Just Say Neigh
Cambridge Students were paid to take the drug Ketamine as part of a study carried out by the Psychiatry department.
It emerged today that Cambridge students were injected with Ketamine as part of a study carried out last term.
Students were paid £250 each to take the drug via injection.
In total, 15 students were exposed to the drug. In the experiment, researchers tickled one of the subject’s hands while showing them a false rubber hand being stroked. The aim was to establish whether Ketamine made participants more or less likely to then identify the rubber hand as their own.
Professor Paul Fletcher and PhD student Hannah Morgan of the Department of Psychiatry carried out the study, which aimed to investigate treatments for the mental illness schizophrenia.
Both schizophrenia and Ketamine are known to induce the experience of ‘illusory body ownership’, the belief that an external object is part of your own body.
Ketamine is commonly used as a horse tranquillizer, but it is increasingly being used by many as a recreational drug. The substance, also known as Special K, K or Ket, can make users feel disassociated from their body and induce hallucinations. The Government classifies it as a Class C drug.
Fletcher and Morgan deny that those being tested were exposed to an “unacceptable risk” of ill effects.
In a statement they said: “all participants undergo intensive screening beforehand, in terms of their history of physical or mental illness and of past drug abuse.”
However, reports from those involved tell a different story. One PhD student described how she began to hallucinate as researchers increased the dose.
“It made me feel scared. It felt like the bed was floating up and I felt very disorientated… I couldn’t find my way to the bathroom. It was quite disturbing.
“I needed money at the time and I wouldn’t do it again.”
John Mitchell, a spokesman for drugs rehabilitation service Rehab Guide, has called the study a “dangerous game.”
He said, ”This is encouraging people to use ketamine for monetary reward. It’s immoral. That’s just a personal opinion but it’s a very dangerous game.”
Side effects from the drug range from panic attacks and high blood pressure to potentially fatal respiratory problems, and permanent bladder damage.
“Class C may be the wrong class” for such a dangerous substance, claims David Nutt, former chairman of the government’s advisory council.
The drug currently considered safe enough to be injected into students, could soon be upgraded to Class B alongside mephedrone, cannabis, and speed.