If You Thought Ketamine Was Only About Rave Parties, Think Again

An increasing number of party-goers are abusing the date rape drug, but there’s more to ketamine than meets the eye.

Updated10 Oct 2017, 06:52 AM IST
Fit
3 min read

Ketamine, also known as the ‘date rape drug’ or ‘party drug’, is used medically as an anaesthetic for pain relief and as an antidepressant. It is banned in India and several European countries, and has been on the list of controlled substances in the US since 1999.

On 28 September, ketamine filled in branded toothpaste tubes worth Rs 25 lakh was seized in Delhi, reportedly. The seizure has sparked curiosity and concern about the drug, which is manufactured and supplied under the special provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

Too caught up to read? Listen to the story:

Why Do You Need to Know About Ketamine?

Categorised as a “dissociative anesthetic”, ketamine induces a dreamlike trance detached from reality and the immediate environment, while also making it difficult to move, which explains its abuse as a date rape drug.

As an anesthetic, the drug is used in powdered or liquid form, and is usually used on animals. Ways of consuming the drug include mixing it in drinks, snorting, injecting, or smoking in joints or cigarettes, among others.



Categorised as a “dissociative anesthetic””, ketamine induces a dreamlike trance detached from reality and the immediate environment.
Categorised as a “dissociative anesthetic””, ketamine induces a dreamlike trance detached from reality and the immediate environment.
(Photo: iStock)

The abuse of the drug has risen significantly in the last couple of years. Speaking to The Quint, a source in the Narcotics Control Bureau said seizures of the drug have gone up by 70 percent over the last five years.

The drug is cheaper than other substances available for abuse. Ketamine also causes a trip which lasts for about five hours as compared to the 12-14 hour trip of other drugs. 
Source, Narcotics Control Bureau

From 2013 to 2015, more than 30 kilograms of the drug were seized. It has become even more popular because making it is not expensive, the source added.

It can be prepared at home. The drug leaves behind no smell or redness of the eyes or any other visible outward symptom. This explains why it’s often preferred over other drugs.

Medical Effects of 'Special K'. No, Not the Cereal

From potentially fatal respiratory problems to increased heart rate and blood pressure, the effects of ketamine can vary.

It can also cause hallucinations, nausea, along with causing frequent desires to consume the drug.

Dr Amitabh Parti, additional director, internal medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, said that the substance by itself is not harmful. It is administered for its anesthetic qualities in medical usage under proper supervision and in regulated quantities, he added.

The substance becomes a problem when it is abused and taken in unregulated doses. Ketamine induces a sense of relaxation and a feel-good experience. It’s also a hallucinogen and leads to out-of-body experiences. This explains why young people are drawn to it. The substance in itself does not lead to addiction, but only if taken in large doses over a period of time.
Dr Amitabh Parti, Fortis Memorial Research Institute
People mix different kinds of drugs in the form of ‘cocktails’ to ‘enhance’ the effect.
People mix different kinds of drugs in the form of ‘cocktails’ to ‘enhance’ the effect.
(Photo: iStock)
If abused, there is no end to the amount of medical problems it can lead to. From behavioral changes to depression to kidney problems, effects of ketamine’s abuse could vary.

Dr Parti said people are in the habit of mixing different kinds of drugs in the form of ‘cocktails’ to ‘enhance’ their effect. Ketamine in itself won’t lead to a trip longer than an hour or two, but mixing it with other agents to prolong this can complicate matters further.

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(With inputs from PTI.)

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Published: 05 Oct 2017, 05:24 PM IST

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