People looking to get high will go just about anywhere, or try just about anything, in order to achieve their goal of escape from mundane reality. Adolescents can be especially reckless in their pursuit of mind-numbing intoxication, since they tend to see themselves as immune and indestructible.
This helps explain the popularity of the drug ketamine. In its normal incarnation, ketamine is a pre-surgical general anesthetic used widely in medical and veterinary settings. This substance is most certainly not appropriate for casual human consumption, and yet it has become something of a fixture in the always edgy club drug realm. Ketamine is chemically related to PCP and follows similar pathways in the brain, although it is only one-tenth as potent. But 10 percent of PCP is still a bomb, and people who consume ketamine for pleasure are playing with dynamite.
Ketamine comes in liquid form and is often injected into the bloodstream for a fast and powerful effect. But through evaporation it can be turned into powder or tablets for snorting or swallowing, and it is frequently mixed with marijuana for smoking as well. Much of the ketamine taken for recreation is diverted from prescriptions or stolen from clinics or veterinary offices, but illegal supplies are now being smuggled across the border by Mexican drug cartel operators eager to cash in on new opportunities.
In its effects, ketamine is a hallucinogen. In its initial appearance on the 1970s drug scene, ketamine was popular with “turn on, tune in, drop out” types looking to add variety to their mind-tripping experiences. Ketamine is what is known as a dissociative anesthetic, which means it can produce feelings of bodily detachment while distorting sensual perceptions. The visual hallucinations associated with ketamine can be terrifying when the drug is taken in high doses, and some users have reported intense out-of-body experiences that mimic reported near-death states. A ketamine rush will usually last between one and two hours, but consumers can remain partially impaired for up to 24 hours.
Side Effects Of Ketamine
Like all drugs, ketamine can cause a whole host of nasty side effects. Some of the most commonly reported include:
- elevated heart rate
- loss of balance and coordination
- breathing problems
- chest pains
- nausea and/or vomiting
- urinary tract toxicity
- violent behavior
Overdose deaths are not common with ketamine, but all anesthetics are capable of suppressing bodily functions to a dangerous extent if used to excess.
Withdrawal Symptoms Of Ketamine
Heavy ketamine abuse does seem to cause a degree of physical addiction in addition to a strong psychological dependency. The withdrawal symptoms caused by abstention after long-term use include:
- excessive sweating
- tearing eyes
- excitation to the point of hyperactivity
- random hallucinations
- intense cravings
These intense cravings leave victims desperate to get their hands on fresh supplies of the drug.
Teen Ketamine Abuse By The Numbers
More than 75 percent of ketamine users are between the ages of 12 and 25. Few drugs are as tightly confined to the youth demographic as the substance known as “Special K”; teen abuse of ketamine isn’t just a part of the problem, it is the problem, and that is why no parent can afford to be ignorant about the realities of the threat this drug poses.
Fortunately, a lot of kids seem to have gotten the message and have chosen to stay away from ketamine. In the early 2000s, annual use rates were at 1.6 percent, 2.1 percent and 2.5 percent for 8th, 10th and 12th graders respectively, but the latest data shows a sharp decline from these peak numbers. In the most recent statistics reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, yearly consumption rates for these three groups were down to 0.8 percent for 8th graders, 1.2 percent for high school sophomores and 1.4 percent for seniors. By ratio, this represents a cumulative drop-off approaching 50 percent, which is obviously encouraging news and a sign that, at least for the moment, ketamine has gone somewhat out of fashion.
But in general, hallucinogens have been undergoing something of a renaissance among all age groups. This could eventually lead aspiring psycho-nauts back to ketamine for the mind-blowing experience it offers. Complacency with any drug is never a good idea, and with the Mexican drug cartels involved in the picture, plentiful supplies are bound to be available should interest in ketamine jump back to its previous level.
Treatment For Ketamine Abuse Can Make The Difference
Young people showing signs of drug dependency can benefit tremendously from early intervention. Treatment professionals know how to help kids who have gotten in over their heads with ketamine, and they are prepared to offer whatever services are required to end any type of physical or psychological dependency.
Kids who experiment with drugs like ketamine are putting their futures at risk. As a result, fast action is appropriate and necessary whenever adolescents show the slightest indication of substance abuse. It is not always easy to spot the symptoms of trouble, but paying attention and staying involved in kids’ lives will always make a positive difference and is highly recommended in every circumstance.
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