What Is Ketamine


Know the facts and connect with support to help you address known or suspected substance use with your child.

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic used in human anesthesia and veterinary medicine. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause a person to feel detached from reality. Much of the ketamine sold on the street has been diverted from veterinarians’ offices. Ketamine’s chemical structure and mechanism of action are similar to those of PCP.[1]

Also known as special K, super K and vitamin k, among other slang terms, ketamine is manufactured as an injectable liquid. In illicit use ketamine is swallowed or evaporated to form a snortable powder. It is odorless and tasteless, so it can be added to beverages without being detected, and it induces amnesia. Because it has been used to commit sexual assaults due to its ability to sedate and incapacitate unsuspecting victims, ketamine is also considered to be a “date rape” drug.[1]

Ketamine can cause dream-like states and hallucinations. People who use the drug report sensations ranging from a pleasant feeling of floating to being separated from their bodies.


Understand the risks of ketamine

Some ketamine experiences involve a terrifying feeling of almost complete sensory detachment that is likened to a near-death experience. These experiences, similar to a “bad trip” on LSD, are called the “K-hole.” Low-dose intoxication from ketamine results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. In high doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.

Flashbacks have been reported several weeks after ketamine is used. Prolonged use may also cause agitation, depression, cognitive difficulties, unconsciousness, and amnesia.[2]

Identify & address use of ketamine

Signs of use include delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure and depression. If you’re concerned your child may be using ketamine or other substances, the following can help you address the behavior more effectively.