Ketamine is a potent drug that is sometimes abused by people. However, this anesthetic has its fair share of medical uses, and it’s important to know both sides of the story before we dismiss it entirely. Ketamine is unlike other drugs that have no medicinal purposes and are solely used recreationally.
Because of this, we have to be able to tell the difference between abuse and the proper use of ketamine. Today, we are going to explore this topic.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that has street names ranging from “Vitamin K” to “Special K”. This substance provides feelings of detachment from one’s own body. It is commonly used in veterinary medicine, but also sees use in the party scene.
The balance between responsible and irresponsible use of ketamine makes it a polarizing substance in terms of legality, social acceptance, and medicinal usefulness.
Ketamine is often sold under the brand name Ketalar, among others. It’s a medication that can be used for starting and maintaining anesthesia.
A person under the effects of ketamine enters a trance-like state, wherein they experience sedation, pain relief, and memory loss. Users find it difficult to move, and feel distant. For this reason, it is often used and labeled as a “date rape” drug.
Once the drug has worn off, psychological reactions tend to take place. This includes agitation, confusion, and even hallucinations. High blood pressure and muscle tremors are also quite common. Low blood pressure can also happen, although it’s a bit less likely.
This drug, first discovered in 1962, is now on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. This means it is considered as one of the safest, most effective medicines needed in a health system. For this reason, it is available as generic medication.
It is important to use ketamine as prescribed by your doctor. But most of the time, ketamine is administered as an injection at the hospital or clinic. This is performed by professionals who are experienced with administering general anesthetics. During the procedure, they maintain an airway and control your respiration.
It is also important to avoid using ketamine if the vial is damaged, or if it contains strange particles. Do not use ketamine if it is discolored or cloudy.
Ketamine: Medical Uses
Ketamine is most notable for its ability to make the patient feel detached—like they are in a dream-like state. This is why it is often used as an anesthetic.
As an anesthetic, it is used as the sole anesthetic during minor procedures on children. It can be used as a sedative for physically painful procedures, particularly in emergency departments. And speaking of emergency, it is commonly used in war zones for surgery.
Low doses of ketamine can supplement spinal or epidural anesthesia.
The reason ketamine is so effective is because it causes little suppression in breathing. The drug is evidently used for pain management. Furthermore, it is shown to be effective in battling depression.
It has been tested as a fast-acting antidepressant, especially in those with bipolar disorder. The benefit, however, does not last long.
Recreational Use of Ketamine
Ketamine is used illegally in house parties and similar events because of its dissociative effects. It is important to know that ketamine has been involved in more than 90 deaths in England and Wales over the years. The causes of deaths range from accidental poisonings to suicides.
Unlike other well-known drugs that have the same effect (such as PCP), ketamine’s effects don’t last long. It takes effect within about 10 minutes. The euphoric effects only stick around for 60 minutes before dissipating, whether it was snorted or injected. If taken orally, the effects may last up to 2 hours.
When used at anesthetic doses, ketamine produces feelings of detachment. But when taken to the extreme, the user may experience visual and auditory hallucinations.
Ketamine: Adverse Effects, Side Effects, and Abuse
Take note that when administered by medical professionals, ketamine is generally safe. However, if abused, there are known side effects that affect various parts of the body. This includes high blood pressure, low blood pressure, transient erythema, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, pain, and nystagmus. Other possible side effects are respiratory depression, and obstruction of the airway.
Even at anesthetic doses, some side effects may appear in 10 to 20% of patients. These side effects may include hallucinations and delirium.
For people who abuse ketamine, effects manifest in the long term, where it reveals itself as a rather unpleasant drug. It affects different areas of the body, so it is difficult to predict how individuals will react to long term abuse. It causes severe abdominal pain, as well as damage to the bladder and urinary tract. The latter is a condition known as ketamine bladder syndrome.
Once dependence has developed, the user will experience one or more of this withdrawal symptoms: nightmares, anxiety, involuntary eye movements, chills, stiff muscles, and depression.
As unpleasant as these effects are, they can be managed with medical care.
Supervised medical detox can go a long way in helping someone recover from the effects of ketamine. It keeps patients away from the temptations of ketamine use. There are inpatient and outpatient ketamine rehab centers available, and this may depend on a person’s condition.
With the right program and treatment facility, they can go on to live a happy and sober life.