Everything you need to know about taking ketamine for the first time

I promise you won’t turn into a horse

Ket. K. Special K. Whatever you call it, you’ve definitely heard of ketamine. A regular guest at many a house party or club night, ket is often associated with making the good times that bit better. But it also comes with a variety of risks. Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know before taking ketamine for the first time.

Firstly, what even is ket?


Ket is an anaesthetic used in medical procedures. It was first used by vets on animals but is now given to humans as well during some procedures.

As a street-drug, ket usually comes in the form of a white, crystallised powder that can look like little shards.

People usually snort ket

Users often snort it by taking a “bump” off a key, while others do it in lines. This is risky as if you don’t know the strength, a whole line could seriously fuck you up.

Also, if the ket looks particularly shardy, you should probably crush it up a bit before snorting it, otherwise chances are, it’s going to hurt your shnozz on the way up.

While most people snort ket, others inject it, swallow it as a tablet or “bomb” it. “Bombing” is a term used for wrapping a small amount of the powder in cigarette paper and swallowing it.

Ket can take about 15 minutes to take effect

If you snort ket it can take around 15 minutes to kick in, but if you ingest it orally it could be an hour before you start feeling the effects.

You’ll probably feel the effects for 30 minutes to an hour, but this can be affected by how much you take and what you take it with.

You feel like you’re detached from reality

Ket has a variety of potential effects but can make you feel happy, as if you’re in a dream-like state, a bit detached from reality, a bit hazy and perhaps a little drunk. Others have reported hallucinations and changes to their perception of time.

People on ket may seem more chilled out and slow in their movements. Equally they might stop making a whole lot of sense.

Good reviews


The Tab spoke to couple of young people who take ket regularly to see what they enjoy about the drug. Their names have been changed to preserve their anonymity.

Mikey told The Tab: “After each bump I’ll feel excited and more energetic for about 40 minutes. After a second or third bump, parts of my body would start to become numb and my legs will turn to jelly. The sensation of walking becomes quite jokes and I do that thing where I think there’s a step in front of me and stumble.

“Also, shortly after each bump, more so after I’ve done a few, I’ll get the drip at the back of my throat and I’ll be able to taste it and that’s grim.”

James said: “I like how it’s a bit dissociative and nullifies some of your senses in the same way alcohol does. It’s really easy to overdo it but I’ve found if you take it in really small amounts it can just make you feel a bit euphoric and loosen some inhibitions which makes it ideal for clubs or festivals. It’s also a lot less expensive than buying drinks on a night out and you don’t really get hangover.”


After using ket it’s possible you could experience low mood for up to a few days and some people report feeling, tired, drained or hazy the day after use. However, there are no physical withdrawal symptoms associated with the substance.

So, what’s a ‘k-hole’?

If you take too much ketamine, you may go into a  k-hole. This can be a confusing state in which you feel like your mind and body are no longer connected but you have no ability to do anything about it.

But what’s the science? Ketamine disrupts the processes involving a chemical called glutamate in the brain. Glutamate is involved in understanding, learning, memory, the perception of pain, and emotion. By disrupting the processes involved with the chemical, ket can create an intensely dissociative feeling. This is the dreaded k-hole.

Some people actually enjoy being in a k-hole but for many it’s an intensely scary experience. If you think a friend has gone into a k-hole or has reacted to any drug badly, you should call 999 immediately.

Bad experiences on ket

Although the people The Tab spoke to said they had had predominantly good experiences on ket, some reported having the occasional negative trip.

Ethan said: “I had a bad one once when I did it too much after drinking a fair bit in a club. I fell into a nasty k-hole and felt like I was sinking. I started throwing up badly in the smoking area and had to be taken home. I’d always say in small amounts it’s good but if you do too much it can easily turn.”

Billy told The Tab: “I’d been keying ket all night and thought I’d been pacing myself quite well. I left the club and then suddenly entered this weird state where I was convinced I was dying and going to heaven.

“The next thing I noticed, I was back in reality throwing up out of a taxi. The effects wore off quickly after that. This is the only time I’ve ever had a bad experience on ket in about five years of using the substance. My advice would be to take it in moderation and not to drink too much with it.”

Does ket pose any other risks to your physical health?

The short answer is yes. As ketamine is a powerful anaesthetic, it can be very harmful and potentially fatal if taken in large quantities or mixed with other drugs.

Ket can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, make you feel sick, as well as potentially damaging your memory. There’s also a risk posed by the fact that ketamine will hamper your ability to feel pain meaning that you run the risk of hurting yourself and not realising it.

Ket can also lead to serious bladder problems, damage to the kidneys, liver and urinary tract, with heavy use potentially leading to incontinence. People also report abdominal pain, often referred to as “k-cramps.”

What about the mental health risks?

Regular ket use can cause depression and less frequently, hallucinations. If you have existing mental health problems, ket could make them worse.

What’s ket cut with?

Buying any street drug runs the risk of it being cut with other substances. Ket can be cut with other white powders like chalk, baking soda or coffee creamer and is sometimes even miss-sold as other substances like methoxetamine.

Websites like Pill Report offer home testing kits that claim to enable you to tell what chemicals are in your baggy.

What happens when you mix ketamine with other stuff?

Some people choose to mix ket with other drugs. Mixing it with coke is sometimes referred to as “Calvin Klein” and involves alternating between the two substances throughout the session. Others take ket in combination with MDMA to produce a more hallucinatory experience or to lessen the feeling of coming down from a high.

Mixing ket with other substances can expose you to new and often unknown risks. Combining ket with depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines could cause you to pass out or collapse. When mixed with stimulants like MDMA or speed, you could experience raised blood pressure

Can you get addicted?

You can become addicted to ket if you take it regularly. People who take it often can develop a tolerance meaning that they end up taking more to get the desired effect.

Can you get done for possession?

Ket is a Class B drug meaning that it is illegal for you to possess it, give it to someone else or to sell. If caught by the police with ketamine, you could be fined or face up to five years in prison.

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