top of page
Speak to a clinician, without charge, for free, confidential and impartial advice on all aspects of Ketamine addiction, detox,rehab,
Ketamine is what is known as a dissociative anesthetic, this means that, not only will it render someone unconscious, it can also cause someone to hallucinate. Ketamine users will report that their perceptions of both sight and sound are altered thus making the user feel as if they are no longer in control: They feel disconnected. Users feel disconnected from, not only physical pain, but also their environment.
By taking Ketamine, also known as special K, or simply K, the user will experience feelings of serene calmness and relaxation. In addition to pain relief, they will become immobile and will be unable to recall the time they were under the influence of the drug (amnesia). Latterly, and more worryingly, it is increasingly being used to perpetrate sexual offenses by putting it in someone's drink. While Ketamine is produced, commercially, in a number of countries, it is often stolen or diverted from legitimate sources in order to be sold to those dependent on it. Widely used in veterinarian medicine, surgeries are often the target of criminals who want to bolster supplies.
Unlike crack, heroin and cannabis, Ketamine is not normally sold on the street but is usually purchased in nightclubs or at raves and private parties.
How is it abused?
As with other drugs that have become popular on the club scene, Ketamine gained traction within the rave market. Manufactured as both a powder, and in liquid form, it is relatively inexpensive at around £20 a gram (https://www.drugwise.org.uk/how-much-do-drugs-cost/) . Where dealers can not obtain powdered Ketamine, they will use warming trays, hot plates and microwave ovens to convert it to a crystalized form, which is then crushed into powder.
In a liquid form it is a clear liquid, and in a powdered form it has an off white appearance. Usually, dealers will supply it is powdered form (100-200 milligrams) in a small glass vial or a plastic bag. It is not unknown for dealers to deal K in paper wrappers or foil.
What else is it known as?
Aside from Special K, or K, it is also refereed to as:
Special La Coke
When sold in a powdered form, it is usually cut into lines, which are known as bumps and users will snort it or smoke it , by putting it in a cigarette. In liquid form, it can be injected or simply mixed into a drink. Often it is mixed with MDMA, cocaine or methamphetamine.
What is its effect on the mind?
Users will tell you that Ketamine provides more of a trip than LSD or PCP because the effects are shorter in duration, typically 30 minutes to an hour rather than several hours. Slang terms, relating to the effects are not uncommon and include:
"K land" : A mellow and colorful experience
"K Hole" : Out of body/near death experience
"Baby food": Users report sinking into a blissful, infantile inertia
"God": Users are wholly convinced that they have met their maker
Ketamine produces rapid effects and it only takes a few minutes for the effects to take hold. When injected, the effects are even quicker. It is not unknown for users, several weeks after using Ketamine, to report a condition known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). When this happens, the user can experience the same negative side effects as they did when they initially took the drug. Ketamine can also cause agitation, depression, cognitive impairment, amnesia and unconsciousness.
What is its effect on the body?
Very shortly after taking K the user will experience an increase in both heart rate and blood pressure, this spike will begin to drop after about ten to twenty minutes, during this time it is likely that the user will not be able to respond to stimuli. When under the influence of Ketamine at this early stage, the user will experience:
rapid eye movements
tearing from the eyes
If excessive amounts are taken it can render the user unconscious and cause dangerously slow breathing.
Withdrawal from K can last from three days to several weeks. Ordinarily, it is not life threatening but can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms may not start until a day , or up to three days, after use. How long the withdrawals last is dependent on how much K someone has in their system, their tolerance level and length of use. Use of other drugs is also a contributory factor.
During the first 24-72 hours, it is common for the user to experience very acute symptoms which can include tremors, extreme tiredness, inability to sleep, extreme rage, rapid deterioration in mood, hallucinations, delusions, seeing double, feeling sick and loss of hearing together with very fast breathing.
Days 4 to fourteen
The symptoms will, usually, begin to reduce after the end of the two week period.
Ordinarily, the symptoms of withdrawal will have stabilized by then, but nerve cell damage could be permanent
Users of Ketamine often report that urinary tract infections from taking it. This is due to Ketamine damaging the epithelial cells of the bladder lining. The purpose of these cells is to contain urine within the bladder but when they become damaged, urine can seep through and cause damage. This can occur in up to a quarter of of users and has been known about since the early 2000's. Long term use can also damage the gallbladder and, possibly, other organs as well.
What are signs of ketamine cystitis?
Going to the toilet more often
Feeling the need to go more often
Feeling pressure behind the pelvic bone
If someone continues to use Ketamine the symptoms can, not only get worse, but the user may start to see blood in their urine. Furthermore, the capacity of the bladder can be reduced and the bladder wall can become stiff and loses the ability to expand. For serious cases this can mean that need either a partial or full bladder removal. This can also lead to renal failure and the person having to undergo dialysis. This condition can be both debilitating and permanent. Users may need to be permanently catheterized.
How is Ketamine addiction treated in a residential rehab centre?
There is no detox for Ketamine as there is for alcohol or heroin. However, as with all admissions to a residential treatment center, the first stage is a thorough assessment with a clinician. A treatment plan may well include various medications to ameliorate the signs and symptoms of withdrawal. Ketamine, as with cocaine and cannabis (amongst others) is a drug that users stop taking immediately before admission and the aim of the treatment plan is ensure that the user is fully supported in a safe and therapeutic environment during the withdrawal phase which, as above, could be up to two weeks.
While some centers have enhanced medical cover, they can not treat the long lasting effects of Ketamine cystitis and someone seeking treatment may be required to share medical information from their GP and hospital consultant.
Close medical monitoring may be needed for the first few days, especially with regards to pulse and blood pressure monitoring. Medication such as Diazepam or another benzodiazepine for a few days on an as and when required basis may help as may beta blockers and other adjunctive medications.The main focus is on providing a safe, therapeutic and calming environment so that the person can safely withdraw and stay abstinent.
As with all admissions , those entering treatment will be participating in a therapeutic environment based, either on a 12 step or SMART recovery model. In addition, many centers augment this with music and art therapy, yoga, mindfulness, breathing exercises and , for those staying more than a week, individual therapy.
Those in treatment build up a mental toolkit of resilience and techniques to prevent relapse and capitalize on recovery capital: This is using motivating factors for becoming abstinent and learning how to maintain it. Clients are linked in with local support groups (NA/SMART) so that they can continue on their recovery post discharge.
Knowing which is the right centre can be difficult. Always check the CQC registration and, if applicable, the inspection reports. Call Paul to discuss and he can advise you on where to go and what to expect.
Abstinence and recovery is possible.
bottom of page