Ketamine Category: Dissociative drugs
Ket, K, Special K, Keta, Horse Tranquiliser, Vitamin K
Ketamine is what’s known as a ‘dissociative’ and psychedelic type drug. What this means is that it can make people feel detached from themselves but also experience a ‘trip’.
It is an anaesthetic used in human and veterinary medicine. When used as a recreational drug, it can produce feelings of euphoria, stimulation, relaxation, detachment from oneself as well as psychedelic experiences if used in higher doses.
How it’s used
Ketamine is normally sold as a grainy off white powder. It can also appear in pills and when used medically it comes in liquid form.
In powder form it is snorted, put in drinks or swallowed in paper ‘bombs’. Less often people may swallow or inject. Injecting is extra risky and advised against.
Drugs effect each person differently. The effects will depend on personal factors such as your physical and mental health,the setting you are in as well as the dose and potency of a substance.
The effects of ketamine are dose dependent. This means that the effects will vary based on how much is taken. Higher dose are associated with more intense dissociative effects.
- You could feel chilled, relaxed and happy
- Some people can feel energised or stimulated
- You can have an ‘out of body’ experience or sense of detachment
- You may have hallucinations
- Some people experience stomach cramps
- You may feel sick or vomit, especially if used with alcohol
- Ketamine can affect your balance and coordination
- Frequent use can impact of mental health and cause people to feel low or depressed.
- You can’t judge content or purity by appearance. Purity can vary, even within batches.
- Emerging evidence suggests that frequent or long term use could be linked to bladder damage. Symptoms of urinary tract/ bladder concern can include cramps, abdominal pain, difficulty urinating, frequently urinating and blood in urine. Don’t be afraid to discuss these symptoms with a health professional and let them know if you feel they are as a result of ketamine use.
- Using ketamine with other substances increases the risks. For example, if you use with stimulants (MDMA, cocaine, speed) you can put extra strain on your organs. If used with depressant type drugs (opioids, benzodiazepines) you can slow down your heart rate and breathing.
- Ketamine can make you feel sick — ensure anyone who has been taking ketamine and is sleeping (or is unable to move) is placed on their side to prevent choking in case they throw up. Don't put an unwell person in a bath to reduce stomach cramps or to wake them up.
- If you have been sick and comvit, this could impact on medication taken or the contraceptive pill.
There may be potential for dependency for some people. People who use ketamine regularly can develop a tolerance, which means that more is needed to get the desired effects.
What support is available?
Find a service here.
Call the HSE Drug and Alcohol Helpline on 1800 459 459 Monday - Friday 9:30 am - 5:30 pm.
Harm reduction Information
It’s safer not to use at all. If you choose to use ketamine, get information to help you reduce the harms here.
Download the club drug wheel
See our trends and harm reduction section here
Learn about similar substace MXE