Ketamine – Dangerous Every Time and Causes Long Term Brain Damage


Ketamine is a very dangerous drug that is popular in the rave culture that came to prominence during the 1990s. A recent study highlights the dangers of long term ketamine abuse.

- article by Khoi Nguyen

Starting in the 1990s, there was a widespread national outrage and fear of party-goers attending all night dance events and raves fueled by “club drugs” such as ecstasy, ketamine, magic mushrooms, and other hallucinogens. While the outrage has somewhat subsided, by no means has the usage of those drugs has ended.

A report by Reuters Health indicates that abuse of ketamine (or “Special K” or “K”, as it is popularly referred to on the streets) is on the rise globally and new research seems to indicate that continued usage of the drug comes with many dangerous health risks.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic that mostly has veterinarian applications or use in children or adults in poor health as a general anesthetic.  It is in a class of drugs referred to as “dissociative anesthetics,” which separate perception from sensation.  Some other drugs in this category include PCP, DXM (contained in cough syrup), and nitrous oxide (or “laughing gas”). Ketamine comes in liquid form or it is cooked into powder and snorted.  The drug causes hallucinations and high blood pressure.  Using it for the first time can create psychosis-like effects and impair thinking.

What are the Health Risks of Long-Term Abuse of Ketamine?

Long-term usage of the drug carried unclear and unknown health consequences for many years until a recent study by Dr. Celia J. A. Morgan and colleagues.  They carried out the first ever large-scale study of ketamine abuse.  The study consisted of following 150 people for over 1 year.  It analyzed the effects of the drug on memory, concentration, and psychological well-being.  The participants were divided into five groups, based on usage:
•    Frequent users – nearly daily use in large quantities
•    Recreational users – once or twice a month usage
•    Former users – those who did, but no longer use the drug
•    Users of illegal drugs other than ketamine
•    Participants who use no illicit drugs at all

The subjects were given a variety of standard tests intended to assess their thinking ability and psychological well being.  In summary, it was discovered that abuse of ketamine is associated with the impairment of memory, concentration, and psychological well-being.  Furthermore, frequent users experienced a worsening of these effects as the study year progressed.  Their short term memory and visual memory continued to decline.  In addition, the frequent user group had disturbances in verbal memory.  They forgot things quicker and had trouble remembering people’s names or conversations.

Abuse of ketamine is associated with the impairment of memory, concentration, and psychological well-being.

The study had good news for recreational users and former users.  Those groups did not demonstrate the same impairments as those in the frequent users group.  They had no disturbances in memory, attention, or psychological well-being.  This could indicate that occasional use of ketamine does not carry long-term health effects or that these effects could be reversible after usage has discontinued.  However, users in these categories and the frequent user category both showed evidence of having mild delusions.

Awareness and Treatment of Ketamine Addiction

Although the spotlight has been diverted from the societal ills of raving and club drugs, people are still using ketamine at an increasing rate.  Awareness of the damaging health properties and dangers though, has not kept up.  More importantly, the risk of addiction and dependence is ignored.  As evidenced in the study, long term frequent and continued usage of ketamine will severely impair your mental abilities.  If you have an addiction to ketamine, we can help. Please call us at 866-323-5609.