Ketamine Abuse: Facts & Statistics
Teens may think it’s fun to have an out-of-body experience by using dissociative drugs like ketamine, but these drugs’ long-term effects — such as addiction — are anything but thrilling. If your teen is abusing ketamine, get help now.
- 1.0 What Is Ketamine?
- 2.0 The History of Ketamine
- 3.0 Popular Street Names
- 4.0 Commonly Abused Medications
- 5.0 How Is Ketamine Used?
- 6.0 The Dangers of Mixing Ketamine
- 7.0 Where Do Teens Get Ketamine?
- 8.0 Symptoms of Ketamine Abuse
- 9.0 Effects of Ketamine Abuse
- 10.0 Does My Child Need Rehab?
People who use hallucinogens often exhibit intense emotional mood swings and report seeing, hearing and feeling things that aren’t real. Dissociative drug users may also feel disconnected from their body while high. Although the science behind it is not completely understood, research shows dissociative drugs work, in part, by disrupting the brain’s communication system that regulates sensory perception, sleep, hunger and other characteristics.
In 1999, the U.S. government identified ketamine as a Schedule III controlled substance, the third-most dangerous and addictive class of drugs. Although it has less potential for abuse than higher levels of drugs, ketamine abuse can still lead to physical and psychological dependence.
New forms of ketamine (e.g. capsules, powder and crystals) were introduced in the 1970s, and began being distributed for illicit use. In the mid-1980s, ketamine grew in popularity in dance cultures as an adulterant of ecstasy.
Use, purchase and sale of ketamine at parties, dance clubs and raves has only grown since then, solidifying it as a “club drug.” Ketamine is also known as a “date rape drug” and is often used to facilitate sexual assault because it’s odorless, tasteless and produces an amnesia effect.
- Special K
- Vitamin K
- Cat Valium
The user will feel the immediate effects of the drug — mainly hallucinations — for up to one hour after injection, but they may continue experiencing impaired senses, judgement and coordination for up to 24 hours after use.
Combining ketamine with depressants like alcohol and opiates can knock the user unconscious quickly and unexpectedly. It may cause the user to stop breathing or choke on their own vomit. Combining ketamine with stimulants like ecstasy and cocaine may be too much for the user’s heart to handle. The chance of injury is also heightened — the stimulants will mobilize the user’s body, even though the ketamine may give them the feeling of disassociation.
Once evaporated into a powder or compressed into pills, ketamine is often bought and sold at nightclubs, parties and raves.
While using the drug, your teen may experience:
- A distorted sense of time, motion, colors, sounds and self
- Feelings of detachment from their body and environment
- Loss of coordination
- Memory loss
- Little or no pain
When taken in high doses, ketamine may produce nightmarish or near-death experiences that can be very frightening to the user, often referred to as a “K-hole.”
If your child has a ketamine problem, you may notice some signs, including:
- No reaction to painful stimuli like a cut or burn
- Slurred speech
- Slow motion or exaggerated movements
Users can experience ketamine withdrawal for 4–5 days after discontinuing use. Although withdrawal from dissociative drugs causes some physical symptoms like a craving for the drug, headaches, sweating and tremors, it’s more common for users to experience psychological symptoms that include anxiety, depression and nightmares.
Because ketamine can be injected, and is also sometimes used as a date rape drug, users may also be at an increased risk for HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases.
- Attention, learning and memory deficits
- Dreamlike states
- Problems speaking and moving
- Memory loss
- High blood pressure
- Slowed breathing that can lead to death
- Psychotic episodes
- Respiratory depression
- Heart rate abnormalities
- Bladder pain
- Stomach pain
- Kidney problems
- Poor memory
Seek out the advice of a medical professional who can provide educated substance abuse support. In some cases (especially if they find that addiction is present in your child), they may even recommend pursuing a treatment plan.
At TheRecoveryVillage.com, we speak with many parents who are dealing with situations similar to yours. Our addiction experts are available to answer any questions you may have, confidentially and free of cost. Don’t wait to act if you notice signs of substance abuse or addiction in your child — the sooner this is resolved, the brighter your child’s future can be.
- “Research Report Series: Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs.” NIDA for Teens. National Institutes of Health, Feb. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
- “Resources – Controlled Substance Schedules.” DEA Office of Diversion Control. U.S. Department of Justice, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
- “Ketamine | CESAR.” CESAR (Center for Substance Abuse Research). University of Maryland, 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
- “What is Ketamine? Street Names & Side Effects.” Drug Free World: Substance & Alcohol Abuse, Education & Prevention. Foundation For A Drug-Free World, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
- “Ketamine.” Drug Science ~ ISCD. Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.
- Vogt, Amanda. “3 Teenagers Accused Of 30 Break-ins.” Tribune Digital – Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune, 25 Jan. 2000. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.
- Doward, Jamie. “Teenage Ketamine Problems Rising, Drug Charities Warn | Society | The Guardian.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 30 Apr. 2011. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.
- “Intelligence Bulletin: Ketamine.” National Drug Intelligence Center. U.S. Department of Justice, July 2004. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
- “Ketamine: How Drugs Affect You by Australian Drug Foundation.” Issuu. Australian Drug Foundation, 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.
- “Commonly Abused Drugs Charts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). National Institutes of Health, Jan. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
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