Ketamine hydrochloride is a fast-acting central nervous system depressant. It is legally used as an anesthetic for humans and animals and in experimental psychotherapy. Illegal use of ketamine as a club or date rape drug by youth and young adults is increasing the United States. In the spring of 1997, Congress introduced a bill to classify ketamine as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high abuse potential with the possibility of severe psychic and physical dependence. The only known source of the illegal ketamine supply is the diversion of pharmaceuticals, such as stealing the drug from veterinary clinics.
Ketamine may also be referred to by the following street terms:
- K, Special K
- Kit Kat
- Super Acid, Super C
- Cat Valium
- Special La Coke
Ketamine may be abused by young people attending raves or all-night parties. Those who abuse Ketamine experience a dissociative state, sometimes eliciting out-of-body or near-death experiences. The effects of ketamine include hallucinations, sexual stimulation, heightened or impaired perception, boredom or blankness, amnesia, rapture, numbness, depression, loss of coordination, a sense of invulnerability, paranoia, and aggressive or violent behavior. Ketamine may cause increased cardiac output leading to heart attack or stroke, convulsions, depressed respiratory function, coma, and death.
Ketamine comes in liquid or powder forms and may taken in three ways: injected intramuscularly or intravenously; snorted; or sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana and smoked. Ketamine is so powerful and fast-acting that when the drug is injected, users may lose motor control before the injection is complete. Ketamine may be sold as ecstasy, or mixed with other drugs such as ephedra and caffeine. Therefore, users may not know what they are ingesting or how the drug will affect them.
Ketamine's high lasts anywhere from one to six hours, with residual effects lasting as long as one or two days. Chronic abusers of ketamine may experience its effects, such as flashbacks, for several months or even years after discontinuing use of the drug. Long-term users risk increased tolerance for the drug, as well as physical and psychological dependence.
Ketamine and Date Rape
Due to anesthetic effects, ketamine may be used as a date rape drug. Because the drug takes effect so quickly and its effects last for several hours, ketamine may be slipped into someoneÃs drink, rendering him or her unconscious and unable to resist sexual assault. Even when used recreationally, ketamine may incapacitate users, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault.
As with other date rape drugs, college and university officials should make students aware of the potential for drug-facilitated sexual assault, and should inform them about not accepting drinks from strangers, keeping their drinks with them at all times, and staying close by friends when at parties or clubs.