On the street the drug is known as ‘K’ or ‘Special K’.
Ketamine is a ‘dissociative anaesthetic’ discovered in the 1960s; it is used as a general anaesthetic and painkiller in veterinary and human medical practice. It is an effective general anaesthetic, having the unusual effect for these drugs of stimulating rather than depressing breathing. However, it has strong psychotropic effects, with medical patients having awakened from operations to report meeting God. Ketamine produces the sensation that the mind is separated from the body.
The licit drug is sold as an injectable liquid, while the illicit product is more often a powder, a white crystalline substance reminiscent of cocaine. It may be taken orally (often mixed in drinks), injected into a muscle or (most commonly) snorted. When snorted the drug takes effect after about one minute and last for 20 to 40 minutes. At lower doses the effect is primarily one of euphoria, accompanied by numbness and loss of coordination.
Higher doses can produce full-blown ‘out-of-body’ experiences in which people report reaching parallel world and states of consciousness (the ‘K hole’). Some people experience an involuntary paralysis which can be very frightening. Other unpleasant side-effects can include blackouts and loss of bladder control.
Ketamine is a Class C, schedule 4(1) drug. It is illegal to possess, supply or produce this drug.
Possession of Class C drugs carries a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment and/or fine. Trafficking offences carry a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment and a fine.
Free, confidential information and advice is available by calling the Release Drugs Helpline on 0845 45 00 215