In This Article:

A Brief Overview of Ketamine

  • By: Andrew Easler, Esq.
  • Published: Sep, 24 2016
  • Updated: Dec, 20 2022

When used legally, ketamine is almost solely used on animals, rather than humans, as a tranquilizer or anesthetic. Because it has legal, accepted medical uses, ketamine is a DEA Schedule III drug. This means that in certain quantities, it is considered safe and legal with relatively low risk for abuse. However, the maximum quantity is set to prevent the possibility of abuse and/or psychological dependence.

Details – What Is Ketamine, and What Does It Do?

Basically, ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic. This means that it creates a feeling of dissociation (detachment) from the user’s environment by distorting their perception of sound and sight. Users can inject, snort, or swallow the drug.

It is sometimes used as a date rape drug, as it can easily be dissolved in a beverage. Typically, when someone is dosed with ketamine, they will feel detached and may have difficulty moving or struggling, making it an attractive tool for attackers.

Ketamine’s Background

Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962, and it was intended to be a replacement anesthetic for PCP. Whereas PCP had a long list of negative, lasting side effects, ketamine was supposed to be a safer alternative. When human testing began two years later, researchers found that ketamine had at least mild hallucinogenic effects. Those side effects were so mild in comparison with preceding drugs, though, that it was determined that ketamine would be safe for human use.

It was not until the 1970s that ketamine became popular for recreational use. It took about a decade for the DEA to react, placing ketamine under the category of Schedule III drugs in 1982. It has been considered a controlled substance ever since.

Street Names for Ketamine

If you hear dealers and users talking about ketamine, they may use its actual name in some instances, but in most cases, you will hear other slang terms, such as:

  • Vitamin K
  • Special K
  • Cat Valium
  • K
  • Super C
  • Super Acid

The two most prevalent brand names for ketamine are Ketalar and Ketalar SV.

Side Effects of Using Ketamine

Some of the most common side effects of using ketamine include nausea, vomiting, and/or loss of appetite. Others may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Death (due to overdose)

Some users have reported psychotropic effects as well, such as hallucinations. Overdosing on ketamine could result in a coma or brain damage.

What Does the High From Ketamine Feel Like?

So what is it like to be on ketamine? Between two and five minutes after ingesting or snorting ketamine, the user will have a very sudden high that will usually last for about an hour. If the user decides to inject the drug, they can expect the high to be even faster, taking only about 30 seconds to begin.

In most cases, the user will first feel completely and totally relaxed. Some have reported feeling like they were floating, while others felt a “full-body buzz.” This is where the dissociative nature of the drug comes in, as users will generally feel detached from their bodies and/or environments.

If the user takes a higher dose, they will typically see at least some mild hallucinations, and these may actually last beyond the high. Some users describe falling into a “K-hole” because they feel completely detached from their bodies as if they are having an out-of-body or near-death experience.

Taking ketamine recreationally is dangerous and illegal. Using it to take advantage of or sexually assault someone else is not only illegal and dangerous but also immoral. While some quantities of ketamine are legal under the right circumstances, any recreational use or possessing a large quantity of ketamine could result in a prison sentence.

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