Although taking ketamine in a recreational environment seems to be fun for many, it also exposes the user to a large number of risks. The most immediate one is probably the risk of an unwanted experience. For instance, Miss L., a 23-year-old who tried ketamine only once in her life at a disco club, observed:
I felt a bit paranoid, I was going to die. The first effects started very soon. I felt very confused and normal reality just disappeared. I was dizzy and unable to walk. I started bumping against walls. I wanted to go out from the room where I was, but it was very cold. I had no-one close to help me.
The risk of physical harm from accidents, such as bad falls, is also very high. Evidence has emerged from the National Poisons Information Service in the UK, according to which cases of ketamine intoxication rose from 10 in 1995 to more than 100 in 2001.10 Ketamine does not lead to physical dependence, but it can generate a strong psychological dependence, similar to cocaine. Tolerance can be developed quickly, hence a larger quantity is required in order to achieve the same effects. This can lead users to take it in intense 'binges'. An immediate risk of taking ketamine in recreational settings is accidents, such as bad falls. The disconnection from the body can be dangerous in almost any situation other than lying down in a safe environment. In addition to this, ketamine is a powerful painkiller, which blocks normal sensations of pain. Other adverse effects can include panic attacks and depression, and when taken in large doses it can exaggerate pre-existing mental health problems. Stimulant-like weight loss and loss of appetite have also been reported after periods of heavy use. The risks of ketamine use are increased if it is used with depressant drugs, such as alcohol. It can suppress breathing and heart function in rare cases, although more commonly it stimulates these functions. It is more likely to suppress breathing (i.e. give rise to a period of apnea) if taken as a fast intravenous injection. When used with stimulant drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA) or amphetamines, it can also cause high blood pressure. A number of reports in the media suggest that ketamine can be used as a 'date rape drug' as high doses can cause amnesia for events that happened while under the influence of the drug. Three days after consumption of ketamine, impairments of working, episodic and semantic memory have been reported (Morgan et al. 2004a; 2004b). One research study has shown that semantic memory impairments associated with recreational ketamine are reversible after people stop or substantially reduce use. However, impairment to episodic and possibly attentional functioning is longer lasting (Krystal et al. 1994; Malhotra et al. 1996; Morgan et al. 2004b). A problem with these studies is that the authors rarely, if ever, provide urine or hair test results to prove that their subjects are not affected by other drugs at the time of testing. Cannabis and alcohol are particularly likely culprits as many ketamine users smoke cannabis and drink alcohol daily (Jansen 2001). Some users also experience mild forms of schizophrenic-like symptoms and perceptual distortions associated with the use of ketamine for a short period after they have stopped taking the drug (Morgan et al. 2004c). Initially, from its anesthetic use, clinicians reported confusional states, vivid dreams and hallucinations as well as flashbacks (Siegal 1978). The risk of death in general is not high. According to a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, only 12 persons have died as a result of ketamine use (seven in the US, and five in Europe) in the previous 10 years. Only three of these deaths were for ketamine alone (EMCDDA 2003).
Was this article helpful?
Being addicted to drugs is a complicated matter condition that's been specified as a disorder that evidences in the obsessional thinking about and utilization of drugs. It's a matter that might continue to get worse and become disastrous and deadly if left untreated.