Ketamine hydrochloride is a dissociative anaesthetic that is sometimes used in medical and veterinary settings. Dissociative anaesthetics can make a person feel as though they are detached from reality. Street names - Special K, K, Ket, Kitkat, super K

Ketamine is a white crystalline powder that can be made into tablets or pills, or dissolved in liquid. Ketamine is usually swallowed, snorted or injected. It is also sometimes smoked with other substances such as cannabis or tobacco.


The effects of ketamine include:

  • Thought disorders
  • Out of body experiences
  • Aphrodisiac effects
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Chest pain
  • Hypertension
  • Temporary paralysis
  • Bad trips
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Coma

Tolerance and dependence

Tolerance to ketamine can develop very quickly, with people needing more and more to achieve the same euphoric and psychedelic effects.

There is evidence that people who regularly use ketamine can develop a psychological dependence. People who are psychologically dependent on ketamine experience cravings. They may feel compelled to use ketamine to function effectively or feel good in certain situations-such as at a dance parties and raves.

Treatment options

Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's circumstances, and usually involves a combination of counselling, group therapy, medication and supervised detox/withdrawal.

Source of information: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation 

Ketamine information produced by the Australian Drug Foundation - Drug Info Clearinghouse

The Australian Drug Foundation is a national service aimed at helping to prevent alcohol and other drug problems, and reduce alcohol and other drug harms in the community. The ADF's information page about ketamine details its effects, withdrawal and treatment options.

Ketamine information page by DanceSafe

DanceSafe is a US based nonprofit, harm reduction organisation promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community. DanceSafe has produced an information page on ketamine and its effects.

It may be difficult to know what to do if you are worried that someone is using ketamine. Helping someone who is not ready to change their behaviour may be challenging, particularly when the decision for them to get help is ultimately theirs.

If you approach the person you are concerned about there are several things you may want to consider before doing so.

Be informed - Gather information about the drug and its effects so you can see the signs that someone has been using ketamine. It will also help if the person you are trying to assist knows that you understand the effects of the drug and what they might be experiencing.

Discuss ketamine use openly - Try and ascertain if the person has a pyhsical addicition to ketamine or is using it on a recreational basis. Try not to discuss your concerns whilst the person is affected by the drug or is ‘coming down'.

Let the person you are concerned about know that you are open to listening to them without being judgmental. 

Speak to a counsellor yourself first - Sometimes it is sensible to seek help and advice yourself if someone's drug-related behaviour due to a drug problem is impacting on your life.

Reference: Reach Out! website


DanceSafe is a US based nonprofit, harm reduction organisation promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community.

DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention.

Reach Out!

An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times.

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