Ketamine tops cocaine as new drug of choice

By KomodoMK · Jan 15, 2009 · ·
  1. KomodoMK
    Ketamine tops cocaine as new drug of choice

    Government advisor ranks class C drug as more harmful than Ecstasy

    The horse tranquilliser ketamine is increasingly replacing cocaine as the substance of choice among Britain's recreational drug users, according to charities and experts.

    Use of the drug, known as "Special K" or "Raver's Smack", was found to be on the rise in nine out of 20 areas surveyed by the charity DrugScope. The British Crime Survey shows that use of the drug last year increased nationally by 10 per cent on 2006-07.

    Once seen as a drug exclusively for the rave and dance scene, its popularity is now growing among Britain's middle-class users due to its price – a gram of ketamine costs £20, half as much as the same amount of cocaine – and the fact that it is seen as a "safe" and "clean" drug.

    However, a survey carried out by Professor David Nutt, the chairman of the Government's drug advisory panel, ranks the class C drug as the sixth most dangerous illegal drug available – more harmful than Ecstasy and cannabis. The mistaken belief that the substance is risk-free is encouraging more young people to try ketamine and to take it in increasingly higher doses.

    But experts say that it can cause heart or lung failure and point to the fact that it has been linked to 23 deaths between 1993 and 2006. In 2006 it was classified as a class C drug.

    Martin Barnes, chief executive of DrugScope, said: "There is worrying evidence that people are experimenting with larger amounts or are even injecting the drug. Evidence of young people using ketamine is a particular concern, especially as many users may underestimate the risks involved."

    The popularity of the drug, which can be snorted, swallowed, injected and even smoked, has grown from an estimated 60,000 users between 1998 and 2000 to about 113,000 in 2008. At last year's Glastonbury festival, police seized double the amount of ketamine than they did at the 2007 event.

    The DrugScope survey shows that use of drug is increasing in Portsmouth, London, Bristol, Ipswich, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Blackpool and Newcastle. And police forces in many of these areas say they are aware of the increased prevalence of the drug. Its popularity is illustrated on the internet, with some users posting videos of themselves, high on the substance, on the video-sharing website YouTube.

    Mr Barnes added: "It is becoming very popular and it's a drug that a lot of people are talking about. The very fact that the price is falling shows how popular it is becoming. Three years ago, when we started this study, it was selling for about £30 a gram, now it is £20."

    He added: "The fall in price does suggest that the people who are selling the stuff have no problems getting hold of it."

    What is ketamine?

    Originally used to treat injured soldiers in Vietnam, ketamine is most commonly used now as a horse tranquilliser. It has also been experimented with to treat depression and alcohol and heroin addiction. It was classified as an illegal drug in 2006 by the UK Government. It is usually sold in powder or liquid form for about £20 per gram. Unlike cocaine and heroin, it is not physically addictive, but, like cannabis and Ecstasy, it is psychologically addictive.

    User's view: 'You forget about your normal life'

    David first tried ketamine as a 20-year-old student at university in London. Now a 27-year-old marketing executive, living in Shoreditch, east London, he still takes the drug once a month. "I see it as a fun, sociable drug," he said. "I do it at house parties or if I'm having a big night out. I used to do cocaine, but I suppose I gradually replaced coke with ket. Coke is much more expensive and it generally makes everyone very loud and aggressive. Ket is different. It costs less and you use it in smaller quantities so it lasts a lot longer. The feeling you get is different too. It makes you feel anaesthetised to your worries. You forget about your normal life and everything is euphoric. Sometimes I've had bad trips, but I've never felt angry when on ketamine. I think it is a lot safer too. I've read it can have long-term effects on your health, but it doesn't seem as dangerous as cocaine. When on coke I used to feel my heart pounding and it didn't feel right. The other reason I changed is because of the classification. I've got a proper job and a career and I don't want to lose that. Ketamine is a class C drug so if I get caught I'm probably only going to get a slap on the wrist."


    # Mark Hughes, Crime Correspondent
    # The Independant
    # January 15, 2009

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  1. cra$h
    ah, swim want to try it ssoooooo dammmnnnnn baddd.... and if it's better than coke? shit, swim's in!
  2. KomodoMK
    Little fishy definitely has Ket on his list to try and is quite surprised he hasn't yet. He could probably source it through a contact in a day or two. Not really noticed it's use picking up here though and has only come across a handful of users.
  3. cra$h
    Swim has no idea where he can find khet. If swim asked, he'd get laughs.
  4. Wierd Logic
    Ketamine usage is pretty widespread in Squirrells area! People who aren't involved in the scene mainly see it as dirty horse tranquiliser, those who have the openmindedness to try it change their opinions pretty quickly. Easily one of Squirrells favorites, and goes as an excellent combination to everything apart from cannibis and alcohol.
  5. KomodoMK
    Does SWIY live in one of the areas mentioned in the article? Could you give us an idea, even if you would prefer not to be specific. Like south-east? Thanks.
  6. cra$h
    Any other nations know what the khat scene looks like?
  7. ComfortablyNumb
    SWIM finds it hard to change people perception about the 'horse tranq' but has managed to peer pressure 2 poeple into in, and both enjoy it in moderate quantaties. SWIM finds ket much much more interesting that coke, many more feelings to enjoy.
  8. KomodoMK
    That's nice and responsible of SWIY, you're a real good friend. No-one should ever be or feel pressured into anything regardless of the outcome.
  9. ComfortablyNumb
    Sorry, did you not get that i wasnt being serious. Im a very good friend, don't judge me, you don't know me.
  10. KomodoMK
    You said it and I don't see a hint of sarcasm, and I'm not judging you, I'm making an observation on your original post. Regardless of weather you are serious or not, anyone who pressurises someone into doing something is not a good friend, respecting a friends decision makes you a good friend.
  11. ComfortablyNumb
    I wanted to write it like this: 'peer pressure' but i already had them next to it and though it looked weird. Nevermind. No i didnt pressure them into it, they just asked if they could try some because we were doing it and then found they liked it.
  12. Lettish
    Swim agrees with this. Swim's town is relatively small, certainly not a major city, but it has a University and is growing fast. Ketamine is obtainable quite easily around here and Swim has definitely noticed an increase in use. Out of Swim's friends, Swim was the first to try it out. And slowly, month after month, more and more of Swim's friends reported to have tried it. It is fast become a favourite of many people.

    Swiy is right it is hard to change non-users' opinions of ketamine. And Swim hates that it is labelled as a horse tranquiliser. It's just not fair that it has that stigma associated with it. Swim has persuaded a close friend to try it with him and he now has the ketamine cravings (or just notably a massive interest in it; always thinking and talking about it!)

    Swim does not like the way that ketamine is making it into the news. When Swim reads these news reports or hears it on the radio, all Swim can think about is those stupid users who administer way too much ketamine outside the safety of their own home, like in a club or around machinery. These are the people that will ruin ketamine for the, dare Swim say it, "proper" users. These people are making ketamine dangerous because of where they are using it, and thus causing harm to themselves. If everyone used it at home or at after-parties, away from "outside life" then it would not be in the news right now. Swim believes ketamine is an extremely safe drug and to the best of Swim's knowledge doesn't think anyone has died purely from ketamine. It's disappointing because soon enough ketamine will be re-graded to Class B, possibly Class A at this rate, and it will become even more expensive. Then it will start to get cut with various substances because of the price increase, and this will then make it more harmful, etc, etc, it's a vicious cycle.

    Swim will only ever use ketamine at home, in a safe environment, where he can't harm himself. And Swim believes everyone should follow this. It would reduce cases of ketamine causing harm (usually physical), reduce its negative stigma and ultimately let it remain the dissociative anaesthetic that it is now. Swim believes ketamine is being tested more and more to be used more often in human medicine and for the treatment of human illnesses, but if things carry on the way they are, the Government won't allow it to be scientifically researched, which is bad.
  13. Wierd Logic

    He thinks a lot of it is just being lucky enough to know the right people - the circles are quite large, but hide themselves away...
  14. Dickon
    Crash: Point of information: Khat is something quite different from Ket(amine).
  15. Sven99
    My window never used to hear about it, but now comes across users fairly regularly.

    That said, my window now has many more friends into their recreationals than he used to, so this doesn't necessarily indicate much.
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