Ketamine is an anesthetic primarily used in veterinary medicine that is used by some people to induce a dissasociative state, hallucinations and visualizations. Also known as K or Special K, the drug blocks pain paths in the brain without depressing respiratory functions while giving users an out-of-body psychedelic experience. The drug differs from other anesthetics due to the disassociative state that a person will enter and the fact that it does not interfere with reflexes such as coughing and swallowing.
Ketamine is also used as an anesthetic for minor medical procedures in humans. In this setting, small amounts can be given intramusclularly or intravenously in pediatric anesthesia, for individuals who suffer chronic airway diseases or to those who may have an allergy to other anesthetics. It has also been found to provide positive experiences when used in emergency or trauma situations.
As a recreational drug, ketamine is typically taken orally or snorted. The drug is often sold in powder form and can easily be confused with other drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines. It can also be dissolved in liquids such as drinks, injected intramuscular or smoked with tobacco or marijuana. Users take the drug because it has psychedelic qualities and users can experience an out-of-body feeling.
Individuals who take ketamine often experience a narrowing auditory bandwidth (sound will change), visual hallucinations, perception shift and they may be unable to speak. Users will talk of inner reflection, loss of senses, feeling of spinning and they may enter a state of semi-consciousness. Long term users often describe taking the drug to develop a clearer ego-mind split and that they enjoy the disassociation with their body and reality.
In small amounts, the experience is mild, visualizations are small and people may feel heavy in their arms and legs, feel the need to sit down, have perception shift and may find it difficult to verbalize what they are experiencing. In larger doses, ketamine can cause individuals to lose consciousness which is similar to that of going under anesthetic prior to a surgical procedure. It is in this state, which is sometimes referred to as a K-Hole that people will experience strange dreams, feel removed from their body and experience some form of what they describe as spiritual enlightenment.
Ketamine is increasingly popular among clubbers due to the psychedelic qualities of the drug. The visual and auditory sensations that the drug produces appeal to many people who enjoy these feelings when they are among dance music and light effects. However, the risks involved with combining this drug with other drugs, including alcohol, can be unpleasant.
Ketamine users often face safety and health risks as a result of their own behavior when on the drug. Some people have taken the drug when driving, in a pool or bath which can have deadly affects on a person. This is because of the dissasociative state a person experiences on the drug and they may not be aware of what is happening or what they are doing. People can experience injuries when they are on ketamine and not care that they are in pain, or not associate themselves with the injury. Ketamine should be avoided by people who have drunk alcohol, as many people will vomit when they take alcohol and ketamine together. Individuals who take barbiturates or Valium should also avoid combining these drugs with ketamine.
Studies have found that ketamine can cause severe bladder issues when taken over extended time at chronic levels. Ketamine can also cause respiratory depression when it is injected, as well as increase the risk of suffering from irregular heartbeat. For individuals who have heart conditions, this can potentially be fatal.
Tolerance and addiction to ketamine is possible after prolonged and frequent use. Addiction is often of the psychological variety rather than a physical addiction. Individuals will seek out the drug, engage in drug seeking behavior and may show signs of aggression and violence if they do not have the drug. Because of the social setting that the majority of users take ketamine in, there may be a dependence on the drug to enjoy themselves and the user may feel uneasy and awkward if they do not have the drug.
One of the most controversial issues surrounding ketamine is that it has been found to be an effective tool in therapy for addiction and depression. Researchers studied the effects of the drug on individuals who suffered severe depression and found that it was effective in relieving both symptoms and increased the effectiveness of psychotherapy. The drug has had interesting and astonishing results when used on patients who suffer from difficult depressive conditions, including bipolar disorder. The fast-acting nature of the drug proved to be the most interesting anti-depressant effect. Typically, anti-depressant medications can take days or weeks to start working which can prove ineffective if someone is suffering from a depression crisis. Administration of ketamine has provided immediate and short-acting results against depression, though it has been found ineffective in the long term.
Ketamine has been used as an alternative drug and alcohol therapy for nearly 30 years. The drug is administered under clinical conditions to individuals who are suffering the effects of chronic addiction and depression and the results have proved to be effective for some people. The drug has been found to only provide positive outcomes after detoxification from other drugs has occurred, and it is combined with effective professional psychotherapy. One study showed that there was a significant increase in the level of anhedonia, depression and anxiety that recovering heroin addicts experienced when they had been through ketamine psychedelic therapy. This is a significant result and such information may increase the use of ketamine as a therapeutic tool.