Ketamine: Magic Drug Or Dangerous Addiction?

by admin on October 22, 2021

By Annika Lindorsson Krugel

A recent study has discovered that Ketamine, traditionally an anesthetic for animals, could help treating patients with depression.

While most anti-depressants must be taken every day, and even so, can take several months to become effective, scientists have found that depression patients with years of unsuccessful treatments behind them, respond to Ketamine within hours and that the effect can last up to ten years.

Professor Ronald Duman at Yale University expressed great appreciation of the potential of treating depression using the drug: “It’s like a magic drug — one dose can work rapidly and last for seven to 10 days”.

However, opinions are mixed as to the positive effects of taking Ketamine. George Aghajanian, co-researcher of the latest study, which is published in the journal Science, warned that further analysis and modification is required before the drug can be allowed to be administered for this use.

Further, Glenn Garnham, a drug and alcohol counsellor for UK charity Admit, voiced concerns over the findings: “Ketamine is a very addictive drug which is normally used on horses. I deal with many people who are addicted to ketamine and it affects their life in the same way as any other addiction does, leading to serious problems with health, money, friends and family”.

He added: “It is already very cheap and easy to become addicted to – approving it for medical use might remove some of its stigma and lead more people down the path of addiction.”

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine, also known as “Super Acid” or “Special K” (among others) is an odorless as well as tasteless drug that is available in liquid, pill or powder form. Its full name is Ketamine hydrochloride.

It is a drug that was originally developed as a veterinary anesthetic, for which purpose it is still used. It belongs to a group of drugs that is called “dissociative anesthetics”, meaning it separates perception of sound and sight from sensation, and creates a feeling of detachment of the environment and oneself.

Ketamine emerged as a recreational drug during the 1970s and became known as “Vitamin K” during the 1980s. It has since resurfaced on the rave scene under the current name Special K.

Effects And Dangers Of Using Ketamine

At lower doses the effects are feelings of floating and being outside of the body. Higher doses can produce hallucinations and a much stronger out-of-body sensation. At very high doses, Ketamine can produce delirium and amnesia. Being in this state is referred to as being in a “K-hole”, where the person finds it very difficult to move and thus mostly ends up lying down until the feeling has passed.

In addition to producing impaired motor functions, high doses can result in high blood pressure and potentially fatal respiratory problems.

Recent studies have also shown that Ketamine can produce a heightened risk for pelvic pain and urinary incontinence.

Addictive Properties of Ketamine

The dissociative effects of Ketamine means it can potentially create a very strong psychological addiction among users. Addictive behavior is very much like that seen with users of cocaine or amphetamine, where the person takes part in Ketamine binging sessions. Users can also develop tolerance to as well as cravings for the drug.

In summing up, Dr. Marc Galanter, director of the division of alcoholism and drug abuse in the department of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, said: “I would say that ketamine has always been a bad idea”.


Alan Mozes (31 May, 2010) Club Drug ‘Special K’ Could Leave Users Incontinent, Health Media Ventures, Retrieved 22 Oct, 2010 from

Richard Alleyne (19 Aug, 2010) Ketamine is ‘magic drug’ for depression, The Telegraph, Retrieved 22 Oct, 2010 from

National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA InfoFacts: Club Drugs (GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol), Retrieved 22 Oct, 2010 from

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