Ketamine

Ketamine hydrochloride is a central nervous system depressant that was developed in the 1970s as an anesthetic for humans and animals and is now used illegally by young people attending 'raves' or all-night parties. Ketamine may also be referred to as K, Vitamin K, Special K, and Kit Kat.

Abuse

Since 2002, when Monitoring the Future started tracking ketamine use among the U.S. college population, annual prevalence rates have hovered at around 1 percent. Coming in liquid and powder forms, ketamine may be injected, consumed in drinks, snorted, or smoked. The primary source of ketamine is via diversion of pharmaceuticals. Veterinary clinics have been robbed for their ketamine supply, and ketamine supplies have been diverted from pharmacies in Mexico.

As with GHB and rohypnol, ketamine has been used as a so-called date rape drug due to anesthetic and dissociative effects. With its fast-acting and long-lasting effects, ketamine can render an unknowing victim unconscious and unable to resist sexual assault. Even with recreational use, ketamine can cause incapacitation, leaving users vulnerable and prone to amnesia.

Consequences

Ketamine users can experience a dissociative state, resulting in out-of-body or near-death experiences. Ketamine's effects include hallucination, sexual stimulation, heightened or impaired perception, amnesia, impaired coordination, paranoia, and aggressive or violent behavior. Ketamine can increase cardiac output, which can cause a heart attack or stroke, convulsions, depressed respiratory function, coma, and death.

With a high lasting from one to six hours, ketamine can leave residual effects in users lasting as long as two days. Chronic abusers may experience increased tolerance and dependence and may feel effects such as flashbacks for months or years after discontinuing use.

As ketamine is sometimes sold in a mixture with other drugs or misrepresented as ecstasy, users also risk unknowingly ingesting the drug, or being unaware of how the drug may affect them.

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