Ketamine: Therapeutic use, Treatment. Ketamine rehab.
Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 4:42 pm
Official names: Ketamine hydrochloride, Ketaject, Ketaset, and Ketalar.
Street names: K, ket, quick, Lady K, special K, vitamin K, Kit-Kat, green, blind squid, jet, super acid, honey oil, cat vallum, superC
Drug classifications: Schedule III, dissociative anesthetic
CRYSTAL METH (METHAMPHETAMINE): A central nervous system stimulant that has emerged as a readily available alternative to MDMA at clubs and raves. Also known as “speed.”
DISSOCIATIVE ANESTHETIC: An anesthetic that produces an unresponsive state by chemically muting the ability of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain to process signals.
DXM (DEXTROMETHORPHAN): Easily synthesized dissociative psychedelic found in some cough medicines, used illicitly for numbing and hallucinogenic properties.
GHB (GAMMA HYDROXYBUTYRATE): Originally sold in health food stores as a growth hormone, a liquid nervous depressant touted for its ecstasy-like qualities. Banned by the FDA in 1990, the respiratory depression it can cause makes it among the most dangerous club drugs in circulation.
LSD (D-LYSERGIC ACID DIETHYLAMIDE): A powerful chemical compound renowned for its hallucinogenic properties.
MDMA (3,4-M ETHYLENEDIOXYM ETH AM PH ETA-
MINE): Known as ecstasy, E and X, MDMA is the most popular of the “club drugs,” a synthetic stimulant with mild hallucinogenic properties.
NMDA RECEPTOR ANTAGONIST: A class of anesthetics that block particular neurotransmitters located in the brain’s cerebral cortex and hippocampus — regions responsible for memory, language, and motor control.
PCP (PHENCYCLIDINE): Also known as angel dust, a powerful and toxic synthetic chemical developed in home laboratories.
ROHYPNOL (FLUNTRAZEPAM): An overseas prescription sleeping aid that, in lower doses, gives users a feeling similar to alcohol intoxication; also used as a date rape drug.
The original name for ketamine was CI581. Its discovery is credited to Dr. Calvin Stevens of Wayne State University who isolated the compound in 1961. The pharmaceutical giant Parke-Davis funded its development as an alternative to the anesthetic phencyclidine or PCP.
Ketamine is a fast-acting intravenous or intramuscular anesthetic used primarily by veterinarians. It has unique hypnotic (sleep-producing), analgesic (pain-relieving) and amnesic (inducing short term memory loss) properties that in proper doses does not depress breathing, making it highly prized by surgeons. No other drug in clinical use combines these three important features.
Ketamine was first used clinically in 1970, and was thought to be an ideal anesthetic agent. The U.S. military put it to use in Vietnam as an easily administered battlefield drug. It had a wide safety margin in terms of its dosage, making it ideally suited to the chaotic atmosphere of the battlefield.
But as its use increased, so did reports of its hallucinatory side effects. Significant numbers of patients who were given the anesthetic, whether on the battlefield or in hospitals, reported visions of interactions with dead friends and relatives, angels, and other religious figures when they began regaining consciousness.
Physicians began administering tranquilizers to block the hallucinations associated with ketamine’s “emergent state,” a condition that refers to the patient’s return to consciousness. By both official and unofficial channels, word of the drug’s intense hallucinogenic effect spread among doctors, scientists, veterinarians, and academics and found fertile ground in an emerging subculture rapidly becoming dominated by psychedelic drug use.
Given the popularity of marijuana, LSD, mescaline, cocaine, and heroin, the use of ketamine in the 1970s and 1980s remained largely confined to either experimental Therapeutic use, or what has been described by author Jay Stevens as “the neuro-consciousness frontier,” a small group of accredited and unaccredited individuals who experimented with the effects of hallucinogenic substances.
The man most closely associated with early ketamine experimentation and research was John C. Lilly, M.D., an accomplished researcher made famous by his groundbreaking early work in the early neurosciences. (Lilly died in 2001.)
Lilly’s research, which electronically mapped the brain’s pain and pleasure pathways, opened the door to decades of neural imaging advances. He invented the isolation tank and explored the effects of sensory deprivation; he was also responsible for trail-blazing work in human-dolphin communication — efforts that were later popularized in the films Altered States and The Day of the Dolphin.
What is not as well known is that Lilly also had a chronic problem with ketamine abuse. In his disturbing 1978 autobiography The Scientist, Lilly relates that in taking ketamine for his migraines, he felt transformed by the drug’s hallucinogenic effects. In his words, ketamine gave him the ability to “look across the border into other realities.”
His tolerance and dependence built up quickly. Within several months, Lilly was injecting the drug several times a day and reaching dosages of 50 mg an hour for stretches lasting up to 20 hours. His case is exceptional, but it is often cited to counter claims that ketamine is not addictive.
With law enforcement officials tightening their grip on the distribution of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, LSD, and other high traffic drugs throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, interest in what came to be known as designer drugs and later club drugs greatly increased. Ecstasy (MDMA) made its debut in New York and London’s gay club scenes in the late 1980s and early 1990s and spread rapidly into the club-going mainstream.
The combination of a large and growing youth market for ecstasy in the United States and Britain, coupled with higher rates of intervention by police, led to a search for new experiences and cheaper alternatives, and ketamine, not yet illegal, quickly filled the void.
In 1995 ketamine was added to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Emerging Drugs List. Four years later, in August of 1999, ketamine became a federally illegal (Schedule III) drug in the United States.
Ketamine, though used with much less frequency than MDMA and methamphetamine, is increasingly popular among young people. References to its use are abundant in rave and dance culture. Popular musicians such as Madonna and the Chemical Brothers have also incorporated mention of ketamine usage into their music.