Ketamine: Ingestion methods

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 4:43 pm

Ketamine is sold to veterinary offices and hospitals in liquid form under the brand names Ketaject, Ketaset, and Ketalar. When properly administered as an anesthetic in a clinical setting, it is usually delivered by intramuscular injection, though small children and the elderly may receive oral doses.
Ketamine may be procured illegally in its original clear liquid state, and can either be injected, mixed with another liquid and drank, or dribbled over cigarettes and tobacco and smoked. It is far more common, however, for users and dealers to evaporate or “bake” ketamine into a powder.
In economic terms, dealers and middlemen have ample incentive to dilute or “cut” other substances into the ketamine to stretch a limited supply. Frequently, ketamine is cut with other stimulants, additives, or opiates, compressed into pills or loaded into capsules, and sold as something else entirely.
A study conducted in Australia, which analyzed the purity of ecstasy tablets seized by police, for example, found on average the MDMA content to be a little more than a third of the total — the rest being a mix of heroin, PCP, speed, caffeine, ketamine, and other fillers.
Nasal ingestion
Ketamine is usually snorted as a powder, either cut into lines or delivered in small “hits” or “bumps” of varying size. Thumb-sized plastic “bullet” dispensers are in common use, and deliver pre-set 30-50 mg doses per nasal hit. Larger bullets most likely contain larger intake chambers.
The impact of ketamine on the user at a low dosage differs dramatically from its impact at a higher dosage. This gives ketamine what is known as a steep dose response curve. Ketamine also differs from other inhalants in that the onset of its effects can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes, depending on the person’s height, weight, tolerance, and other factors. Ketamine also lingers in the system for up to an hour, and its effects are cumulative.
Even experienced users, not mindful of the response lag or other variables, frequently ingest more than they intend and end up in what is commonly referred to as a “K-hole” — a state of near paralysis if not complete unconsciousness.
The low-dose threshold, the amount by which most users will begin to feel the effect of the drug, begins with ketamine at about 10 mg. A 10-30 mg nasal dose of ketamine will render most users light-headed, with mildly altered visual and tactile senses.
The medium-dose threshold is anywhere between 30 and 70 mg (a single inhaled hit for many) and results in pronounced disorientation, audio and visual distortion, and a loss of muscle coordination.
The high-dose threshold is the maximum dosage a person can tolerate before losing consciousness entirely. Most users will lapse into a dissociative state at dosages of between 100 and 150 mg, with the rest succumbing at 150-225 mg. Vomiting is not uncommon at high doses. Doses at or near 250 mg will render most users unconscious from 30 minutes to three hours or more.
Oral ingestion
Mixed with water or another liquid, the oral ingestion of ketamine differs from nasal ingestion in several important respects. First, it takes longer for the drug to take effect (up to 20 minutes on a medium-full stomach) and the effect of the drug lasts much longer, from three to six hours or more depending on the dose. The threshold tolerances between light, moderate, strong, and anesthetic doses are also somewhat higher when ingested orally.
Increasingly, ketamine is being sold in press-pill or capsule form. There is no way to accurately gauge how much pure ketamine is being consumed when purchased in this form or with which other drugs (heroin, caffeine, methamphetamine, etc.) it has been combined.
Intramuscular injection
When injected intramuscularly (into muscle as opposed to a vein), ketamine’s impact is more immediate (about 90 seconds) and the tolerance threshold is much, much lower. Very small differences in the amount of the drug entering the system have profoundly different effects on the user.
Taking ketamine by injection is dangerous. The risks of accidental death or permanent injury from overdose by injection are greater than with any other method.

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