• Ketamine is an anaesthetic usually administered to animals. It can also be used medically on individuals who have had adverse reactions to other anaesthetic medications or on those who require sedation but cannot cope with stronger anaesthetics

  • The drug elicits a dreamlike state. In small doses, it can create a feeling of euphoria and waves of energy. Often confused with ecstasy, its relatively low price has contributed to its continued popularity at club and dance events.

  • Also known as Special K, Vitamin K and K, the drug delivers a short-lived high. A user’s tolerance builds up quickly and increased quantities need to be consumed to experience the initial effect

  • Depending on the amount consumed, the user may find it difficult to move; an effect that accounts for its frequent use as a date-rape drug. At extremely high doses, users have reported feeling an out-of-body or near-death experience, referred to as a ‘K-Hole.’

  • When ketamine is abused as a recreational drug, users experience a detachment from themselves and their surroundings. Especially popular in the club scene, ketamine can be injected, snorted, consumed in drinks or added to joints or cigarettes.

The immediate physical effects of taking Ketamine are similar to those of exercising; an increase in heart rate, cardiac output and blood pressure. Due to the unpredictable nature of the drug, an overdose can occur even after taking a theoretically small amount. In fact, respiratory failure is the leading cause of death from a Ketamine overdose.

As the drug is a tranquilliser, users may feel numb, rendering them vulnerable to accident and injury. At worst, complete loss of mobility may occur, leaving them unable to ask for help.

While the high may be short-lived, users can experience prolonged side effects. From flashbacks of hallucinations and feelings of anxiety to loss of coordination and muscle weakness, the ketamine comedown can be severe.

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When users develop a tolerance for the drug, chasing the initial high can often spiral into abusive behaviour. The signs of addiction become more severe with long-term abuse. There are several tell-tale signs to be aware of.

Users may demonstrate an increasing difficulty with learning or thinking. From unusual mellowness or depression to amnesia, individuals may exhibit an increasing disassociation from themselves. Changes in perception can lead to agitation, hallucinations and even delirium.

Slowed breathing, fluctuations in blood pressure and involuntary muscle movements are all physical symptoms that should arouse suspicion.

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