Ketamine

Synonyms The most common synonyms are:
  • Cat tranquillizer, Horse tranquillizer, K, Ket, Kitty, Special K, Vitamin K.
Classification Central nervous system disruptor, dissociative anesthetic:
  • Disrupts mental processes, causes varying degrees of disturbances in brain function, perception, mood and cognitive processes.
Visual description
  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Crystals
  • White powder
  • Liquid
Mechanism of action
  • Non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist that blocks glutamate. Also thought to have an effect on dopamine, which would explain its effect on mood.
Routes of administration
  • Most often snorted. Can be added to a cigarette and smoked or mixed with liquids and ingested. Other routes of administration are possible but rare.

Desired effects sought by the user

  • Euphoria (heightened sense of well-being)
  • Floating sensation (dissociative effect)
  • Hallucinations
  • Insensivity to pain
  • Spiritual journeys

Common toxic effects

  • Altered state of consciousness
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fever
  • Hypertension (increased blood pressure)
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Insensivity to pain
  • Memory loss
  • Muscular rigidity
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Nose bleeds
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Slurred speech
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Thought disorder
  • Unpleasant taste

Overdose effects

  • Coma
  • Death
  • Paralysis
  • Prolonged sedation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

Effects associated with chronic use (using ≥ 3 times/week)

  • Colicky abdominal pain (K cramps)
  • Depression
  • Kidney damage
  • Severe urinary tract infection

Tolerance (need to increase the dose to feel the same effect)

Yes.

Addiction

Possible.

Withdrawal

Possible. A user may experience the following symptoms: anxiety, tremors, sweating, palpitations, depression, flashbacks.

Onset and duration of action

Route of
administration
Onset of
action
Duration of
action
Ingested5 to 20 minutes90 minutes
The effect can last a few hours
SnortedA few minutes45 to 60 minutes
Injected intramuscularlyA few minutes60 minutes
Injected into a vein 10 minutes

Intoxication management

  • No antidote available
  • Treatment is mainly symptomatic

Many different street drugs are sold under the same name. Furthermore, nothing guarantees the quantity, purity or even the content of a street drug in spite of the fact that it may, in some cases, look like medication.

If you need help or want to learn more:

Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada.

www.canadadrugfree.org/

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