The abuse of ketamine has increased in recent years because of the intoxication caused by high doses of the drug. According to the NHTSA, “it is difficult to synthesize clandestinely and is usually stolen from veterinarian offices or diverted from legitimate pharmaceutical sources.” Though users take the drug to experience its pleasurable high and hallucinogenic effects, below are 10 dangers of ketamine use you should know.
1. Impaired Judgement
According to the DEA, “A ‘Special K’ trip is touted as better than that of LSD or PCP because its hallucinatory effects are relatively short in duration, lasting approximately 30 to 60 minutes as opposed to several hours.” However, an individual can still endanger themselves during a ketamine high as result of their hallucinations and delusions. In addition, the drug’s ability to affect the individual’s judgement and coordination can last much longer, “up to 24 hours following initial use” (CESAR).
Ketamine can cause flashbacks for those who abuse the drug after they are no longer intoxicated. This effect can even occur in those who haven’t been taking the drug for a long period of time as opposed to other hallucinogens, which often do not cause flashbacks until long-term abuse has occurred.
“One of the most dangerous effects of ketamine is the helpless and/or confused state the user may be put into after use of the drug.” The numbness, weakness, and impaired vision caused by the drug can put an individual in a highly vulnerable situation. This is one of the reasons ketamine is often referred to as a date rape drug and is used to commit acts of sexual assault.
Many users take the drug in high doses in an attempt to experience the K-hole: an “out-of-body, near-death experience” (DEA). However, this desired effect often occurs directly before an overdose which can put users in extreme danger.
5. Respiratory Depression
Severe respiratory depression is one of the most harmful side effects of high doses of ketamine. Abusing the drug can lead to extremely shallow breathing or even respiratory failure. This can result in brain damage and death if the individual is not treated quickly enough.
Tachycardia or a “dramatic increase in heart rate” often occurs when individuals abuse large doses of ketamine (CESAR). This can lead to other heart-related problems, especially if the drug is abused in the long term.
Tolerance occurs extremely quickly among ketamine abusers which can cause them to continue taking the drug in higher doses each time. This increases the chances of addiction and overdose.
8. Aggressive Behavior
In some cases, aggressive or violent behavior can occur. A person may act irrationally, become hurt, or hurt someone else. This result is often unpredictable, as many of the other side effects of ketamine are.
Amnesia is another common side effect of ketamine abuse which often becomes more intense with long-term abuse. It is also another reason why the drug is used to facilitate sexual assault.
10. Insensitivity to Pain
A “profound insensitivity to pain” is common when a person is high on ketamine. In many cases, individuals become injured while on the drug and do not realize it, causing them not to seek medical attention when they need it.