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AKA K, Special K

Oct 10

The Drug

Ketamine is a powerful general anaesthetic which is used for operations on humans and animals. This is why the media often call it “horse tranquiliser”. It also has applications in human medicine for pain relief for extreme trauma such as severe burns or amputation. It can also have hallucinogenic effects when used non-medicinally.

Ketamine is usually a white, grainy, odourless powder, but also occasionally comes in liquid form.

Its effects can be euphoric but can also be unenjoyable particularly to inexperienced drug users. Taking it will result in physical numbness and disconnection with your surroundings. In large doses it can lead to intense hallucinations and a sort of out-of-body experience known as a “K-hole”. Studies have shown prolonged use can cause addiction and other serious health problems, particularly with the bladder, as well as affecting memory.

The cost varies regionally but is as low as £20 a gram in many areas.

Also known as: K, Special K.


Snorting the drug makes the effects start quickly, usually within 5-20 minutes and they last for about an hour. You should take much less than you would if taking a line of cocaine, for example, probably less than half that amount. Taking a big line will not necessarily mean you will have a more enjoyable time, it could be a reckless decision you would soon begin to regret.

People on ketamine feel relaxed, often euphoric. It can make you feel detached from your body, like a floating sensation. You may have difficulty in getting up or walking.

Ketamine can be a powerful hallucinogenic drug. Some find it unpleasant or frightening. A higher dose can give the experience of a “K-hole” can be a profound drug experience to some but equally disturbing to others.

Long term use can lead to K cramps in the lower stomach making it difficult to move. This is a sign your ketamine use is damaging your internal organs.


Ketamine is able to block physical pain very effectively. For less experienced users this is a novel sensation and once intoxicated can result in risky behaviour leading to physical injury. It is quite common to feel some bumps and bruises the next day.

Heavy ketamine use can have bad effects on your memory which can be very disruptive to your study or work.

Over time ketamine can become addictive. If you end up needing more and more of it to get the same feeling, you are probably starting to develop a ketamine problem.

Heavy users of ketamine can find they have permanently damaged their bladder by developing a medical condition called ‘ketamine-induced ulcerative cystitis’. The bladder shrinks in size and becomes hard. The lining of the bladder is damaged. Many regular users often need the loo more and feel a painful burning sensation when they go. The condition cannot be cleared up easily like cystitis such as taking some antibiotics. If this happens you should obviously stop taking the drug. Severe cases of ketamine-cystitis require the surgical removal of the bladder. If you take ketamine and have symptoms of cystitis, then you should seek medical help.

Be Safe

Ketamine is a powerful experience and there are many people who would not take it a second time. They find it unsociable and isolating compared to other club drugs. Alcohol and ketamine are a bad mix and often causes vomiting.

Like any drug you should not engage in risky behaviour and always look out for your friends. Some users have drowned while taking a bath. It is best taken in low doses, indoors, in a safe environment with friends.

The Law

Ketamine is a Class B drug, which means it is illegal to possess or supply.  Being caught in possession of even very small amounts would likely result in your arrest. You may be offered a caution for possession. This means you accept the offence and will have a criminal record.

There is also a smaller chance you will be charged with the offence and will have to appear in court where you will most likely be fined or possibly face some community service.

What are the risks with ketamine?
Ketamine makes people uncoordinated so they are prone to injuries that aren’t properly felt at the time. Its anaesthetic qualities impair judgement and can cause confusion, leaving some people vulnerable to theft or sexual assault. It is a powerful anaesthetic so its effects can feel too intense with an inability to carry out simple actions. Batches of ketamine vary in strength so it is difficult to measure a ‘safe’ dose causing some people to fall into a ‘k-hole,’ which describes over-intoxication, loss of mobility, hallucinations and tunnelled vision.


Did You Know…?

Prolonged use of Ketamine will lead to bladder problems by stripping the bladder lining.

Source: Long term users of ketamine warned of serious health risks

Ketamine is an anaesthetic not a tranquilliser.

Source: ACMD Ketamine Report (2004)