What is Ketamine?
Ketamine hydrochloride comes under the umbrella of drugs classified as ‘dissociative anaesthetics’. This group of dugs makes the user feel detached from themselves, their environment and distorts their perception of sight and sound.
There are comparisons made between the bizarre states of mind caused by ketamine and the experiences of people suffering from schizophrenia. Ketamine acts on the central nervous system and alters neurotransmission processes in the brain.
This drug is most commonly used in in veterinary medicine as an anaesthetic or painkiller. On rare occasions ketamine is also used by doctors for humans but usually avoided because of its hallucinatory effects.
Ketamine can be found in liquid and powder forms. Often the powder has been mixed with other things including drain cleaner and talcum powder. This drug is usually snorted but can also be taken orally or injected.
Street Names for Ketamine
There are many street names for ketamine depending on the area, ethnicity and age of the users.
- Cat Valium
- Cat Tranquilizer
- Special K
- Super K
- Vitamin K
- Kit Kat
History of Ketamine
Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 by Calvin Stevens at the Parke Davis Laboratories. It was initially named CI-581 and developed as a derivative of PCP as an anaesthetic drug. Scientist hope to develop a drug that did not have the debilitating hallucinatory effects that PCP did.
It was during the 1970’s that ketamine started to be taken recreationally. Argentina used it as a regression therapy and New Age sub-cultures began using it for mind exploration.
Medical and nonmedical uses of ketamine expanded throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. In later years it became well known as a club or recreational drug often used alongside ecstasy and amphetamines.
What are the effects of Ketamine addiction?
Regular users of ketamine can develop cravings and tolerance which are both characteristics of addiction. Using this drug can also impair the ability of the user to make healthy decisions and simply stopping is not as easy as it sounds.
Co-occurring disorders such as severe depression, anxiety, or eating disorders can worsen the effect of the drug and its addictive qualities, making it harder for the user to stop without professional addiction treatment.
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- Damage to the bladder and the urinary tract.
- Risk of blood borne diseases if the drug is injected
- Cardiovascular problems
- Damage to the central nervous system
- Brain damage
- Damage to the septum if snorted
- Changes in the brain chemistry – short term
- Changes in the structure and function of the brain – long term
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Disturbed sleep
- Unhealthy eating habits/malnutrition
- Lying to yourself/denial
- Apathy /Exhaustion
- Memory loss
- Mood Swings
- Potential increase in risky behaviour
- Financial problems
- Sexual problems
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Lack of interest in work/school
- Lack of interest and ability in maintain relationships/friendships
- Damaged relationships with family members
- Lying to others
- Damaged self-esteem and self-worth
- Damaged relationship with self
- Lack of interest in life
- Inability to function without the drug
- Continued use despite negative consequences
The signs and symptoms of ketamine addiction get progressively worse over time and there will be no resolution until effective addiction treatment and aftercare are sought.
Withdrawal from Ketamine
Ketamine does not induce physical dependency in the same way that alcohol or heroin do. However, users may have some acute physical symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and diarrhea.
Most of the symptoms are psychological and during detox clients can suffer from schizophrenic behavior, depression, and anxiety. Typically, the detox process can last between 24 hours and 2 weeks.
The Two Stages of Withdrawal – Acute and Post-Acute
There are often two stages of withdrawal process for ketamine addiction. The first stage has immediate acute symptoms and these can be both physical and psychological. During stage two, former users experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS.
These refer to a number of psychological symptoms which can last for weeks or months after the user has stopped taking the drug. This is one of many reasons why residential treatment is the most effective way to treat ketamine addiction.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Anger or emotional outbursts