Ketamine

AKA: K, Special K, vitamin K

  1. The basics
  2. Highs and lows
  3. Taking ketamine
  4. Ketamine with other drugs
  5. Useful info
  6. The law

The basics

K is an anaesthetic and is sometimes referred to as ‘horse tranquiliser’. It’s one of the chems used in dance clubs or during sex.

Ketamine can come as a powder or a liquid that’s dried to make the powder.

How it’s used

As a powder, K can be snorted, which is known as a bump, or added to drinks.

You should not mix K with alcohol or GBL as the drugs can greatly amplify the effects of one another.

K can be smoked if the powder’s mixed in a joint with cannabis and tobacco. Ketamine powder can also be mixed with water and injected into a muscle, but never a vein. K can also come as a pill.

Read our tips to make taking K safer ››

Highs and lows of ketamine

Ketamine can boost your energy levels in small doses or make you feel high, numb, cut off from your body or in a dreamy, floating state.

K can cause hallucinations and an out-of-body experience that can feel like you're entering a different reality or meeting God or aliens.

The effects last 45-90 minutes if snorted, and up to three hours if injected or swallowed.

The side effects of K can include:

  • dizziness
  • feeling sick and throwing up, which is risky as you might choke on your vomit if you've passed out
  • feeling disorientated and detached from reality
  • racing heartbeat and shallow breath
  • blurred sight and speech
  • bladder dysfunction – in extreme cases even peeing jelly
  • waking up with bruises and injuries – K numbs your body, so it’s easy to injure yourself without feeling pain.

A large enough dose can cut you off from your surroundings and sense of self. This is called a ‘K hole’ and can last for up to 90 minutes. You might find it hard or impossible to move or talk in this state and swallowing or breathing can be difficult.

Taking ketamine

Sex on ketamine

Although ketamine can make you feel horny, it can make it difficult to get a hard-on or come.

K can be used by guys who are into getting fisted as it relaxes the arse muscles.

As the drug makes you feel pain less, rough sex can lead to damage inside your arse or cuts and bleeding that aren’t noticed. This may mean more risk of HIVhepatitis C and other infections being passed on.

Ketamine can lower your inhibitions, which might lead to unsafe sex.

Read more in our section about sex on drugs, or 'chemsex' ››

A long-term relationship?

Overdose deaths are rare, but you can build up a tolerance to K with more needed to get the same result. Some people become dependent on it.

Using ketamine long term might cause mental health problems such as:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • suicidal thoughts
  • memory loss.

If you use ketamine often you might end up with:

  • bladder problems
  • kidney or liver damage
  • stomach pains and blood in the urine.

Ketamine and the bladder

Ketamine can cause scarring and inflammation of the bladder, making you unable to hold much urine and causing you to need to piss very often. These symptoms often lessen when ketamine use is stopped, but in some cases surgery is needed.

Some people have had to have their bladder taken out and be fitted with a bag that collects their urine.

Ketamine with other drugs

Depressants

This includes ‘downers’ like alcohol, GHB/GBL, Valium and barbiturates. As K and other depressants slow the body and its functions down, the combined effect can knock you out and/or slow your breathing and pulse to dangerous levels.

HIV drugs

Some of these, especially protease inhibitors, could theoretically raise the levels of ketamine in your body. If you’re taking protease inhibitors such as ritonavir, you should be very cautious when taking K, as they might affect ketamine metabolism in your body.

MDMA

Mixing K with MDMA is not a good idea as you can end up with dangerously high blood pressure.

Tobacco/cannabis

Smoking cigarettes or joints when using K carries a risk of fires, as K can make you unable to move. There is also a risk of burns as K’s anaesthetic effect can stop you feeling pain.

Useful to know

K is usually snorted in its powder form although some people add it to drinks. However, you should never mix K with alcohol.

Sometimes people smoke K mixed with cannabis in a joint, but smoking it is unpleasant and can damage the lungs.

If you share your injecting equipment there’s a real risk of getting or passing on infections such as HIV or hepatitis C. Injecting can also cause skin abscesses, blood poisoning, life-threatening blood clots or heart infections.

Someone in a K hole should be taken away from music and bright lights and reassured that it’ll be over soon and they will be OK. It can take minutes or hours to come out of a K hole, depending on how much has been taken.

K should be avoided by people who have fits, high blood pressure or heart or liver problems.

The law

Ketamine is a Class B drug. Getting caught with it could send you to prison for five years and you might have to pay a fine.

Selling or supplying it carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison plus an unlimited fine.

Next drug: Sleeping pills ››

‹‹ Previous drug: MDMA

Published: 22/07/2015
Next review: 22/07/2018

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