Ketamine is an injectable anesthetic that has been
approved for both human and animal use in medical settings
since 1970. About 90 percent of the ketamine legally
sold today is intended for veterinary use. It's slang
or street names are Special K, K, Vitamin K or Cat Valiums.
Ketamine gained popularity for abuse in the 1980s,
when it was realized that large doses cause reactions
similar to those associated with use of phencyclidine
(PCP), such as dreamlike states and hallucinations.
Ketamine is produced in liquid form or as a white powder
that is often snorted or smoked with marijuana or tobacco
At higher doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia,
impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression,
and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Low-dose
intoxication from ketamine results in impaired attention,
learning ability, and memory. Because it is often colorless,
tasteless, and odorless, it can be added to beverages
and ingested unknowingly.
Emergency room mentions of ketamine rose from 19 in
1994 to 396 in 1999. Recent use has been reported more
frequently among white youth in many cities, including
Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St.
Paul, Newark, New York City, Phoenix, San Diego, Texas,
and Washington, DC.