Ketamine Is Fast Becoming Britain’s Go-to Party Drug

There is a lot of confusion and controversy around the drug ketamine. It’s one of those substances currently being touted as a cure for various ailments from depression to chronic pain. But ketamine is also widely abused. Referred to as ‘K’ (or ‘Special K’) on the street, it has a long history of causing addiction and serious side effects. I remember treating numerous clients in the early 2010’s for ketamine addiction. Abuse of ketamine among the youth was rife in cities like Hong Kong.

Now it seems that its use is on the rise in the UK and other places. This is unfortunate because the consequences of ketamine abuse (even short term) are horrendous. I have met more than one person under the age of 30 with a colostomy bag due to ketamine abuse. Death from serious bladder complications is not unheard of, and death by ketamine poisoning is becoming increasingly common.

Smiley face marked in ketamine dust

1 in 20 Young People in the UK Have Tried Ketamine

Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic which produces a trance-like state at higher doses. It does provide pain relief but is also heavily sedative in its action, which often leads to total amnesia or blackout. This had led to Ketamine being used as a date rape drug. On the other hand, it is often used in hospital emergency rooms to help with painful injuries and broken bones, and in 2019 the FDA approved a ketamine based nasal spray for use with treatment resistant depression.

So while ketamine is safe to use in the controlled environment of a medical practice, it is potentially hazardous when taken for recreational reasons. All of this is concerning because it’s use is on the rise, particularly in the UK. According to Time Out magazine, ketamine is fast becoming Britain’s go-to party drug, with 2022 seeing record amounts of ketamine seized by UK police and border forces. A staggering 1 in 20 young people in the UK now claim to have tried ketamine.