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Ketamine: You Won’t Find This Special K on the Breakfast Table

It won’t be in anyone’s cereal bowl, but Special K (Ketamine) is finding its way into the hands of young  people today at an alarming rate.  Everyone has heard of “date rape” drugs these days. Special K or Ketamine is sometimes used as one of those date rape drugs because it is an anesthetic which makes it highly popular with sexual predators. The victim is somewhat incapacitated by the drug. Because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless as a liquid, or a white or off-white powder, it is easily slipped into unattended drinks.

This drug is highly popular among young party goers which makes it fall into the category of club drugs. Young adults aged 18 to 25 are more likely to use Ketamine than those who are older. Many of these young adults frequent the clubs and attend ‘raves’ where this drug is found.

Some of the street names for Ketamine are:

  • Special K
  • Cat Valium
  • Jet
  • Vitamin K
  • Super Acid
  • Super C
  • Green

Ketamine was initially developed as a general anesthetic in 1962 for veterinary use. It was approved for human use by the federal government in 1970. It first started being used on the West Coast as a recreational drug. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was being used across the country. At about the same time, new forms of the drug appeared on the illegal market. These included tablets, capsules, crystals, liquid solutions, and powder. This drug can be snorted, swallowed, or injected. Sometimes it is smoked by mixing it in with marijuana or tobacco.

In August of 1999, the federal government classified this drug as a Schedule III Controlled Substance.

This means that abuse has a low rate of physical dependence, but a high rate of psychological dependence.


Ketamine can put the user in a state called a “K-Hole.” They are unable to communicate or move, and feel far away from their body. Many users find this state very disturbing and frightening. Others seek this state and actually like it. Combining it with alcohol, Valium, or any other depressant can cause serious medical consequences, or even death.

Effects of Ketamine

Ketamine is one of the hallucinogens. However, the hallucinogenic effects only last about an hour or less. The senses, judgment, and coordination of the user may be affected for up to 24 hours after taking the drug.

If injected, the user may feel the effects of Ketamine within 30 seconds, if swallowed the effects will be felt in about 20 minutes, and if snorted they will be felt in five to ten minutes. These effects can last for approximately 45 to 90 minutes.

Some of these effects include:

  • Feelings of relaxation and euphoria
  • Slurred speech
  • Feelings of being detached from the body
  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion and difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of panic, paranoia, anxiety, and agitation
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Hallucinations and distorted perception

Very high doses of Ketamine can cause more extreme effects such as:

  • Temporary paralysis (inability to move)
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Semi-consciousness
  • Feelings of panic or terror
  • Increased body temperature
  • Hostile, bizarre, and erratic behavior
  • ‘Near death’ experiences

Individuals can develop a tolerance for this drug and have cravings for it. Those who want to feel dissociated to their lives can become very dependent on Ketamine. They can develop a psychological addiction to it. These are some signs that you may notice if you have a friend or loved one who you feel is becoming dependent on Ketamine:

  • Using more frequently
  • Spending time thinking and talking about Ketamine use
  • Making new friends who use the drug
  • Needing more in order to achieve the same high as before
  • Spending more money on the drug and neglecting other financial responsibilities
  • Research has shown that nationally in 2002, almost 3% of 12th graders had used Ketamine in the past year.
  • An estimated 2.3 million people aged 12 or older used Ketamine in their lifetime.
  • In 2009, use of Ketamine was reported by 1.0% of 8th graders, 1.3% of 10th graders, and 1.7% of 12th graders.

Ketamine Treatment

As with any other type of drug or alcohol addiction, Ketamine addiction needs to be professionally handled. Whether an addiction is physical or psychological, it is still an addiction. An individual who feels that they need the drug of choice is addicted even though they don’t experience physical withdrawal symptoms when they abstain from the substance.

There are different types of treatment for Ketamine addiction. An individual may choose outpatient counseling for this problem. The only drawback of outpatient treatment is that the patient still has the temptations and opportunities for drug use, since they do remain at their home during this treatment.

One must have a strong will and be able to resist this temptation to be able to be successful in their recovery.

Inpatient or residential treatment has proven to be more successful with individuals undergoing treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. With this type of treatment, the client resides at the facility and is removed from any temptations, along with the normal stresses of everyday life. The client does not have to worry about running into old friends who may try to persuade them to go out partying and using the Ketamine or other drugs again. They can take this time and focus on their treatment and counseling which is needed for them to recover from their addiction.

Inpatient treatment facilities give the clients the education and tools needed to resist drug use in the future. They learn to handle hard situations without the use of drugs. They learn how to have fun and enjoy their life once again without turning to a substance for this purpose.

Once the client leaves the inpatient treatment center, they will be offered an aftercare program to keep them on the path of recovery. They can attend group meetings where they can share their experiences and struggles with peers who are also recovering from substance abuse.

If you know of anyone who is having a problem abusing Ketamine or any other drug, please encourage them to seek help immediately.


  1. http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/prescription/ketamine.html
  2. http://www.dancesafe.org/drug-information/ketamine
  3. http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/ketamine.asp#8
  4. http://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs4/4769/index.htm
  5. http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/ketamine
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