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special K, vitamin K, K



Ketamine was developed in the mid 1960s and is an anaesthetic drug legally produced for use in human and animal medicine, although it is rarely used in humans due to the side effects.


method of use

A tiny amount of powder is an active dose (30mg–50mg). It can be snorted up the nose, swallowed or injected.



Ketamine is usually bought as a clear liquid but may also be bought as a white power or crystals.



The effects of low doses of ketamine can be mildly stimulating, however as doses increase the analgesic and anaesthetic properties of the drug are experienced. Users report floating sensations, numbness in the limbs, loss of sense of time and disconnection from the body. With high doses people may lose their speech and ability to use their limbs, there is also a risk of losing consciousness.


health risks

Ketamine use is linked to a range of short term and long term health risks. In the short term users may become confused, disoriented and suffer from memory loss. A persistent dripping nose, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps may also occur. These symptoms usually disappear within days.

In the long term there is clear evidence for damage to the urinary tract and bladder. Users may experience pain on urination and blood in the urine, which can lead to permanent bladder damage. Longer term use can also lead to more persistent depression, lack of energy and anxiety.


safer injecting

Injecting ketamine brings the additional risks of damage to the veins, skin infections and contracting blood borne viruses such as hepatitis or HIV. Injectors should seek advice from the needle exchange at BDP. No injecting equipment should ever be shared.


safer clubbing

Although it is important to drink lots of non-alcoholic fluids when using drugs in a hot club, drinking too much can kill. A user dancing in a hot club should drink only one pint of water per hour, not more, and eat something salty to replace lost body salts.

Remember to take time out and cool down.

If someone is panicky and starts breathing rapidly, take them to a quiet place and calm them down by reassuring them that they are safe. Do not give them anything to eat or drink other than sips of water. Help them to breath slowly in and out.

If someone collapses (eyes rolled back, erratic breathing, skin cold and clammy) call an ambulance, tell them what they have taken.


dependency and tolerance

Ketamine users can find they need to use higher and higher doses, using more frequently than intended and becoming psychologically dependent too. Users often report feeling depressed and anxious when trying to stop their ketamine use and may need help with managing this.


harm reduction

Ketamine users are advised to keep their use as low as possible and to use with people they can trust and rely on.   It is important to seek medical help for urinary tract problems and to get in touch with BDP for support with detox if wanting to stop. Users are advised not to mix ketamine with other drugs or alcohol and not to sit in a bath to relieve stomach cramps as there is a risk of drowning.

If you are around people who are using ketamine and who are panicky and breathing rapidly, take them to a quiet place and calm them down by reassuring them they are safe. Do not give them anything to drink other than sips of water and help them to control their breathing. Call an ambulance if necessary and tell them what they have taken.


the law

Ketamine was re-classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971, as a Class B substance on 10th June 2014.

Published in Alcohol & Drugs