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Drugs 101: Ketamine

Ketamine is a drug used to start and maintain anesthesia, because of its pain killing properties, sedation, memory loss, and trance like effects on users.  It’s sold under the brand name Ketalar, and is a schedule III controlled substance. On top of being a general anesthetic, Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist. Simply stated, ketamine dissociates users, which provides a powerful medical use as a sedative for operations.

When taken in a non-medical setting, the dissociative effects of ketamine are described as nearly psychedelic. Users typically report “out of body” or “near death” experiences on the drug, which many users have coined the “K-hole”. While I’m not one to pass judgment on drug use, don’t take Ketamine if you have a condition that would be made worst by a massive increase in blood pressure, or if you’re currently taking droxidopa.

Ketamine comes in powder and liquid form. The liquid form (picture right) is administered intravenously in a medical setting, and effects begin to take effect within 5 minutes. Ketamine only has a biological half-life of about 2.5-3 hours, making it much shorter last than some of it’s other dissociative family member’s. When insufflated or injected, its psychedelic effects last approximately 1 hour, and 2 hours when ingested orally.

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A majority of the recreational Ketamine found in America can be traced back to Mexico. In Mexico, Ketamine can easily be imported from Asian countries like India for as little as $5/gram, making its prevalence on the streets of America almost inevitable. Unfortunately, this drug is used for date rape, because it leaves users in a state of dissociation and lack of physical control at higher doses.

Ketamine has seen the rise in off label use for the treatment of depression. Princeton researchers have conducted trial runs, and the previous source cites multiple patients that claimed to have experienced life altering positive benefits in their fight against depression. While no published scientific research exists yet, the patients undergoing the trials were given six shots over the course of two weeks with maintenance shots when needed. Further research will have to be done to determine the long-term health effects of taking ketamine.

While Ketamine can induce a strong recreational buzz and isn’t fatal when dosed properly, the UK saw over 90 deaths between 2005 and 2013 due to recreational overdose. A majority of the fatalities were among young adults. Ketamine is no escape from the real world, and is an incredibly powerful substance that serves vital medical roles. Vice reported in 2014 on the tragic and destructive power this dissociative can have on a young adults body. Ketamine isn’t just a party drug. It’s a powerful dissociative used to allow doctors to perform surgeries that would be otherwise impossible.

Ketamine saw it’s rise to club drug status along with Ecstasy in the 1980’s, but never saw the same levels of popularity due to easily induced black outs and slurring of speech. Ketamine has also been reportedly sold as Ecstasy. Since the 1990’s, European and Asian countries have seen growing ketamine use, whereas America has seen its numbers decline. DNMs have only made it easier for the worldwide demand for ketamine to be met. Now anyone, anywhere in the world can have ketamine ordered right to his or her doorstep.

While ketamine use relatively small (with 18-25 year olds use rates peaking at .02%), over 500 emergency room visits involving ketamine were reported in 2009. Ketamine can find its way onto the streets via theft of legitimate distributors, or diversion from semi legitimate suppliers. Like PCP, liquid ketamine is often times soaked onto cigarettes for inhalation.

Studies placed ketamine in the middle when compared to the danger rates of 19 other recreational drugs. This measure only looks at fatalities, but even when measuring the danger of ketamine from self harm it still places in the middle when compared to the risks of other drugs. Non-fatal risks associated with ketamine include intense depersonalization and ego loss or ego death.

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While I’m not condoning or discouraging any form of drug use, I hope to provide a non-biased report of the drugs I cover. Addiction is a mental illness, and if you see dissociative as a way to escape reality then you might be looking at recreational drug use the wrong way. If you’re feeling depressed, don’t take ketamine as your first step towards recovery. Instead talk to your doctor about SSRIs and psychotherapy. If all else fails, a little Bit of Coin can typically Net the results you’re looking for.

6 comments

  1. Higgledy-Piggledy

    “Addiction is a mental illness.” I was surprised and disappointed to read this cliche on this website. It’s completely flawed thinking. Illness can only only be a cellular phenomena. To claim otherwise is to make a mockery of medicine and the foundations of histology. Ideas and behavior cannot be ill. They can only approved or condemned by the consensus of society.

  2. Higgledy-Piggledy the reality is addiction is both a physical and mental illness. In regards to addiction of opiates it is certainly a physical illness due to the cellular response on the endogenous opiate system and resulting physical dependency. Many people get addicted to opiates because they simply don’t know that the substance causes severe physical sickness when not taken. Inability to sleep for 5+ days, vomiting, convulsing, extreme pain compared to childbirth by women, and many other symptoms.

    Most other drugs fall under the mental category such as cocaine and ketamine where cessation of use doesn’t make you physically ill but tendency to re dose is high on a habitual level.

  3. “the reality is addiction is both a physical and mental illness.”
    Thanks for your comments, Random, but you are confusing categories. Would you call a migraine sufferer mentally ill? How about a Russian PhD who speaks English poorly? Your inability to grasp this nuance results in a massive denigration of human agency (free will) and erases the distinction between physical and mental phenomena. To reiterate, calling heroin addiction a mental illness is an outrage to medical science since it completely destroys the basis for rule of law (as seen in the insanity defense). It is a covert way of eschewing responsibility for actions. One might well ask what is the difference between a neurologist and a psychiatrist? The answer is that the former deals with quantifiable phenomena, whereas the latter deals exclusively with the hidden values of society, i.e. how to handle deviancy. (Nowadays psychiatrists are mostly pharmacy hacks.) Calling a rich person who suffers from the megrims mentally ill could get you slapped with a law suit but to say he has inflammation of cephalic arteries would make him reaffirm your and his professional status.
    As Lenny Bruce said, “A person is only bad because he wants to be.” It is cringe-worthy for addicts, their mothers, and their well-paid rehab counselors to absolve themselves for crimes committed, great and small, by merely chocking it up to “mental illness” (Did heroin force them to break into that house?) This detestable state of affairs exists as a get out of jail free card, so to speak, not a viable claim for a medical laboratory.

  4. It may seem that we are nit-picking or hairsplitting over semantics, but actually billions of dollars are involved in this canard. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies, titans of the modern world, must maintain a consensus lock-down on the definition of mental illness. The insanity defense rides on a faith that mind states can, of themselves, be sick the way a kidney can when it exhibits cellular damage and loss of function. A kleptomaniac could pass a PET scan perfectly, without a trace of physiological damage to his brain showing up. So which set of neural circuits FORCE him to shoplift? If we are all nothing more than our synaptic connections how can we be blamed for anything?? Your crimes could be considered just faulty wiring.
    No one is denying that addictions can create powerful changes in cognition and endocrine function. What is up for serious dispute is how society should view and treat people in these circumstances: As victims no different from those of assault who deserve insurance payouts? Or as thinking, feeling, accountable people, agents of their own volition, expected by the contract with society to be responsible for their acts, which may include crimes against others?? The man bit by a centipede might know it is not in his best interest to scratch the bite, since it will inflame and prolong the pain. But the compulsion could be overwhelming to do so and he gives in. He acted against his best interest because of extreme changes in his body which he felt necessitated a certain action. But did he not choose to scratch it the same way a junky didn’t choose to break into your car as he walks off with your stereo? Was he insane? Was he mentally ill?? In the one case it’s damage to himself, in the other it’s damage to someone else in the form of loss of property and possible duress therefrom. Calling Putin a vile dictator might get you kidnapped in Moscow and sent to a place where you could learn otherwise, getting all the treatment a mentally sick person like yourself needs, but in Chechnya you just might get a statue of yourself raised in a park for it. A Moscow psychiatrist would call you crazy and unfit for society, but in Grozny heads of state would toast you at a gala dinner before hearing your lecture on Putin’s illness of megalomania.

    • INFINITE APPLAUSE

      Your summary analysis of the article was better than the article itself. Am afraid to announce that critical thinking and intellectual honesty in today’s world is in dire shortage. Thanks you!

  5. Your Annoying Friend

    With respect to the comment on the insanity defense, I must say it is not simply characterized by brain impulses but the mental state of the defendant,i.e., whether he or she knew what they were doing was wrong. They have to be able to know what they did was wrong, thus, a drug addict can’t get away with murder, unless maybe he hired Analise Keating.

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