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(Ketamine Hydrochloride Special K, K, Dorothy) updated Nov 2009
Also see: urban75 Ketamine info in the House Of Commons!

Ketamine is a short-acting general anaesthetic that has hallucinogenic and painkilling qualities that seem to affect people in very different ways.

First used as a recreational drug in 1965, ketamine - that's 2-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-(methylamino)- cyclohexanone chemcial fans - most commonly comes as a powder, but can also be seen in liquid and tablet form.

Some people describe a speedy rush within a few minutes of sniffing the powder (20 minutes if taken as a pill, quicker if injected), leading to powerful hallucinations and even out of body experiences (the 'K Hole'), along with physical incapacitation.

If you're on a dancefloor, music can sound heavy, weird and strangely compelling, lights seem very intense and physical co-ordination can fall apart along with an overall feeling of numbness.

Some people feel paralysed by the drug, unable to speak without slurring, while others either feel sick or throw up.

Be extremely careful how much Ketamine you take - it's stronger than the same amount of speed or coke and the more you wolf down, the stronger the effects.

Accept that you may well be in for a rough ride with the drug as its effects are unpredictable and sometimes very confusing. Try not to mix it with other drugs, particularly alcohol.

Make sure you take it in a safe environment with friends who know what you're up to. Remember it's an anaesthetic, so if you hurt yourself you may not feel any pain. Like all drugs, it's best to be in good mental and physical health before taking anything.


Side effects: Ketamine blocks nerve paths without depressing respiratory and circulatory functions, and therefore acts as a reliable anaesthetic. This may turn you into a gibbering, spaced out bore, mumbling and slurring away while your dancing may begin to resemble Bill and Ben on acid. Your movements may become as swift as a spliffed-up tortoise crawling across an extra-sticky big bun on a very hot day. You may be unable to move at all.

Health risks: No one knows what the long-term effects of taking ketamine regularly are. Because of its anaesthetic qualities, people have been known to hurt themselves and not realise until the following day. Ketamine should not be taken with respiratory depressants, primarily alcohol, barbiturates, or Valium and because of the uncertain interaction with other drugs, it is advised not to mix ketamine with anything. Large doses could induce unconsciousness which could lead to cardiovascular failure. Although not physically addictive, some users have a developed a strong habit.
external link Enslaved by K (Guardian April 2008)

Memory loss: A BBC report in May 2000 claimed that medical research had shown that controlled tests on ketamine users had revealed impaired memory and mild schizophrenia several days after taking the drug - this appears to have been backed up by external linksubsequent research released in November 2009.

There have been media reports of Ketamine being used as a 'date rape' drug. Make sure you take it with at least one 'straight' friend around.

The Law: Ketamine was classified as a Class C drug under the Under the Drugs Act 2005, with the legislation taking effect from 1st Jan, 2006. The maximum penalty for possession is 2 years in prison and 14 years for supply. You can also get an unlimited fine for both.

fact! Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 by Calvin Stevens at Parke Davis Labs while searching for PCP anaesthetic replacements.
fact! Ketamine was used for anaesthesia, but in the 1970's patients began to report unwanted visions while under its influence.


The urban75 guide to taking K (if K is your thing - it's not ours)

At a party

If you want to take K at a party make sure you're surrounded by (vaguely) sensible friends, and that you feel safe and secure in your situation. Make sure there's people looking out for you, in case you have a bad time.

Unless you fancy plummeting into a K hole and pissing off your hosts, play safe and only take a small amount (known as a 'bump' or a 'Dorothy') - think about half the size of a normal line of coke and you'll get the idea.

We strongly suggest that you don't take nosefulls of K if you're visiting a friend's bar/club night - don't put them in a situation where they have to explain to the owner why one of their friends is a gormless, gibbering oddity.

If you're visiting someone's party and no one's doing K, show some respect and don't do it. After all, it's a party for people to talk, dance and have fun, not a place for you to self-indulgently examine your inner psyche in a slumbering heap on the dance floor.

If you've been invited around a friend's house for a late drink, keep the K to yourself too: it's anti-social, self indulgent and, frankly, what right have you to inflict your monged out, incoherent presence on an affable host?

If you take too much K you can be rendered very vulnerable, so make sure you either have enough time to get it out of your system before heading home or get a friend to take you home.

More info:
» urban75 Ketamine info in the House Of Commons!
» drug assisted sexual assault - advice on prevention
» Ketamine an unpleasant trip. A personal k hole experience

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Special note:
This site is all about harm reduction. We realise that some people will take drugs no matter what advice they are given, so we have reproduced this guide for information purposes only. It is not medical advice. If you are being coerced into taking drugs, or are in any doubt about taking a substance, our advice is to always refuse.

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