamine and PCP are quite similar. However, ketamine is only about 10% as strong as PCP is.
While ketamine can be beneficial when used properly by medical professionals, it can equally be dangerous when abused. Ketamine can cause memory and attention issues, hallucinations, and raised blood pressure. It is also common for someone on ketamine to lose consciousness or experience an “out of body” sensation.
Ketamine abuse can lead users to what is commonly referred to as a “K hole”, which is described as a sensation when the user loses the ability to move or operate any of their senses. While this sensation is mental rather than physical, it often feels as if the user is experiencing a “near-death” experience.
Due to its quick effects and ability to render users unconscious, ketamine is also used as a “date rape” drug. The liquid or powder forms can be slipped into someone’s drink without them realizing it. Ketamine use can also cause amnesia, making it more likely to be used for nefarious purposes.
Ketamine is a liquid synthesized in labs to serve as an anesthetic. Ketamine can be used as a method of pain relief, commonly for burn victims or injuries during war. As an anesthetic, ketamine can be used for sedation either before or after surgeries. While it is usually only used as a human anesthetic if the patient is allergic or sensitive to more common anesthetics, it is incredibly common for veterinarians to use on animals.
First created in the early 1960s, ketamine quickly played an important role in the Vietnam War. Ketamine was commonly used both for the pain relief and sedation of injured soldiers. Outside of physical pain relief and anesthetic effects, ketamine may be able to treat a variety of mental illnesses as well.
New studies are suggesting that ketamine could be greatly beneficial in the treatment of depression. While the results are still being analyzed, many in the medical community believe that low doses of ketamine could greatly reduce serious symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. While some antidepressants could potentially take weeks or months to effectively lessen someone’s symptoms, ketamine’s effects would occur much faster. This quickened pace could be very important for someone experiencing severe thoughts of suicide.
Ketamine is also believed to be helpful to treat severe mental illnesses when other forms of treatment have proved ineffective. People suffering from mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or PTSD could similarly experience beneficial effects from ketamine.
Yes, you can overdose on ketamine. The symptoms most commonly associated with an overdose include seizures or a loss of consciousness. An overdose is more likely to occur when mixing the drug with alcohol or other illicit substances, which unfortunately is fairly common due to its stature as a “club drug”.
The dangers of mixing alcohol and ketamine specifically make ketamine a potentially lethal “club drug”. Ketamine overdoses are far more common to occur for people who suffer from alcohol abuse. The chemical effects of alcohol and ketamine are similar enough that combining them enhances the effects of both to the point of causing overdoses. One of the most common side effects of mixing ketamine and alcohol is slowed breath and unconsciousness, which can lead to falling into a coma or even death.
An overdose on ketamine can also have similar effects as an overdose of PCP. Strong hallucinations, especially in those suffering from mental illness, can lead to a variety of negative effects. Hallucinations can cause anxiety or depression, or lead to violent acts of users not fully aware of their actions or surroundings.
While ketamine is not as addicting as other street drugs, it can be habit-forming and therefore can cause withdrawal symptoms for those trying to quit. One of the most dangerous symptoms of ketamine withdrawal can be severe depression and potentially suicidal thoughts caused by quitting. Someone attempting to quit should also contact medical professionals for support. Withdrawal from any drug can be dangerous and should not be attempted alone.
With any addiction, it is not only important to treat the addiction but also the underlying mental issues that cause our addiction. Dual-diagnosis treatment is a great way to work towards recovery while also working on the root causes of our addiction problems. At Create Recovery Los Angeles we are here to help you work through your addiction issues. Please call 855.508.0143 to learn more.