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Drug INFORMATION home Ketamine  | The Basics | Effects | Dangers
Addiction & Tolerance | Mixing With Other Drugs | FAQ/ Frequently Asked Questions | Drug Tests | Legality | Helpful Links |

Please note: There have been very few scientific studies into the effects of combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced users. Different people will respond differently to different drugs and drug combination. Know your body, use your head.

The weirdest psychedelic of all: ..and a real damn fine Cat Anaesthetic.

Long used as an anesthetic for children, the elderly and animals, ketamine has evolved into a recreational drug often used during raves.

The Basics: What it is;
Ketamine is a fast-acting 'dissociative anaesthetic'. Rather than blocking pain, like traditional painkillers, it shuts off the brain from the body. With the brain no longer processing information from nerve pathways, awareness expands resulting in a hallucinogenic state.
Since 1970, it has been popular in medicine in the UK and US and all over the world as a safe anaesthetic for children and the elderly.(1) It is also used by vets on animals for short operations, hence it being dubbed a "horse tranquiliser". Find out more about Ketamine's use in medicine here.
Street prices vary, but Ketamine can be bought for as little as € 50 per gram.

Liquid K

is baked to form a powder

(pic ©

Ketamine comes in three main forms. The most common form is white powder which is snorted. It looks like cocaine but is smoother and less likely to form hard rocks or a flowery texture if damp.Most users start out by taking Ketamine in powdered form as it allows them to introduce themselves to the drug with small amounts.
Ketamine also appears intermittently in tablet or capsule form, often masquerading as a brand of Ecstasy with the same meaningless 'dove' or 'mitsubishi' logos.
K pills are usually very diluted and cut with a stimulant like ephedrine (a natural amphetamine-like chemical) to produce a mildly trippy, speedy effect.
Ketamine sold as Ecstasy may be the origin of the "smacky pills" legend.

(pic ©

Ketamine Hydrochloride, intended for use as a hospital anaesthetic, is sold in liquid form in small 10ml bottles, often with the brand names Ketaset, Ketavet and Ketalar.
Some recreational Ketamine users inject this liquid. We strongly advise against injecting Ketamine intravenously. You could pass out immediately.
Avoid drinking it too. Liquid K is very hard on the stomach. Profuse vomiting is possible. If you pass out, you may choke on your vomit.
Do not mix with alcohol.
CK1 is a combination of cocaine or crack cocaine (smokeable cocaine mixed with sodium bicarbonate) and ketamine. The cocaine roots the user in the real world and counters the tendency for higher doses of K to send you into a conscious, paralysed state.

See mixing with other drugs for more information

Effects: What happens when you take K.
At low doses, K is a mild if weird stimulant. At medium to high doses, it becomes a very powerful paralysing psychedelic. It effects are like a combination of cocaine, cannabis, opium, Nitrous Oxide, and alcohol.
When Ketamine separates or dissociates the mind from the body, the brain is freed from the usual business of reacting to sensations from the body. Perception increases to fill the gap vacated by the senses and gives rise to Ketamine's more mind-expanding effects.
The K effect is very rapid. In 10-20 minutes you may find yourself hardly able to move and, at higher doses, even approaching out-of-body and near-death experiences.
At the height of the experience, you may experience dazzling insights, hallucinate and even feel yourself communicating with forces, entities and elements you were never conscious of before.
Users often fall into a deep trance state. Their eyes may move sightlessly from side and side, and their bodies may assume bizarre postures.
Try to tell someone about it and you're likely to mumble monosyllabic and nonsensical inanities.
Some people find it a life-changing and even spiritual experience. Others find it a lonely and unemotional experience. Whatever you make of it - it's intense.
A Ketamine trip usually only lasts between 45 and 90 minutes, regardless of dosage. The experience can be much shorter if you have high tolerance.
The effects wear off very rapidly
After Effects

If you've ever had an operation under anesthetic, you'll recognize that lousy post-operative feeling after a strong Ketamine trip. There are few other after-effects other than this general drowsiness.
You might feel wiped out, a bit achy, and not ready for anything too loud or too complicated. Sometimes you may feel rather disorientated or even a bit shell-shocked, as Ketamine is a very extreme experience at higher doses. Many people feel energized after a Ketamine experience and have a strong urge to move around, dance or stretch.
Long term, some users can be so overcome by what they regard as the superior reality of Ketamine-land that they can retreat from the real world into the K-world. No kidding, really.

Setting for taking K
At high doses, because its effect is essentially an internal and introspective experience, external stimuli like loud music or TV are not particularly satisfying, nor conducive to a good trip.
This is not the case at low level doses, when it acts more like a stimulant.
The brain
Ketamine's effects on the brain are well documented. It mainly binds to and blocks glutamate receptors (also as N-P receptors) all over the brain. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter. It turns on cell activity and is part of the computer-like on / off mechanism that underlies brain activity.
Ketamine blocks glutamate activity, giving rise to either entire cell bank shutdown in some brain areas or changes in the way cell clusters integrate or interpret incoming data in others. Overall, the result is the much famed K-Hole effect: certain brain parts go into temporary hibernation, mainly the senses and physical sensations, while others - imagination, and other unnamed perceptions from the depths of the mind - are amplified.(1)1. Ketamine: Dreams & Realities p.114-6

Ketamine has a very steep dose-response curve. It is a very different drug with very different effects at higher doses.
However, unlike other psychedelic drugs like LSD, Ketamine is a short trip, lasting no more than an hour and a half from start to finish. The duration is not affected by the dose. So if you're not enjoying yourself, it's all over pretty quick.

Common Effects for Snorted Doses:
Low doses (10-75mg)
A small line of Ketamine, up to 50mg, will induce the mild, trippy euphoria that has led to its sale as an alternative to Ecstasy. Smells and tastes seem muted. Visual perception and sense of touch amplified.
Medium doses (60-125mg)
everything in slow motion, buzzing or ringing in the ears, disconnection from your surroundings, loss of co-ordination and in less than ten minutes you can find yourself hardly able to move.
Large doses (100-250 mg)
You're in the K-Hole where it is physically difficult to do anything other than lie in a near-comatose state and stare at the ceiling. In this state some users report life-altering insights about the meaning of life. Others are just scared.
Mega doses (250 mg+)
You're unconscious or possibly dead. You will have no way of telling which one till you wake up.
Oral doses
Swallowing Ketamine results in slightly different effects. The drug goes straight to the liver when it is processed into norketamine. Norketamine has greater numbing, sedating and pain-killing effects and will make it more difficult to walk or move around. The psychedelic effects on the mind also come on slower and the whole experience can be much longer, up to 4 hours. Snorted doses also trigger more 'out of body' effects than oral doses. (1)
Injected Ketamine
Unsurprisingly injected Ketamine is quicker acting and has significantly more powerful effects. Effects after an intravenous (iv) injection begin after 30 seconds and last around 10 minutes.
We strongly advise against intravenously injecting ketamine. You could pass out before finishing the injection.
Intramuscular injection (im) effects begin after 2-4 minutes and last up to an hour.

1. Ketamine: Dreams & Realities p.35

Thanks to its use in medicine, Ketamine is relatively safe compared with most recreational drugs. There have been numerous human clinical trials and its effects, long and short term, are well documented and understood.
Nevertheless, recreational drug use is not controlled medical use
Overdosing on a self-administered dose of Ketamine is nearly impossible because it has a wide safety margin and you will pass out well before it can kill you.
However, Ketamine is not a good drug to take outside the home. You're quite likely to fall down, get run over, or at least make a complete fool of yourself.
Talking, moving or even going to the toilet is not easy; it's important to be in a safe environment with, ideally, one non-participating friend.

Physical Dangers
At high doses, Ketamine can be physically incapacitating, even paralyzing. Make sure you extinguish all cigarettes, candles and anything flammable that could be knocked over.
Long term Dangers
Some emerging research suggests that heavy and prolonged Ketamine use can cause brain damage, in the form of 'Olney's lesions' or 'vacuoles.'
However these vacuoles were found on rats injected with Ketamine and experiments on monkeys have failed to produce similar results. This is probably one reason why the Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) in the US has not removed medicinal Ketamine from the marketplace. (1)1. Ketamine: Dreams & Realities p.241

Addiction & Tolerance: Latest research on Ketamine addiction
Ketamine is not physically addictive, but, psychologically, thanks to its desirable effects and short duration, it can be extremely habit forming. There is now clear evidence of tolerance and dependence. (1)
It should not be taken if you're anything other than emotionally stable and robust. Many regular drug users are completely suprised by the "first addictive psychedelic they have ever encountered" (2)
Bodily tolerance rises quickly with regular use and lasts for about three days.
Frequent users require increasing doses and many report a diminishing of the Ketamine high over time, so that the effect becomes more like a combination of cocaine and cannabis.
Chronic users - mainly those who inject - develop something close to permanent tolerance so, after months of use, are unable to experience the psychedelic effects ever again.
Ketamine does not appear to produce withdrawal symptoms in chronic users. (3) There are anecdotal reports of tension, twitchiness, poor attention span, and restlessness in abstinent long term users, but this may be due more to the sedative norketamine (a breakdown product of ketamine) lingering in the blood stream. (4)

Out Of Your Mind
It did take too long before people began to notice Ketamines unusual side effects.
A significant number of patients treated with the anaesthetic began to report vivid out-of-body experiences. There were tales of fantastical interactions with divine forces and full-on psychedelic weirdness.
These powerful, dream-like insights occurred as patients were regaining consciousness and were consequently termed 'emergent states'.Doctors began adding a tranquiliser to Ketamine injections to block out the effect, but less scrupulous doctors, dentists, vets and academics were leading the way in experimenting with Ketamine at sub-knockout doses.
After the European origins of LSD, this was the first true all-American psychedelic drug. In the words of DM Turner (author of 'The Essential Psychedelic Guide') they had discovered an "intense, bizarre, and enjoyable" new psychedelic.

  John Lilley - experimented with Ketamine and dolphins
The most famous K exponent was John Lilly, a California-based physicist, renowned for his pioneering and fascinating experiments into communication with dolphins. Prof John Lilly became a ketamine addict.

At the same time, Lilly pioneered the use of the isolation tank to induce altered states and then developed a serious Ketamine problem. Over several years, he had numerous brushes with death, including one when his wife found him floating face down in a swimming pool.
Reflecting on the dissociative nature of the Ketamine experience, Lilly wrote a crazed 1978 autobiography, 'The Scientist,' entirely in the third person.
" With his adjusted awareness through the drug K, John felt and understood the currents of information travelling through the galaxy by means unknown at present. He felt the tremendous variety of intelligences which exist in the galaxy. He became aware of the competitive aspects of survival of solid-state intelligences versus those that were water-based."
From 'The Scientist' (1978).
Lilly's candid accounts of his spells in psychiatric wards around America culminated in a misguided attempt to warn US President Ford about a global network's plot to destroy mankind.
" Dolphins are the only beings that can save us," was his message in a Star Trek IV: The Journey Home.
President Ford didn't appear to act on his warning

Mixing with other drugs: Known risks;

Please note: There have been very few scientific studies into the effects of combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced users. Different people will respond differently to different drugs and drug combination. Know your body.
Like all anaesthetics, Ketamine is not a good mixer. Respiratory depressants like alcohol and valium are particularly risky. At anything above a low level dose (50mg or less), Ketamine is so powerful and complete that for most users, combining it with any other drug only detracts from the experience.

Alcohol - Don't - Can cause nausea and vomiting; can also depress respiratory system at high doses
Amphetamines - Some users add amphetamines to lower doses of Ketamine for a more MDMA/Cocaine psychedelic party drug feel
Amyl Nitrate - Ketamine and poppers - what could be more gay?
Cannabis - K amplifies certain cannabis effects, notably closed-eye imagery; no reported problems, but make sure you stub it out before taking K
Ecstasy / XTC / (MDMA) - Some like to take small K 'bumps' towards the end of their E experience; brings back the Ecstasy sensations and adds a psychedelic tinge
Heroin - Counters the psychedelic effects of K; depresses respiratory system so, as a rule, don't
LSD - No reported health problems but can make a weird trip even weirder; increases K's ability to induce out of body experiences; some users report that small amounts can 'ground' the wilder aspects of LSD experience
Magic Mushrooms - Exactly what it says on the packet: simultaneous mushroom and ketamine feelings; time slow downs; no reported health problems
Tobacco - In a Ketamine daze you could burn your house down
Valium don't. - You can't be any more relaxed when you're on K;  Depressants are dangerous with Ketamine, don't push your luck!

Drug-tests Detection Times:
Ketamine is not tested for in standard or advanced drug tests.
However if a specific test was requested, norketamine, the breakdown product of Ketamine, is detectable in blood and urine for 7-14 days and "sometimes far longer" in heavy users.(1)

Legality in the UK and US
In the UK, Ketamine is not a controlled substance under the Misuse Of Drugs Act. This does not make it a legal high. It can only be obtained by a doctor's prescription. So if you were arrested with Ketamine, you could be prosecuted under the Medicines Act for supply without a licence.
The UK
Police have had some success prosecuting under "conspiracy to offer to supply MDMA" laws.
The US
In August 1999, after a high profile campaign and its demonisation as a 'date-rape' drug, Ketamine became a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States, federally illegal to possess without a licence or prescription. (1)

FAQ: Frequently Asked Ketamine Questions

» So Ketamine is a legal high then?
» I heard that Ketamine is just an animal tranquiliser withdrawn from use on people. Isn't that a sign that it's dangerous?
» Is Ketamine just another name for Angel Dust (PCP)?
» Is Ketamine addictive?
» Is it true that some ecstasy pills are really just K?
» Can you smoke Ketamine?
» Is it easy to overdose or die taking Ketamine?
» Can regular use hurt me?
» Will Ketamine show up on a urine drugs test?
» How can an anaesthetic be so psychedelic?
» Is it true that you can only get the full Ketamin trip by injecting it rather than snorting it?
» What is the 'K-hole'?

» Do different brands of Ketamine have different effects?

» So Ketamine is a legal high then?
Not exactly. You can't buy it over the counter or just go and ask your doctor for a prescription. Ketamine is restricted to use in hospitals by the Medicines Act as a prescription only medicine.
Unauthorised supply is illegal and if you are apprehended by the British police with a wrap of 'Special K' powder you will have some explaining to do. Although it is not a controlled substance under the Misuse Of Drugs Act, under the Medicines Act you may be fined and even imprisoned if you have a sufficiently large amount of the drug that you are deemed to be supplying.
In the US, Ketamine is a schedule III drug. Possession and supply is illegal without prescription.
If you know the legal status of Ketamine in your country please email us with the details and source of the information.

» I heard that Ketamine is just an animal tranquiliser withdrawn from use on people. Isn't that a sign that it's dangerous?
Ketamine is not a tranquilliser. Ketamine is used in hospitals all around the world 'for the induction and maintenance of anaesthesia.' It's recommended for us on children and geriatrics because it is very safe and gentle anaesthetic. However, all anaesthetics are very powerful and potentially dangerous drugs, and using them recreationally is a whole different ball-game.

» Is Ketamine just another name for Angel Dust (PCP)?
Ketamine is very similar in its chemical make-up to PCP (Phencyclidine) but is shorter acting and less toxic. Both drugs were patented by the same pharmaceutical giant, Parke-Davis, for use as general anaesthetics.
PCP stopped being used with people because of unpredictable side-effects, including psychotic behaviour. Legal production of PCP has since been discontinued. Ketamine has no history of producing such psychotic side-effects.

» Is Ketamine addictive?
Ketamine does not appear to be physically addictive, but recent research and anecdotal reports do point to Ketamine being extremely habit-forming, especially for injecting users. See our section on addiction & tolerance for more details.

» Is it true that some ecstasy pills are really just K?
This is indeed true. Although Ketamine is very different from Ecstasy, at low doses taken orally and combined with a stimulant like ephedrine it can approximate some kind of trippy euphoria.

» Can you smoke Ketamine?
Smoking powdered Ketamine in a joint is not especially pleasant and will not noticeably speed up the onset of the Ketamine effect.

» Is it easy to overdose or die taking Ketamine?
Ketamine deaths are extremely rare. You will pass out long before you could administer a lethal dose (4.5 grams and above). However Ketamine is a powerful hallucinogen and large doses are not recommended for newcomers to psychedelic experiences.

» Can regular K use hurt me?
Ketamine is relative safe drug compared to other recreational substances. It has been used in medicine all over the world for over 20 years and its pharmcological, short term and long term effects are well known. But like any mind-altering drug, heavy and prolonged use of Ketamine can at the very worst destroy any sense of what is real and leave you uninterested in the relatively mundane, everyday world. Letting any drug take over your life is extremely dangerous.

» Will Ketamine show up on a urine drugs test?
Highly unlikely. Ketamine is not one of the substances tested for in drug tests. For more information on drugtest see our guide here

» How can an anaesthetic be so psychedelic?
This is down to the way that Ketamine works on the brain. As it disconnects your brain from your body, the mind takes over with its imagination. Ketamine has been compared to a waking dream. Enthusiasts claim that when you no longer have the interference of every day bodily sensations, you open up unused senses and spiritual insights. You can find some detailed explanations of brain effects here.

» Is it true that you can only get the full Ketamine trip by injecting it rather than snorting it?
Afficionados claim that injection is the only way to feel the 'true' Ketamine high. In it's pure form, Ketamine is produced commercially as a clear liquid for intramuscular (into a muscle) injections. It is designed to be injected by medical professionals, and we cannot stress strongly enough how dangerous any kind of self-administered injection is. Don't even try to inject K intravenously (into a vein), because you'll pass out before you finish the injection.

» What is the 'K-hole'?
This describes the peak effect of a strong Ketamine trip when users' bodies are virtually paralysed, while the sense of self feels removed from the body.

» Do different brands of Ketamine have different effects?
Pharmaceutical liquid Ketamine is sold under various tradenames, notably Ketalar, Ketaset, and Ketamine 500. Different brands can have different effects. For instance, Ketalar contains the preservative benzthonium chloride, which is an anticholinergic agent which counteracts the effects of the brain neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. It has its own psychoactive effects seperate from Ketamine, mainly "delerium" at higher doses. Ketamine 500 contains the potentially neurotoxic substance, chlorobutanol, which has displayed harmful effects in some animal experments. (1)
It is not known whether these preservative survive the 'cooking' process when converting liquid K to powder.

1. Ketamine: Dreams & Realities p.38 (original source: Malinovsky, JM, Servin, F, Cozian, A, Lepage, JY, Pinaud, M, Souron, R (1993) "Is Ketamine or its preservative responsible for neurotoxicity in the rabbit?" Anaesthesiology 77(2): 203-207

Please note: There have been very few scientific studies into the effects of combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced users. Different people will respond differently to different drugs and drug combination. Know your body.

Long used as an anesthetic for children, the elderly and animals, ketamine has evolved into a recreational drug often used during raves.

Some resource Links that may be useful:

University of Amsterdam Center For Drug Research

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Drug INFORMATION home Ketamine  | The Basics | Effects | Dangers
Addiction & Tolerance | Mixing With Other Drugs | FAQ/ Frequently Asked Questions | Drug Tests | Legality | Helpful Links |

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