While ketamine does offer some therapeutic value, there is a risk for abuse and addiction. When people use ketamine in high doses, they may experience euphoric effects and even out-of-body experiences. With ketamine abuse, people tend to feel as if they are nearly unconscious. Ketamine can be classified as a hallucinogen, a tranquilizer, and it also has dissociative effects. Ketamine is considered to be a club drug when used recreationally, and is used as a date-rape drug as well.
Ketamine abuse can not only cause a loss of consciousness but also create the feeling of being detached from one’s surroundings. People using ketamine can feel like they’re floating outside their own body, an effect commonly described as the “k-hole.” Other effects of ketamine abuse can include changes in perception, troubling thinking, nausea, changes in eyesight, uncontrollable eye movements and muscle stiffness. Symptoms can also include slurred speech, slow heartbeat, changes in behavior, amnesia and pressure in the eyes and brain. When ketamine is used in medical settings, it is often combined with other drugs in order to prevent hallucinations.
Street names for ketamine can include KitKat, Cat Valium, Vitamin K, Special K, and Ket, among others. People who abuse ketamine take it in the form of a pill, mix it with another substance, such as marijuana and smoke it, cook it to form a white powder that can be snorted, or make a liquid form that can be ingested orally. The effects of ketamine abuse become apparent within a few minutes and usually start to wear off within an hour. When someone takes very high doses of ketamine, they may be unable to move or communicate. Some people find this to be a desirable effect, while others consider it to be a frightening, adverse side effect. People who abuse ketamine may also experience psychosis, high blood pressure, breathing problems and seizures. There is an additional risk for someone who is abusing ketamine to hurt themselves or others since they are separated from reality and unaware of their surroundings.
In addition to these short-term adverse side effects, there are long-term risks associated with ketamine abuse as well. The long-term effects of ketamine abuse may include mental disorders and psychological problems. Abusing ketamine can increase the risk of developing depression, kidney and bladder problems, and permanent memory loss.
When ketamine is used in combination with another substance it can cause fatal toxicity. If ketamine is combined with a central nervous depressant, like alcohol, it can cause sedation that results in death. There is a high risk for overdosing on ketamine because it takes a significant amount of the drug to produce the effects that people abusing the drug desire.