Drugs A to Z

Ketamine: Factsheet

Targeted Drugs:

This resource has undergone expert review.

Year 9–10, Year 11–12
Time Allocated

Partial lesson (under 45mins)





What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is also known as K, Ket, special K, Vitamin K, or horse tranquiliser.

Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride) is a white powder, usually sold in ‘bumps’ or grams. A ‘bump’ is a small amount of powder which is snorted through a small glass inhaler called a bumper. Ketamine can also be swallowed, smoked, or injected.

Ketamine is commonly used by veterinarians to sedate animals such as horses. As with all drugs sold in powder form, ketamine may also be sold ‘cut’ (mixed) with other white powder substances which may or may not be harmful- people using this drug can never be 100% sure of what they’re getting. 

What are the effects of Ketamine?

If snorted or ‘bumped’, ketamine takes effect within 5-10 minutes (longer if swallowed). Its effects can last for a couple of hours.

The effects of ketamine vary, but may include:

Immediate Long-term
Increased heart rate and body temperature Dependence (see glossary)
Drowsiness Problems with memory, attention, and decision making
Feeling of euphoria (a ‘high’) Mental health problems
Loss of coordination Ulcerative cystitis – symptoms include frequent and painful urination, cramps and involuntary urination.
Slurred speech Intense abdominal pains known as ‘K-cramps’
Feeling dizzy or faint Kidney problems
Confusion and disorientation  
Numbness and a feeling of paralysis  
Nausea and vomiting  
Anxiety and panic attacks  
Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there)  
Paranoia (feeling extremely suspicious and frightened)  
Psychosis (see glossary)  
An experience known as the ‘K-hole’ which is the feeling of being trapped in a state of detachment. This can be frightening  

Evidence Base

This factsheet was developed following expert review by researchers at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, and the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University.

Download attachment for more information on Ketamine and a list of sources.
Download 'Ketamine: What you need to know'

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