By now most have heard of Ketamine (Ketalar) but might recognize it unless it is by its underground name of “Special K”. We are not discussing cereal but rather the prescription drug. Ketamine was discovered for use as a human and veterinary drug. On humans it was designed to be used as an anesthetic in combination with a sedative such as Valium or Xanex. The anesthetic was not designed for major operations like triple bypass but rather minor ones such as podiatry procedures or emergency surgery. On animals, it was designed as an anesthetic (tranquilizer) for small animals but it is well known for its use on horses to manage pain. Along the way it became a schedule III drug due to its addictive properties.
Ketamine in War
Ketamine was used in the battlefield during the Vietnam War for injury treatment in the field. It is used for treating bronchospasms which is a tightening of the muscles in the walls of your lungs which makes breathing difficult much like asthma. It is also used as a treatment of last resort for bipolar disorder when nothing else works.
Ketamine was studied in the psychiatric world because of the drug’s capability of creating hallucinations. These Ketamine hallucinations were not just visions of seeing god but also amounted to what seemed as out of body experiences. There was this feeling of detachment from the body and the external world. This effect lasted a couple of hours since Ketamine is short lived. As you can imagine, this drug became popular during raves and other parties alongside the club drug ecstasy.
Ketamine is prescribed in different ways. It comes in liquid form for intravenous use which works well in a hospital or battlefield situation. Ketamine can be administered as a topical cream to numb areas such as for oral surgery. Lastly it can come in a pill for the partiers to enjoy.
What about Side Effects?
Like all other drugs, side effects persist especially since there is a higher chance of abuse due to its recreational use. Let’s start with the simple ones such as dizziness, blurred vision, high blood pressure, nausea, delirium and over salivation. That means you might act like a Saint Bernard and drool everywhere. Those are some of the physical side effects. Then there are the mental side effects which include nightmares, vivid dreams, illusions, a sense of euphoria and impaired attention, judgment or memory.
With its recreational use comes the largest problem which is addiction by constant use. Ketamine only lasts about two hours and the feelings are gone. So what do you do next? Take more Ketamine to get that feeling back. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Over the short term, the side effects are reversible. Heavy use of Ketamine will result in impaired memory problems including visual memory problems. I would think it would be worse than forgetting where you left your car. In Addition, heavy Ketamine use results in urinary tract problems such as urinary incontinence (leak pee without control), lower bladder volume so you have to go to the bathroom more often and blood in your urine. So was the euphoria worth the pain?