Ketamine is a short-acting anaesthetic used widely in human and veterinary medicine. It generally comes as a white crystalline powder or as a liquid in a vial, sometimes by its brand name ‘Ketalar’ or ‘Ketaset’. A vial of K runs at about $20 CDN at street level. Ketamine can be snorted or swallowed as a powder, or by intramuscular or intravenous injection when in its liquid form. The onset of Ketamine can be felt 2-10 minutes after dosing, and the high can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the amount dosed and how it was taken. Residuals can be felt for 2-3 hours afterward.
Ketamine is classified as a ‘dissociative anaesthetic’. By ‘dissociative’ it is meant that ketamine can induce mind-body separation or Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE’s) in the user. The term ‘analgesic’ refers to its ability to reduce sensitivity to pain, without loss of consciousness, in lower doses. Its ‘anaesthetic’ quality is what creates numbness in the body, and in higher doses an inability to move about.
It is this dissociative state that most recreational users seek when they use ketamine. This state can be reached at as little as 10-20mg., a small bump of K. Large doses of ketamine are considered to be around 50-100mg, the size of a small line, and can induce full-blown psychedelic trips in the user. At these levels one should be sitting or lying down, so as not to risk falling over or knocking into things when numbness or temporary paralysis kicks in. Caution should be exercised when measuring doses. It takes much less ketamine to get you high than most other drugs, such as ecstasy, crystal meth or cocaine. It is best to start with very small doses, working your way toward the desired levels. In the body, ketamine increases the effects of sympathetic nervous activity, giving a slight increase of heart rate, blood pressure & cardiac output, bronchodilation (widening of airways) and pupil dilation (disco eyes!).
In the brain, ketamine blocks the action of the neurotransmitter L-glutamate. When this happens, the NMDA receptor in the brain does not receive expected signals. It is the NMDA receptors that coordinate and integrate the conscious mind into all bodily functions and other parts of the brain. Ketamine also increases the excretion of adrenaline into the bloodstream and releases endorphins, which work to block the sensation of physical pain.
The mind is an incredibly complex organism. If you are going to unlock some of these doors with a drug, you may encounter some potentially uncomfortable or disturbing things. Be prepared, try and take the drug in an environment where you feel safe, ideally with someone you trust and who has had experience with mind-altering drugs.
Ketamine can make you feel as though you don’t know who or what you are; you can feel detached from your body, not being able to feel much physically and at times be unable to move about. Time slows down, depth perception may go wonky, drowsiness and dizziness can set in, and many experience intense visions and hallucinations, euphoria, and a sense of floating. Some people experience tunnel vision, blackouts, numbness in the limbs, temporary paralysis, slurred speech and nausea.
In higher doses, K has a reputation for inducing out-of-body experiences, mystical union, astral travel, rebirthing, alien communication, and bringing one closer to certain deities (religious figures). High enough doses can land one in a K-hole, the point when one crosses from a dissociative state to anaesthetic levels. At anaesthetic levels there is little interaction with the outside world. The user can become unconscious and undergo temporary paralysis, as can be expected with anaesthetic drugs. For this reason, it is wise to stick to lower doses in a party environment so as not to risk falling over, or becoming vulnerable to assault.
It is coming off of a K trip that one begins to gather their senses and reorganize their thoughts, while possibly feeling weak and wobbly from both mental and physical effects. Some users report feeling less mentally alert the following day, and this is likely a combination of using drugs, staying awake all night and partying.
It is because of ketamine’s involvement with NMDA receptors in the brain that long term use of high doses has the potential to interfere with memory, learning, and attentional mechanisms, although much of this is speculation at this point in ketamine research.
Tolerance to ketamine builds up quickly with repeated use. This means that over time, with regular use, more ketamine is required to reach the desired high. Some people may establish routines of repeated use and find them difficult to break. If you are concerned about your ketamine use, you can contact people at TRIP who can help you find ways to use safer and/or reduce your use.
Ketamine that comes in closed pharmaceutical vials can be considered relatively more safe than most loose powders or liquids you may buy off the street (safe as in, less likely to be tampered with/cut with other substances). Ketamine appearing in other forms, such as capsules or loose powder should be taken with caution, as these forms make it easy to cut ketamine with other drugs or contaminants.
Taking too much ketamine (into the K-hole and beyond) may render the user unconscious. If this happens, put the person in recovery position and seek help. Never leave the person alone, as they can be vulnerable to harm.