In medicine, Ketamine is an anesthetic used to sedate patients for short operations. On the street, Ketamine—also known as “Special K” or just “K”—is a dissociative drug that produces effects ranging from an amphetamine-like sensation at low doses to a comatose trance with hallucinations setting in at higher doses. While manufactured professionally as a pharmaceutical, Ketamine is illegally sold on the streets, or even processed underground and sold for recreational use.
What Does Ketamine Look Like?
Medical-grade Ketamine is a clear liquid that generally comes in 10 ml injection vials. While sold under several brand names such as Ketalar, Ketaset, and Ketmex, but all vials will state the active ingredient as “Ketamine Hydrochloride” on their labels. When dried out, illegally obtained pharmaceutical grade liquid Ketamine produces a fine white powder that is easier to use recreationally and can be snorted, rubbed in the gums, or fashioned into pills. Small quantities of Ketamine powder can also be mixed with larger amounts of cheaper stimulants such as amphetamines to create pills and tablets that are often passed off as ecstasy to unsuspecting users.
How is Ketamine Used?
Administered by IV drip in highly monitored surgical environments, Ketamine renders patients unconscious and unable to feel pain. A small percentage of people who use Ketamine illegally inject the liquid Ketamine into their muscles to producing a fast-acting and intense dissociative effect.
However, ketamine Injected directly into a vein—while unlikely to result in death—can instantly render a person unconscious, making them susceptible to both accidental injuries from sudden falls, or increase the risk of sexual assault (especially due to paralysis in the company of strangers at dance parties and underground raves). In the dance club scene, people snort powdered Ketamine directly in through their nose—like cocaine—or take it in pill form thinking they are using ecstasy. In order to counteract the paralysis that accompanies high doses, a mixture of Ketamine and stimulants like cocaine is sold under the street name “CK1.”
Is Ketamine Legal?
As a Schedule III drug in the United States, Ketamine is deemed to have medical value and to be less addictive than harder drugs such as heroin. While it is illegal to possess or sell Ketamine, it is authorized for medical use with the proper licensing. Private possession of Ketamine can result in arrest and criminal prosecution.
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