What is Ketamine?


Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic which means that the drug causes a person to feel that their mind is detached from their body. It has similar properties to phencyclidine, also known as PCP, or angel dust. Ketamine was initially developed to be used as an animal anaesthetic and a human sedative. Recently, however, this drug has become common in the nightclub scene. Ketamine’s street names include K, Special K, and Vitamin K. It has the properties of both a hallucinogen and a depressant.


Ketamine usually comes in the form of a white powder wrapped in paper, but it can also come as a clear liquid. It can be swallowed, but most people snort ketamine through the nose.



Short-Term Effects

  • Feeling of the separation between body and mind (some users call this a “near-death experience”);

  • Hallucinations and/or paranoia;

  • Disassociation with reality;

  • Blackouts;

  • Loss of coordination and/or temporary paralysis;

  • Slurred speech;

  • Confusion;

  • Anxiety;

  • Nausea and/or vomiting;

  • Inability to feel pain.


The combination of numbness, hallucinations and the inability to feel pain can lead to serious accidents.



Long-Term Effects


Recent reports in medical literature link the use of ketamine with a serious reduction of bladder function. As a result, users end up needing to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes or even more often.


Frequent use of ketamine can cause disruptions in consciousness and lead to neuroses or other mental disorders. Other effects include:


  • Impaired memory and concentration;

  • Quick tolerance of ketamine;

  • Psychological dependence;

  • Flashbacks (users experience the effects of the drug even when it is not used);

  • Mood swings;

  • Nosebleeds;

  • Depression;

  • Psychotic symptoms (e.g. lack of self-awareness, hallucinations, confusion).


For detailed information, please refer to the following websites:


Institute of Mental Health Castle Peak Hospital


Narcotics Division, Security Bureau: Anti-drug Information and Resources


Narcotics Division, Security Bureau: Anti-drug Resources for Teachers and Social Workers


Hong Kong Police Force: Types of Drugs