Ketamine use 'rising among young' - BBC

By Lettish · Jan 15, 2009 · Updated Jan 15, 2009 · ·
  1. Lettish
    Ketamine use 'rising among young'

    Source: -

    There has been a rise in the number of young people taking the Class C drug ketamine, a charity warns.

    DrugScope found users experimenting with stronger doses, including injecting the drug which increases infection risk from shared needles.

    Increased use was found in nine out of 20 studied areas: London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Ipswich, Bristol, Blackpool, Portsmouth, Nottingham and Sheffield.

    The Home Office said use of the drug would continue to be monitored.

    Ketamine was made illegal three years ago after a surge in the number of people using it as a recreational drug.

    It is legal in low doses for medicinal use as an anaesthetic and a horse tranquiliser.

    Dance drug

    The investigation by DrugScope's magazine Druglink uncovered evidence that people were experimenting with larger amounts of ketamine as the price of the drug fell.

    A gram had dropped in price by a third during the past three years and now cost £20 - half the price of a gram of cocaine.

    Also known as K, Special K and Vitamin K, the drug has a strong following on the dance scene.

    Usually it is snorted or swallowed but the charity discovered more people were injecting it in an attempt to experience stronger hallucinations, which increases the risk of infection from dirty needles.

    At low doses the user may feel euphoric, experience waves of energy, and possibly synaesthesia - sensations such as seeing sounds or hearing colours.

    At higher doses the user might become paralysed, experience hallucinations and alternate realities, and a feeling of disassociation giving an out-of-body experience known as the "K-hole".


    The researchers found that ketamine use was on the rise in nine out of 20 areas surveyed, although it remained low when compared to cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.

    Ketamine was linked to the deaths of 23 people between 1993 and 2006. Most had accidents after taking the drug.

    DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes said young people underestimated the dangers they took when using the drug.

    He said: "Ketamine's harms increase considerably at high doses and injecting users risk exposure to blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis C or HIV."

    A Home Office spokesman said: "While findings from the British Crime Survey show that less than half of 1% of all respondents reported the use of ketamine in 2007/08, and that there was no statistically significant change in this figure compared to the previous year, it is a dangerous drug that can cause serious harm to those who do use it."

    02:59 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

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  1. Pondlife
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  2. Lettish
    Edited. Hope this is better.
  3. enquirewithin
    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.[imgl=red][/imgl]

    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."

    By Mark Hughes, Crime Correspondent, Thursday, 15 January 2009


    I wonder if this is a prelude to a 'crack down' on ketamine in the UK? Anyway, the UK is years behind other parts of the world.:)

    The source for this 'news' is Drugscope, according to the BBC article.
  4. Nature Boy
    "At higher doses the user might become paralysed, experience hallucinations and alternate realities, and a feeling of disassociation giving an out-of-body experience known as the "K-hole"."

    Nice. Now journalists don't even use real words. It's dissociation, not dis-association.
  5. Wierd Logic
    Squirell wouldn't buy a gram at those prices!
    The articles are definitely right about an increase in usage - squirrell is always surprised ketamine isn't given more media attention with its wideness of use in the U.K.
  6. enquirewithin
    Perhaps because it doesn't cause significant social problems when used as a club drug. The worst that generally happens is that people fall over in a dangerous place. Serious problems only seem to occur with serious abuse.

    The 'horse tranquilizer' angle is slightly newsworthy.
  7. Sven99
    More statistical mayhem - 23 deaths between '93 and '06 is a really tiny number.

    And why is it always referred to as a horse tranquilizer when its used for lots of different animals and also widely in humans?
  8. TMM
    Because horses are big. It sounds more impressive. I've heard K-heads use the term as well, in the usual 'my drug is more hardcore than your drug' conversations...
  9. honourableone
    DrugScope: More people taking ketamine and in higher doses

    Rise follows Home Office decision to ban drug in 2006

    A DrugScope investigation has found that ketamine is being taken by more people and in higher doses, despite being made illegal three years ago.

    In January 2006, the Home Office made ketamine a Class C drug, on a par with anabolic steroids. But an investigation published in the charity's magazine, Druglink, drawing on information from the police, drugs projects and researchers, has found evidence of increased and more dangerous use.

    While the drug, which has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, has traditionally been seen as a 'club drug', the number of cases of people injecting it is on the up, DrugScope found.
    Article continues below the advertisement

    Neil Brooks, manager of Nottingham drug project Chill Out Sound Support, told Community Care it was encountering this trend as well as increased use overall of the drug.

    Sixth most harmful drug

    Ketamine was rated as the sixth most harmful drug in a 2007 study headed by Professor David Nutt of Bristol University, now chair of the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

    The NHS administers the drug in small doses as a medical anaesthetic and, very occasionally, as a pain killer. However, DrugScope said the high doses typical of illegal ketamine use risk serious injury, unconsciousness and potential respiratory collapse or heart failure.

    DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes said: “These trends are extremely concerning. Ketamine has become increasingly common on the club scene but there is worrying evidence that people are experimenting with larger amounts. Ketamine’s harm increases considerably at high doses.”

    Mounting evidence of increased use

    The DrugScope investigation follows mounting evidence of the increased use of ketamine.

    The Independent Drugs Monitoring Unit has reported that the number of people using the drug in the UK rose from 60-65,000 between 1998 and 2000 to 85-90,000 in 2007.
    Article continues below the advertisement

    And a DrugScope report in 2008 found ketamine had become a major street drug in eight of fifteen UK towns and cities surveyed and nine out of twenty areas reported increases in use, while it also identified a fall in the average price of a gram from £28 to £20.

    No plans to reclassify

    A Home Office spokesperson said the advisory council continued to monitor the situation with respect to ketamine but there were no plans to reclassify the drug.

    Its status as a Class C drug means dealers can be imprisoned for up to 14 years and face an unlimited fine, while users can face two years in jail and a fine.

    According to the a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology last year, there were 23 deaths in the UK between 1993 and 2006 which can be attributed to ketamine.

    Written 15 January 2009 by Jesse Whittock
    Source -

    honourableone added 1 Minutes and 52 Seconds later...

    Ketamine does seem to be getting a lot of press recently, and an increase in usage does follow what SWIM had been noticing. It's yet another example where making a substance illegal or increasing it's classification has been followed by an increase in usage.
  10. enquirewithin
    According to a study in the Journal of Forensic Science of

    J Forensic Sci.
    2000 May;45(3):655-8: Ketamine in non-hospital and hospital deaths in New York City: Gill JR, Stajíc M.

    Note that only 15 were due to recreational use and that being used (cocaine, amphetamines). It could be speculated that ketamine overdoses can occur when it is combined with cocaine, amphetamines, ethanol and (I'm sure I have read of cases) with alcohol.

    Most of Drugscope's information is reasonably balanced, but where does the evidence for this come from:

    Whilst there are risks of injury using ketamine, and Karl Jansen has pointed out the possible psychological problems, my guess is that Martin Barne's is more interested in funding for his project than educating the public.
  11. Frond
    Hmmm, the drug is banned in 2006 and now there is a rise in recreational and illicit use. Clearly, prohibition is working as intended.

    According to the first article most of the deaths were from "accidents after taking the drug," which I take to mean that the person had K in their system at the time of death, but the drug wasn't directly pharmacologically responsible for it. Which, in reality, means that there were a lot less than 23 deaths between '93 and '06, which is a tiny number considering the wide-spread use of the drug.

    Clearly, a dangerous substance. Get it off the streets! Think of our children!
  12. cannabis-sam
    Yeah SWIM has noticed ketamine has really got popular in the last year in his social circles. SWIM thinks he might try it soon. Seems a standard trend that a drug is banned and then it becomes popular. Can no one see sense in this day and age? It's incomprehensible.
  13. enquirewithin
    Of course, there's more money to be made when something is banned!:) It may also be hat it was getting popular but prohibition doesn't stop people doing what they want to do-- it just increases risks and enriches criminals.
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