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Ketamine Abuse Fact Sheet

Facts About Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine considered a Schedule III drug, is a powerful sedative and dissociative, which means that it can make the person using it feel detached from reality. Originally developed as a tranquilizer for medical purposes, ketamine is now widely used recreationally.

Appearing as either a white powder or a liquid, ketamine is used legally by medical professionals as an anesthetic, but some people use it illegally because of the psychedelic effects, euphoria, painlessness, and out-of-body sensations it produces. It’s often used at raves and clubs.

When it is used as an illicit drug, Ketamine can be smoked, injected, swallowed, and snorted. When used incorrectly, ketamine can cause paralysis, hallucinations, seizures, and other major medical problems.

It can also be addictive and is sometimes used as a date-rape drug because it causes temporary paralysis and memory loss.

Brand names for ketamine include Ketalar®, SpravatoTM (esketamine), Ketanest, Ketajet, and Ketaset. It’s also known by its street names: K, Special K, Super K, Vitamin K, Cat Valium, Cat Tranquilizer, Jet, Kit Kat, and Purple.

Who uses Ketamine?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "Teenagers and young adults represent the majority of ketamine users. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, individuals aged 12 to 25 accounted for 74 percent of the ketamine emergency department mentions in the United States in 2000."

The use of Ketamine in Universities is of concern at parties and social gatherings. Drug-facilitated sexual assaults and sexual assaults, in general, are often not reported, but according to RAINN, "13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students)."

Ketamine Facts: Risk of Abuse

People have widely varying reactions to ketamine. Its effects tend to appear quickly, depending on how it’s ingested. Smoking ketamine causes immediate effects; snorting brings effects within about 10 minutes and oral ingestion causes effects within about 20 minutes.

The high from ketamine normally lasts for up to two hours.

Short-term Side Effects of Ketamine

  • Sedation
  • Hallucinations
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Eye movements
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pains
  • Vomiting
  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Reduction in or elimination of pain
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or moving
  • Pleasurable or trance-like feelings
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Higher blood pressure

Long-Term Effects

  • Damage to the liver, kidneys, and digestive tract
  • Urinary tract and bladder issues (“K bladder”)
  • Brain damage

How Teens and Young Adults Use Ketamine

Teens and young adults ingest ketamine in several different ways:

  • Injecting the liquid form
  • Snorting the powder
  • Mixing the powder into a drink
  • Smoking the powder by adding it to marijuana or tobacco
  • Ingesting the powder orally (“bombing” or “dabbing”)

Signs of Ketamine Addiction

If you’re concerned that your child could be abusing ketamine, watch for the following signs:

  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Seeming “out of it”
  • No feelings of pain
  • Loss of memory
  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Itchy skin
  • Sudden changes in personality
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of interest in relationships, work, school or other activities
  • Drug paraphernalia (needles, pill packets, cigarette paper, bottles, plastic bags, white powder)

If your teen or young adult is displaying one or more of these signs, you should strongly consider finding treatment for them.

What to do if Your Child is Abusing Ketamine

Ketamine is a high-risk substance – if your loved one is abusing ketamine, it’s important to get professional treatment as soon as possible. Teens and young adults often experiment with party drugs as a means of testing their limits.

Some of those actions can show potential for abuse and have dangerous, long-term physical and mental health consequences.

If you’re concerned that your child is using ketamine and aren’t sure what your next steps should be, the team at Sandstone Care can help. We’re available seven days a week to answer your questions on how to approach your child and explain your options for getting them help.

Let’s Take the Next Steps Together

We understand taking the first step is difficult. There is no shame or guilt in asking for help or more information. We are here to support you in any way we can.

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