Ketamine basics

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Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic, developed in the mid 1960's, used primarily for veterinary anaesthesiology. Although ketamine is not used medically on humans much because it induces psychedelic episodes in patients, it is still used for some limited human applications because it does not depress breathing or circulation.

Ketamine is used recreationally primarily as a snorted white powder and for therapeutic and psychedelic use it is often injected intra-muscularly (IM). Its effects range (at lower doses) from mild inebriation, dreamy thinking, stumbling, clumsy, or "robotic" movement, delayed or reduced sensations, vertigo, sometimes erotic feelings, increased sociability, and an interesting sense of seeing the world differently to (at higher doses) extreme difficulty moving, nausea, complete dissociation, entering complete other realities, classic near-death-experiences (NDEs), compelling visions, black outs, etc. Ketamine is also known for being more psychologically addictive or compelling than most psychedelics and it is not uncommon to hear of users who take it once or more daily.

Depending on the concentration, form, and method of administration, recreational doses of ketamine range from 30 - 300 mg. The dosage range for insufflated (snorted) ketamine varies widely from about 15-200mg. With doses higher than about 50mg it is advisable to be lying down. Intra-muscular ketamine dosages are generally between 25-125mg. Oral use usually requires more material, ranging from 75-300mg. Law Ketamine is controlled in many countries.

Ketamine hydrochloride is a synthetic chemical in the "dissociative anaesthetic" class.

Ketamine was first synthesised in 1962 by Calvin Stevens at Parke Davis Labs while searching for PCP anaesthetic replacements. He named it "CI581". In 1965 Ketamine was discovered to be a useful anaesthetic and was first used recreationally by Edward Domino who coined the term "dissociative anaesthetic". Ketamine was used for anaesthesia because it suppresses breathing much less than most other available anaesthetics, but in the 1970's patients began to report unwanted visions while under its influence. In 1978, John Lilly published his book "The Scientist" and ketamine popularity grew through the 1980s until in 1995 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the US added ketamine to its "emerging drugs list". In 1998 & 1999, Ketamine was lumped by media and legislators with GHB as a "date rape drug" and a "club drug" and was emergency scheduled by the DEA on August 12, 1999.

Brand names: Ketaset; Ketalar.
The substance: Ketamine; K; Special K; Vitamin K; Lady K.
The experience: Tripping; K-ing; the K-hole

The full ketamine experience is somewhat different than many of the psychedelics because of its nature as a dissociative. At high enough doses, users find themselves completely removed from their surroundings and disconnected from their body and sensations. Descriptions of the experience vary, but many describe alternate planes of existence, fully enveloping meetings and conversations with non-existant people or beings, and life-revelations.

Intra-muscular injection ketamine generally takes one to five minutes to take effect. Snorted ketamine takes a little longer at five to 15 minutes. Depending on how much and how recently one has eaten, oral ketamine can take between five and 30 minutes to take effect.

The primary effects of ketamine last approximately 30-45 minutes if injected, 45-60 minutes when snorted, and one to two hours if used orally.

Negative physical effects can include dry mouth, respiratory problems and nervousness/racing heart. Many people also experience nausea and/or vomiting on ketamine, which can obviously be a problem when taking an anaesthetics or sedatives.

Two psychological difficulties which seem to come up for those who use ketamine regularly are paranoia and egocentrism. There are many reports of regular users starting to see patterns and coincidences (synchronicities) in the world around them which seem to indicate that they are somehow more important or integral to the world than others. This same sense of the world focusing on the user can also feed into a sense of paranoia.

Do not operate heavy machinery. Do not drive.
Do not swim. Avoid bodies of water - at least one death has been recorded where an individual took a bath after using ketamine, and drowned.

Addiction potential
Ketamine has the potential to be both physically and psychologically addictive. Individuals who use it regularly may find it difficult to stop.

- Article used with the permission of Last modified April 2009.

Erowid caution and disclaimer

This Erowid article is a summary of data gathered from Erowid site visitors, government documents, books, websites, and other resources. As this field is complex and constantly changing, information should always be verified through additional sources.

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