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The dangers of ketamine


Ketamine is primarily used by medical practitioners and veterinarians as an anaesthetic but is abused by users as an hallucinogenic dissociative drug.

According to Karen Griessel, a social worker at SANCA Wedge Gardens substance abuse treatment centre, ketamine is usually sold on the street as a bitter tasting, grainy, white powder. Users usually swallow, snort or inject it.

“As a general anaesthetic, ketamine reduces sensations in the body, with effects lasting a couple of hours. These effects include being detached and dream-like, relaxed and happy, because it alters the user’s perception of time and space, which leads to hallucinations and numbs pain,” says Griessel.

“If you take too much ketamine, you go into the ‘k-hole’, which users describe as feeling detached from sensations and their surroundings, as if they are floating outside their body,” she adds.

Physical risks to one’s health include increased blood pressure; memory loss; bladder problems; urinary tract issues, due to kidneys being affected; and liver damage. Mental risks include depression, mood changes, personality changes, psychosis and addiction.

“Sadly, this drug is also abused as a date rape drug, as the person who it has been given to finds it difficult to move,” says Griessel.

For more information about SANCA Wedge Gardens and its Full Circle Recovery Programme, contact 011 430 0320 or 010 534 6596 or visit

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