Ketamine, known as Special K, Vitamin K or Cat Valiums, is an injectable anesthetic. It is most commonly used by veterinarians on large animals today. In the 1980s it began to be used recreationally as an intoxicant.Club drugs (also sometimes called Dance Drugs or Designer Drugs) are drugs which at one time were found most frequently in night clubs and at raves, but have since become some of the fastest growing drugs used by college students. These drugs include MDMA (ecstasy, E, or X), ketamine (special K), GHB, and crystal methamphetamine (speed, crank, crystal, tina).
Ketamine is either sold as a dry white powder or a clear liquid (in its original pharmaceutical packaging). The powder is made by drying the liquid. The residue from this drying process is then crushed and snorted in small doses (called bumps). In rare cases ketamine is injected intramuscularly or smoked with tobacco or cannabis. Whether smoked or snorted, the effects begin in a few minutes and lasts less than an hour.
In large doses ketamine produces effects in humans similar to phencyclidine (PCP) such as dream-like dissociative states and hallucinations. It has a number of contradictory effects, including stimulant, sedative, anesthetic, and hallucinogenic properties. Users describe feeling like they are drunk, stoned, and tripping all at once.
Ketamine blocks the neurotransmitter glutamate at one of its receptors, causing a user to feel distanced from his/her environment. But ketamine also causes the user to feel euphoric and insensitive to physical pain. When ketamine is used as an anesthetic in humans, it is used with another drug to prevent hallucinations.
As with PCP, people can have bad reactions to ketamine. It impairs a person’s ability to drive and can cause violent paranoia, agitation, or confusion. Ketamine can also put users in a state called a “k-hole” where they become unable to move or communicate and feel very far away from their body. Some users seek this state, which they consider to simulate a near-death experience, while others find it frightening and disturbing. Because it can render the user unable to move, ketamine has also been used as a date rape drug.
It is difficult to regulate a “dose” of ketamine, and there is only a slight difference in dose between the desired effects and an overdose. Ketamine is a depressant at higher doses and can dangerously reduce heart rate and respiratory function. Combining ketamine with other depressants, like alcohol, valium, or GHB, can lead to serious medical consequences. It can also produce delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function or depression at high doses. Ketamine was associated with 46 deaths between 1994 and 1998.