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What is Ketamine?

What is Ketamine?

Also known as ket or special K

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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Ketamine is a strong tranquilliser and anaesthetic used on animals and humans. Ketamine has become more common in Ireland as a drug in party settings. It can be swallowed as a tablet or snorted as a powder. Sometimes it comes as a liquid. Depending on how you take it, the effects generally start within a few minutes and last 1-3 hours. There have been reports of Ketamine being mixed with cocaine, which is sometimes called a Calvin Klein. As drugs are illegal in Ireland, you can never be sure that what you are taking is what you think it is. If you choose to take ketamine always start with small amounts and take it slowly so you can judge the impact it will have on you. 

What are the effects of Ketamine?

  • It numbs the body and creates the effect of removing you from your sense of reality
  • It is a general anaesthetic which can create a "floaty" feeling, as if the mind and body have been separated
  • Ketamine can slow down movements or make you feel as though you can't move at all 
  • It can create the feeling of being detached from your body and surroundings, this is sometimes called a "k-hole"

Dangers of Ketamine

  • Because it numbs the body, you run the risk of serious injury without even realising you've been hurt
  • High doses of Ketamine can cause serious breathing problems, unconsciousness or heart failure
  • If injecting it, ketamine may damage your veins and lead to abscesses and thrombosis
  • If injecting, sharing needles can pass on diseases such as HIV and hepatitis
  • There is also a risk of choking on vomit whilst unconscious
  • Ketamine can cause confusion, agitation, panic attacks, and damage to short term and long term memory
  • Ketamine can also cause hallucinations, aggressiveness, blackouts and temporary blindness

There is a high risk of becoming psychologically addicted to ketamine, and you could begin to find it hard to cope without it. For more on the dangers on taking ketamine click here

Depression, anxiety and taking ketamine

Long-term effects from ketamine include depression, memory problems and psychotic episodes. If ketamine is mixed with other drugs or alcohol this can increase feelings of anxiety or depression in the days following.

If you have taken ketamine and are feeling depressed or anxious it is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. If you do not feel that you can be honest to friends or family members about taking drugs remember that there are other supports out there that can help. 

Harm reduction advice

If you choose to take drugs remember:

  • Start with a very small test dose and wait at least two hours before taking more
  • Stay with your friends and do not leave anybody who is intoxicated on their own
  • Avoid mixing drugs and alcohol. Every time you mix drugs, including alcohol and prescription medication, you increase the risks
  • Always hydrate with water but don’t drink over a pint an hour
  • If you are dancing, remember to take breaks from dancing and give yourself time to cool down
  • Don't be afraid to get help if you or a friend become unwell or feel suicidal after using drugs. Call 112 or 999

Support services 

  • Online information and support for drug and alcohol use. Includes a national directory of drug and alcohol services
  • HSE Drugs, Alcohol, HIV and Sexual Health Helpline: Freephone 1800 459 459.
  • The Club Drug Clinic offers advice, support and detoxification for GHB (Liquid Ecstasy, G) and other chemsex and club drugs is an integrated person centred specialist addiction service: Tel 016488600
  • Rialto Community Drug Team
  • Find a local service through the National Directory for Drug and Alcohol Services at
  • YoDA (Youth Drug and Alcohol) Service for under 18 support for young people and their families affected by substance or alcohol misuse 01- 9214978.
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Published Feb­ru­ary 19th2013
Last updated June 13th2018
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