What are the health risks of ketamine?
Ketamine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. It can make you confused, agitated, delirious and disconnected from reality. It can make you feel sick, and it can cause damage to your short and long term memory. Other risks include:
- Because of the body’s loss of feelings, paralysis of the muscles and the mind’s loss of touch with reality, you can be left vulnerable to hurting yourself or being hurt by others.
- Because you don't feel pain properly when you've recently taken ketamine, you can injure yourself badly and not know you've done it.
- Ketamine can cause very serious bladder problems, with the urgent and frequen need to pee. This can be very painful and often pee can be blood-stained and can contain tissue from the wall of the bladder. Although stopping using ketamine can help, sometimes the damage can be so serious that the bladder needs to be removed by surgery. The urinary tract, from the kidneys down to the bladder, can also be badly affected and incontinence (uncontrolled peeing) may also develop.
- Some users have been known to take higher doses as a way to control the bladder pain caused by ketamine, which in turn increases the risk of bladder damage and pain.
- Abdominal pain or ‘K cramps’ have been reported by many long-term users.
- Evidence of liver damage due to regular, heavy ketamine use is emerging. The liver has a range of important functions, such as cleaning your blood and removing toxic substances.
- It can make you physically incapable of moving. You can feel completely detached from your body and surroundings, which has been compared to having a near-death experience. This is sometimes called “entering the k-hole”.
- Injecting ketamine can damage the veins and can cause serious problems such as abscesses (swollen areas of tissue that are full of pus) and blood clots. Sharing injecting equipment, including needles and syringes, risks infection with hepatitis C and B viruses and HIV.
Mixing ketamine with alcohol and other drugs
- High doses, especially when taken with other substances like alcohol, benzodizepines or opiates, can dangerously affect the way you breathe and how your heart works. It can lead to unconsciousness and this could mean you choke on your own vomit.
- If high doses are taken and mixed with other drugs it can cause death.
- Ketamine can also be very dangerous when mixed with ecstasy or amphetamines as it causes high blood pressure.
What is ketamine cut with?
Users won’t know whether any ketamine they get through a dealer, even a friend, is definitely ketamine or whether it has been contaminated (or ‘cut’) with any other substances.
There have been reports of ketamine being cut with the ‘legal high’ MXE while some people have been sold ketamine which is really MXE. MXE is chemically related to ‘dissociative anaesthetics’ like ketamine and has similar effects. But it is much stronger than ketamine and extra care is needed to avoid overdosing.
Only medicinal ketamine would be reliably pure.
Can you get addicted to ketamine?
The simple answer is – yes – you can become addicted to it. This means dependent users feel the need to keep taking ketamine, even in spite of the effects on their health. Some users will attend drug treatment services to help them stop.
Regular users can also develop tolerance to ketamine, which means they need to take increasing amounts to get the same effects.
There are no physical withdrawal symptoms, so ketamine addiction is sometimes called a ‘psychological dependence’. Dependence is just another name for addiction.