Ketamine – Side Effects, Risk Factors, Applications, Facts

Ketamine also referred to as Special K is an anesthetic that taken once makes you feel out of control. It brings hallucinations, detaches you from reality. It makes one feel like they can control the world around them. It is also called as ‘horse tranquilizer’ Ketalar is the trade name for ketamine. The melting point of K is 258° Celsius to 261° Celsius(496° Fahrenheit to 502° Fahrenheit).

It is used as a medication for sedation which produces relaxation and relieves pain. It is used on animals also. A dose of this drug will not affect the heartbeat functioning, breathing reflexes. The effect of using ketamine begins after 5 minutes of injecting and it lasts for 25 minutes. It reduces depression, chronic pain and also used for sedation in intensive care.

It comes in powdered form or liquid that has been dried to make powder. Small doses can boost energy level making one feel high which more dose of ketamine causes one to cut off from surroundings and self. This condition is often called a K hole which can last up to 90 minutes. Anxiety, memory loss, suicidal thoughts are some mental health problems caused if ketamine is used for the long term. It may also include bladder problems, kidney or liver damage, stomach pain, and blood flow during urination. Agitation and confusion are the common side effects of using ketamine. This drug was first used as a veterinary anesthetic that was patented in Belgium, Europe during the mid-1900s. It is now available in the complex form of Ketamine Hydrochloride.

Ketamine - Side Effects, Risk Factors, Applications, Facts

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Few facts about Ketamine

  • In the list given by World Health Organization Essential Medicine List, Ketamine was among them which was used as an anesthetic as well as analgesic, meaning a drug that gives pain relief, was widely used for humans and animals.
  • Of all the anesthetics used, Ketamine is said to be the safest option as it doesn’t affect breathing and low blood pressure functionalities.
  • Ketamine is the only drug used worldwide.
  • A versatile drug, research suggests that it is used in treating epilepsy.
  • Ketamine is also referred to as ‘club drug’.
  • Among the users of Special K, teenagers and younger adults are the majority ones.
  • Kit Kat, Green K, Honey oil, Jet, Ket are few street names or code names for ketamine.
  • It is said to be a highly addictive drug. People consuming this drug can lose their ability to learn new things, to properly think.

Ketamine for Depression

Ketamine has been recommended as a major drug for curing depression. New studies suggest that Ketamine Therapy can cure Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Esketamine, which is derived from ketamine is a nasal spray used to treat depression. This drug has been a success and is still prescribed as an antidepressant by doctors. After giving a dose of this antidepressant to patients, the symptoms of depression start to wear off within just 24 hours. Ketamine for depression is indeed a miracle drug. 70% of the patients that have used ketamine are out of depression.

Ketamines Drug Dose

Ketamine drug dose depends upon some factors like gender, weight, metabolism and much more. Therefore, doctors firstly prescribe lower doses then slowly increase it accordingly. Lower doses of ketamine lead to a decrease in depression symptoms. Higher doses can be quite dangerous. A person consuming higher doses will live in a virtual environment. The effect will last up to 90 minutes.

Ketamine for Anxiety

Many people these days are suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) where people are facing anxiety. There were many treatments to bring this down but none really worked fully. Then ketamine came into play and things have changed a lot. Ketamine for anxiety was curing many of its symptoms. SAD(Social Anxiety Disorder) is more among Americans. It is a disorder in which people shy away from social situations causing distress. Due to this, many important factors like academics, work productivity, quality of life are affecting. Ketamine has become an alternative to cure it.

Applications of ketamine

  • It is a known fact that ketamine is used as a veterinary drug and is induced as an anesthetic before and after surgery. It is safe to administer the drug without the need of oxygen supply, electrical supply. Therefore, this has been used in less wealthy countries.
  • Its other uses include orthopedic procedures, dental extractions, diagnostic procedures.
  • It is said to reduce symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), a disorder in which people suffer from trauma.
  • It is a widely used drug for curing depression.

Side Effects of Consuming Ketamine

  • Drowsiness: It is a general fact that consuming drugs makes you drowsy. It causes a lack of concentration.
  • Sound and color change: One may feel different sounds and see different colors of their surrounding environment due to consumption.
  • Dissociation from self: The drug tends to detach one from his/her world to a different world causing to lose his own identity.
  • Agitation: It causes agitation and they tend to act differently from others.
  • Difficult to learn and think: You tend to lose the ability to learn and think in a proper way even if you are willing to learn.
  • Nausea: There are some people who vomit when given this drug.
  • Amnesia: Memory loss is a common symptom of using ketamine.
  • The eyes and brain functionality is affected badly due to K.
  • Speech is also affected.
  • Lower heartbeat, high or low blood pressure.
  • Skin gets red, rashes occur.
  • Breathing problems, airway obstruction occurs.
  • We get to see a double image of what we see through the retina.
  • High usage can cause many problems like:
  • Urinary tract and bladder problems: There are many symptoms like blood in the urine, bladder volume reduces, bladder compliance also decreases.
  • Liver problems: The liver contains enzymes that have many uses. Due to high doses of ketamine, the enzyme functioning will affect.

Do not use ketamine in case of:

  • Angina- A condition in a person suffers from chest pain due to the poor flow of blood in their body.
  • Stroke- This is a condition in which the heartbeat
  • Psychiatric disorders.

History of ketamine

Ketamine was first developed by a professor named Calvin L. Stevens with the name Cl 581. It was first tested on animals, then on human prisoners. After testing it, ketamine was made a favorable anesthetic. It was used as an anesthetic to the American soldiers during the Vietnam war.

After a few years, it was referred to as “club drugs”. It was used in club parties to stay high for hours together. It was widely used by Hong Kong during the 1990s. And on the recreational drug scene, it arrived in the early 1980s. And thereafter it became a common and most popular part of the dance cultures, raves which was done mainly to intensify the MDMA effects or which could be popularly known as the effects of ecstasy. And now it remains popular among the students of high school as well as young adults. As the high rates of usage lie between the age group of 18 to 25.

Ketamine around the globe:


A place in China named Boshe was accused of being the main center for the production of ketamine. It was sacked during the year 2013. Research done suggests that clubs in Taipei, Taiwan uses more amount of ketamine which is approximately 47% of them use it. It was sold among the Taiwanese school going students. Hong Kong reportedly had students aged 21 are accused of having ketamine.

Australia: It has been reported that students aged 14 are becoming predators of this drug.

Europe: France, Italy, Czech Republic, United Kingdom has been named victims of this K drug. Poland and Portugal have also been a part of this.

North America: Sources collected by the famous University of Michigan suggest that Americans mainly, school going students of classes 8,10,12 were consuming drugs. The consumption increased from 0.8% to 2.5%. Mexico was having a huge organization producing drugs. It was shut down by Mexican and U.S authorities. It reportedly used to ship drugs to places like India at cheaper prices.

In the case of Canada, there was a rough use of Ketalar. Toronto was the center of drug production. This was even telecast in a television series by National Geographic.

Countries like Australia, India, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Kingdom has legal status over ketamine.

How is ketamine Taken

Snorting: People in the United Kingdom snort Ketamine in powdered form.

Injecting: To get higher doses, it is injected in the muscle.

Tablet form: It is less in use.

Cigarette: Some fill the powder in paper roll and have it.

Risks of using ketamine

There are many risks of using ketamine. It includes near-death experiences, getting detached, etc.

When high doses of Ketamine is consumed, people enter a phase called K hole. No person would want to go through this frightening experience. Side effects include confusion, difficulty in speaking, floating experiences. Some have even experienced alien phenomena, near-death experiences, astral travel also. We feel powerless and experience nystagmus, a condition in which others around you feel that you are completely intoxicated but you may move your eyes. There are risks due to this. It might be difficult to come out of the K hole. You might also develop symptoms of psychosis. Other effects include:

  • Hypotension, heartbeat rhythm.
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal movements
  • Date rape

Why do people have to use this drug when it has many effects on our bodies? People experience many emotions in their day to day life. In order to escape themselves from stress and other things, they take up this self detachment drug. Another reason is that young people often love to go with the trend. So they try it just for ‘fun sake’ not knowing the side effects due to this.

The chemical formula of Ketamine is C13H16CNO. In veterinary medicine, it is used as an anesthetic on cats, rabbits, rats, dogs. It is also used as an ingredient in rodent cocktail for rodents. It is used as an analgesic for large animals. Ketamine is a chiral compound and its preparations are racemic. K mixed with other drugs can show dangerous results.

When mixed with alcohol: Coma, vomiting, death are the effects caused.

When mixed with cocaine: More stress on the body causing a faster heartbeat.

Giving up ketamine is not a child’s play. It is challenging to do that. The symptoms last for a week which includes

  • Cravings for the drug
  • Tiredness
  • Nightmares
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heartbeats

Over the years, many people have been accused of drug abuse. Youth is the majority among them. Half of the population is the youth. They are the ones getting influenced by drugs. There are many reasons to take drugs including:

  • Stress: Competition over academics has been increasing day today. They are being pressured by their parents, teachers to get good grades. To escape from all of this, they take up drugs as an option not knowing the side effects caused.
  • Trend: Youngsters these days getaway by the trends. If anyone tries drugs, they too take the path. They are not able to realize the after-effects of having drugs.
  • Money: This illegal activity has been going on for It is an easy way of earning money.

There were many protests and campaigns on drug ban but none of them worked. There are still people illegally selling it and spoiling the lives of innocents.

Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine reduces depression of any sort. There are conditions of extreme depression that can be cured by the application of ketamine Depression Treatment. But the other side of the coin is quite harmful. Ketamine can be used as an option in the replacement of Ecstasy.

In most of the countries, the application of ketamine is restricted only for the use of research or medical practitioner. Most people have not prescribed this drug as it is used mostly in the intense cases of pain. It cannot be used for minor injuries because of the side effects.

There are several deaths reported due to the use of ketamine for recreational purposes. The effects of ketamine include a certain feeling of happiness which is irrelevant to the fact the state the body is in. There are deaths by accidents and drowning reported in England more than the number of nine. There are several deaths which are caused due to accidents by falling from high buildings and platforms. The deaths are caused mainly among youngsters. The use of ketamine has become prevalent in recent years. Since it is extensively in the medical field, the abuse has become very common. The common sale over the counter has been banned in most countries.

The abuse of ketamine had begun mainly in the city of Hong Kong. There are people who had first administered the drug for the post clubbing. The effects were fatal in most of the youth. However, this did not reduce abuse. Like most of the drugs, the abuse of ketamine has been the most among adolescents. Ketamine is also used for people who are trying to self medicate depression or maybe suicidal ideation as well. In fact, psychiatrists are trying to discover the potential of ketamine as it can be used as an immediate relief for suicidal thoughts

Ketamine and Alcohol

There are several side effects of using ketamine and alcohol together. Ketamine is mainly a synthetic drug which when consumed with alcohol can create fatal consequences. The drug when used in combination with alcohol can cause a certain detachment from the self or real conditions.

The working mechanism of ketamine is not well described yet. There are several target centers of the brain that are involved in the excitation by the drug ketamine. There are certain centers that coincide with that of the alcohol target centers. Ketamine and alcohol together is a very dangerous combination for any individual.

Ketamine Versus Alcohol

It is believed by several scientists that the on-off application of ketamine can reduce anyone’s drinking problems. It can disrupt or disturb anyone’s memories which are already lost due to alcohol abuse or alcohol blackout. The depression caused by extreme alcohol abuse can also be reduced by the application of ketamine at lesser levels. Ketamine has been instrumental in curing alcohol-based depression.

Whereas alcohol is involved in the excitation of the depression centers of the brain, the ketamine, in turn, turns on the pleasure centers of the brain. The two together in a mix often cause harmful effects but the problems that arise due to alcohol can be cured by using ketamine in a proper and medicated session.

The use of alcohol is mainly responsible for breaking the mental state of a person. This makes the mind weak and the hormones which dictate the pleasure of the mind are often reduced. This is controlled by the medical and prescribed use of ketamine by any expert.

The recent researchers have tried to find the use of ketamine in reducing depression. This has been useful but as the drug is mostly abused by adolescents, it is deemed to be unethical to be used on human beings. The scientists are trying to find some alternative method to cure depression by using some byproducts of ketamine.

Specialist super using is often required during the experimental set up of these experiments. Most of the experiments are done very carefully to let the users know about the risks involved. However, it is seen that people dealing with alcohol problems respond well to the effects of ketamine. The dopamine levels grow high and the memory functions better for the drinker as well.

Final words

The application of ketamine can show its effects within five minutes of administering it. The effect is manifested for about twenty-five minutes. The effect is not long-lasting but it gives relief from intense pain. The other reflexes of heart and brain often remain proper and no such disturbance is observed. There are cases of deviation from normal reactions. These are the situations in which the cycle is broken and the person suffers from the ill effects of ketamine. As seen from the above points, this drug cures the depression, used in treatments of various diseases and also used in several diagnostic procedures. Validation of medical usage from non-medical to recreational use of the drug is necessary. A drug should only be used as prescribed by the physician or doctor, who knows about the full medical history of the patient.

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