Ketamine is an anaesthetic cooked from liquid form to crystalline solid, then ground into a powder and snorted through the nose, traditionally through “bumps” off the end of a key or in a “bullet” (a device used to deliver measured amounts). Recreationally, it is used to on a dance-floor or during sex to “take the edge off”, or to complement other drugs like cocaine, crystal meth and ecstasy. In larger or built-up amounts it can have a hallucinogenic effect or put the user into a “K Hole” – a state of very limited awareness or altered perception/reality.
Not too much harm is seen by health services regarding this kind of use. Users generally recover from their “K Holes” within the hour and feeling sober again. During these K holes however, the less-than-conscious user is exposed to dangers from sexual assault or accidental harm. Mixing with alcohol can be a danger as it can effect breathing and cause bradychardia.
Although it is not physically addictive (a frequent or regular user can stop using Ketamine without the need of medical assistance), some people find it highly psychologically addictive. Its numbing or mindlessness effects can be very attractive to a person who wishes to distract themselves from or avoid unpleasant consciousness, fears of the future or traumatic past.
It is also a tool to manage social or intimacy anxiety, and to manage boredom. Loneliness and isolation are usually relevant factors in regular Ketamine use. These users can find themselves using Ketamine in very large amounts all day every day.
The most direct and dangerous harm is damage to the bladder, causing severe pain and incontinence. These are usually the symptoms that induce clients to seek help from drug services. If you are experiencing pain you should seek medical support urgently.
In most cases there is no harm in stopping use of Ketamine immediately and abruptly, though users can be extremely reluctant to do so. Often, some therapy is required to address underlying issues, but before that could happen your keyworker can assist you in reducing your use, while motivating you to find other ways to alleviate boredom with activities or seeking company and support from friends.
KETAMINE HARM REDUCTION TIPS:
Identify a typical amount used daily, then reduce this for a week by a certain amount. For instance, if you’re using 8 grams a day, try reducing it to 5 grams daily for the next week. Or if your first line is at midday, try stretching it to 5pm. Choose 1 day (2 if you’re brave!) to not use at all. Make this a special day, doing something different, perhaps with a supportive friend.
Use a diary to record and monitor not only the amount, but the feelings you are experiencing while reducing. Discussing this at the next appointment will help you and your worker to better understand your triggers, and the emotions involved, as well as develop a better understanding of what you might be “avoiding”. If experiencing bladder pain, your keyworker can arrange a Urology referral.
Making use of the Antidote drop in and free acupuncture is well-advised to help develop confidence in engaging with others in a safe place, and to help with cravings.
Antidote helpline: Contact us to discuss your drug or alcohol issues on 020 7833 1674 (10am-6pm, Monday to Friday). Ask for someone from the Antidote Team.