Ketamine is used by medical practitioners and veterinarians as an anaesthetic. It’s sometimes used illegally by people to get high.
Ketamine is a dissociative drug, which means it acts on different chemicals in the brain to produce visual and auditory distortion, and a detachment from reality.
When it’s sold illegally, ketamine usually comes as a white or off-white powder. It can also be made into pills, or dissolved in a liquid.
Clinical trials and studies are assessing ketamine as a treatment for depression. Early indications show good results.
How is it used?
Ketamine can be swallowed, snorted or injected. It’s also sometimes smoked with cannabis or tobacco. The effects of ketamine may be experienced within one minute if injected, 5–15 minutes if snorted, and up to 30 minutes if swallowed. Its effects can last for around an hour, however an individual’s coordination or senses may be affected for up to 24 hours after initial use.4
Effects of ketamine
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Ketamine affects everyone differently, based on:
- size, weight and health
- whether the person is used to taking it
- whether other drugs are taken around the same time
- the amount taken
- the strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch)
The following effects may be experienced:
- feeling happy and relaxed
- feeling detached from your body (‘falling into a k-hole’)
- visual and auditory hallucinations
- confusion and clumsiness
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
- slurred speech and blurred vision
- anxiety, panic and violence
- lowered sensitivity to pain.
If you take a large amount of ketamine or have a strong batch, you could overdose.
The risk of death from ketamine alone is low, due to its ability to cause unconsciousness with minimal impact on airway reflexes or blood circulation. However, individuals are at a higher risk of physical harm/accidents while under the influence of the ketamine.
Call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000) if you or someone else has any of these symptoms (ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police):
- inability to move, rigid muscles
- high blood pressure, fast heartbeat
- unconsciousness and ‘near death’ experiences