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Ketamine
Basics
by Erowid
DESCRIPTION #
Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic, developed in the mid 1960's, used primarily for veterinary anaesthesiology. Although Ketamine is not used medically on humans much because it induces psychedelic episodes in patients, it is still used for some limited human applications because it does not depress breathing or circulation.

Ketamine is used recreationally primarily as a snorted white powder and for therapeutic and psychedelic use it is often injected intra-muscularly (IM). Its effects range (at lower doses) from mild inebriation, dreamy thinking, stumbling, clumsy, or 'robotic' movement, delayed or reduced sensations, vertigo, sometimes erotic feelings, increased sociability, and an interesting sense of seeing the world differently to (at higher doses) extreme difficulty moving, nausea, complete dissociation, entering complete other realities, classic Near Death Experiences (NDEs), compelling visions, black outs, etc. Ketamine is also known for being more psychologically addictive / compelling than most psychedelics and it is not uncommon to hear of users who take it once or more daily.
Depending on the concentration, form, and method of administration, recreational doses of ketamine range from 30 - 300 mg. The dosage range for insufflated (snorted) ketamine varies widely from about 15-200 mg. With doses higher than about 50 mg it is advisable to be lying down. I.M. (intra-muscular injections) ketamine dosages are generally between 25-125 mg. Oral use usually requires more material, ranging from 75-300 mg.
Price #
sold for $50-150 USD per gram at parties & events, sold for $20-50 USD per gram for larger purchases, wholesale, or among friends.
Ketamine is illegal to possess in the United States without a prescription or license. It was made a schedule III substance in August, 1999. Prior to that time sales were regulated by the FDA but possession was legal. Ketamine is controlled in many countries.<
Ketamine hydrochloride is a synthetic chemical in the 'dissociative anaesthetic' class.
Pharmacology #
Pharmacology Summary Needed.
Production #
Production Summary Needed.
Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 by Calvin Stevens at Parke Davis Labs while searching for PCP anaesthetic replacements. He named it "CI581". In 1965 Ketamine was discovered to be a useful anaesthetic and was first used recreationally by Edward Domino who coined the term "dissociative anaesthetic". Ketamine was used for anaesthesia because it suppresses breathing much less than most other available anaesthetics, but in the 1970's patients began to report unwanted visions while under its influence. In 1978, John Lilly published his book "The Scientist" and Ketamine popularity grew through the 1980s until in 1995 the DEA added Ketamine to its "emerging drugs list". In 1998 & 1999, Ketamine was lumped by media and legislators with GHB as a 'date rape drug' and a 'club drug' and was emergency scheduled by the DEA on August 12, 1999.
Terminology / Slang #
Brand Names:
Ketaset; Ketalar.
The Substance:
Ketamine; K; Special K; Vitamin K; Lady K.
The Experience:
Tripping; K-ing; The K-hole
The full ketamine experience is somewhat different than many of the psychedelics because of its nature as a dissociative. At high enough doses, users find themselves completely removed from their surroundings and disconnected from their body and sensations. Descriptions of the experience vary, but many describe alternate planes of existence, fully enveloping meetings and conversations with non-existant people or beings, and life-revelations.
Onset #
I.M. (intra-muscular injection) Ketamine generally takes 1-5 minutes to take effect. Snorted ketamine takes a little longer at 5-15 minutes. Depending on how much and how recently one has eaten food, oral ketamine can take between 5 and 30 minutes to take effect.
Duration #
The primary effects of ketamine last approximately an 30-45 minutes if injected, 45-60 minutes when snorted, and 1-2 hours if used orally.
Visual Effects #
Visuals Summary Needed.
Negative physical effects can include dry mouth, respiratory problems and nervousness/racing heart. Many people also experience nausea and/or vomiting on ketamine, which can obviously be a problem when taking an anaesthetics or sedatives. Supervision of higher dose ketamine experiences by a sober sitter can help ensure that an unconscious participant doesn't have problems with vomiting and/or breathing.

Two psychological difficulties which seem to come up for those who use ketamine regularly are paranoia and egocentrism. There are many reports of regular users starting to see patterns and coincidences (synchronicities) in the world around them which seem to indicate that they are somehow more important or integral to the world than others. This same sense of the world focusing on the user can also feed into a sense of paranoia.

Irritation to the bladder and urinary tract from heavy use of ketamine may occur. There is increasing evidence that frequent ketamine use (even under medical supervision using pharmaceutical ketamine) can cause short or long term pain, difficulty urinating, and other related problems.

Contraindications #
  • Do not operate heavy machinery. Do not drive.
  • Do not swim. Avoid bodies of water - At least two deaths has been recorded where an individual took a bath after using ketamine, and drowned.
Addiction Potential #
Ketamine has the potential to be psychologically addicting. Some individuals who use it regularly find it difficult to stop or control their own use.
Long Term Health Problems #
Long Term Health Problems Summary Needed.
Risk of Death #
Risk of Death Summary Needed.
CAUTION & DISCLAIMER #
Erowid Basics pages are summaries of data gathered from site visitors, government documents, books, websites, and other resources. We do our best to keep this information correct and up-to-date, but the field is complex and constantly changing. Information should always be verified through multiple sources.