Alcohol & Drugs
A picture of Ketamine

What’s the deal with ketamine?

Ketamine is a drug used by medical practitioners and veterinarians as a general anaesthetic. It has a hallucinogenic effect on the body causing a person to see, hear, smell, taste or feel things differently to what they are in reality.

When sold as an illicit street drug ketamine is usually found as a white, crystalline powder. It may also be manufactured into tablet form, sold as pills or dissolved into a liquid.

How does it work?

Ketamine can be swallowed, snorted or injected. Sometimes it is smoked with cannabis or tobacco.

Effects

There is no such thing as a SAFE level of drug use. Substance use carries risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any form of drug, especially those that may be manufactured illegally.

If injected, the effects of ketamine can be felt almost immediately. Smoking or swallowing the drug may vary the length of time it takes for the effects to be felt. Ketamine may affect people differently based on:

  • A person’s body weight
  • General state of health
  • Regular use of substance
  • If taken in combination with other drugs including prescription medication
  • The amount that is consumed
  • Quality of the drug (this may vary depending on its form)

Short Term Effects

In the short term use of ketamine is likely to result in the following:

  • Increased feeling of happiness
  • A sense of detachment from your body – falling into the K-hole
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion, clumsiness and lowered pain sensitivity
  • Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Anxiety and panic attacks

Long Term Effects

Like any substance, regular use of amphetamine may result in the following effects to your health:

  • Headaches
  • Changes in mood and personality  
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration and memory loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drug Dependency

Ketamine bladder syndrome

Taken in large, repeated doses ketamine may cause a painful, ongoing condition known as ketamine bladder syndrome. Symptoms include incontinence and ultimately ulceration to the bladder. Anyone who may be experiencing a difficulty holding urine or an inability to pee should cease the use of ketamine and seek advice from a health professional.

Coming Down

Coming down off Ketamine can be pretty hard. It's quite the low, but what goes up must come down.  You'll be feeling all sorts of feelings while coming down, don't go thinking it's all over, your mental health is going through a come down and the feelings pass in time. 

Comedown feelings might include:

  • Memory loss
  • Impaired judgement
  • Disorientation
  • Clumsiness
  • Aches and pains
  • Depression

Your body has probably been through quite a bit as well, so what can you do to look after yourself?

Here are a few tips:

  • Firstly make sure you eat heaps before you use. It really helps. Keep eating too!
  • Make sure your fridge is stocked before you use, so you can easily make food when you are partying as well as coming down. Nutrition is really important.
  • Keep hydrated, drink plenty of water.
  • Consider planning a day or two off work to comedown so that you don't mess up with your job by taking lots of sickies.
  • If you are on any HIV meds or PrEP, put a reminder in your phone so you don't forget to take them. Take a few days worth of meds out with you if you are having a big weekend. Also check out the section below on drug interactions for people living with HIV.
  • Pamper yourself and do the things that make you feel safe and comfy. Hot shower, bath time, hanging out with friends, sleeping and watching trashy TV.
  • Relax with some chilled music, this is a good playlist: LISTEN HERE
  • Sometimes, coming down makes you feel a bit emotional, having a cry is totally ok and can kind of help shift the feelings. Daryl can lend a hand to help you express these feelings to feel free again.

Safety

The safest thing you can do is to not do any drugs, m'kay? But let's be realistic, people use drugs. Some people really enjoy it, but for others it can become really problematic either for their health and wellbeing, their relationships, their jobs, their financial security or all of the above. Not only this, but some people can also develop a dependance and this can lead further problems if it isn't addressed early or easily managed.

If you are going to use drugs, it's best to be safe about it. It's your choice to determine what you put in your body, but whatever you do remember to be safe and responsible - with yourself and with others.

We've got some helpful tips to consider.

  • Set limits for yourself, and stick to them.
  • Don’t let other people pressure you into doing drugs.
  • Try to avoid mixing drugs with other drugs or be informed about the risks.
  • Try to be aware of exactly what you are taking and how much you are taking.
  • Eat before you party and stay hydrated with water.
  • If you are going out for a big night, leave your bank cards at home and set a cash limit for yourself, leaving enough to get home by taxi.
  • Tell some trusted friends what you're planning to do.

Safer Injecting

If you are injecting, it’s important to use clean injecting equipment and to avoid sharing needles or other injecting equipment. Blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV can be transmitted through sharing equipment.  So with that being said it’s important to be aware of where blood can end up. Blood may not only remain on or in needles and syringes but also on other equipment and surfaces such as your skin, on your hands or the top of a table. You can’t always see blood so don’t assume that just because you can’t see it that it isn’t there. Make sure you wash your hands and clean the area where you are preparing to inject.Injecting drug use and the sharing of equipment with others put you at increased risk of:

  • Vein damage and permanent scarring
  • Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Tetanus and HIV transmission
  • Deep vein thrombosis and clots – this may result in the loss of limbs, damage to organs, stroke and possibly even death

Mixing with Other Drugs

Ketamine + Alcohol or Opiates may lead to a reduced awareness of the amount of combined depressants being taken. This could result in overdose. Signs of overdose may include nausea and vomiting, slowed heart rate and breathing, coma and possibly even death.

Ketamine + Amphetamines, Ecstasy and Cocaine place an enormous strain on the body leading to an increased heart rate and the possibility of heart failure and or stroke.

Living with HIV

All recreational drug use whether it's with a legalised substance or not is likely to interact and maybe even interfere with your ARV's. Those drug interactions are the very thing that can lead to ARV treatment failure. By all means go hard on the weekend - just make sure that you are checking in regularly with an experienced HIV medical practitioner.

Interactions with HIV Medications

If you are living with HIV and take a protease inhibitor (PI) as part of your treatment regime - the PI’s are likely to increase the overall effect of Ketamine on the body. You may experience a heavier sedation with the effects of the drug lasting longer along with an increased heart rate and blood pressure. If you are taking Norvir, in combination with Ketamine this may increase the risk of drug induced hepatitis.

Taking Hormones

For trans, gender diverse or intersex people who are taking some form of hormone therapy, it's important to be aware and informed of how your body processes these treatments.

Currently, there is limited information into the interactions and cross interactions of hormone therapy and recreational drug use but that doesn't mean we'll stop asking for it. Whether your hormones are prescribed by a doctor or you've sourced them yourself from the internet, make it a priority to get regular health checks. Sometimes, a change in dosage or preparation of hormones is needed and a qualified medical practitioner is the person best placed to advise you of this.

If you're not comfortable talking about your gender, gender identity or bodily difference with your doctor, get in touch and we can make recommendations for a service that is best placed to support your needs.

Interactions with Hormones

We don't know of any negative interactions between ketamine and hormones treatments. This does not mean that it is safe. Exercise caution when mixing any form of drugs.

Treatment

Unless you're pharlap your ketamine use may be leaving you feeling a little more than sleppy? If it's begun to have a negative impact on your overall health or your relationships with family and friends, your ability to focus on work or study or perhaps even the bottom line on your bank account - it's time to TouchBase with somebody who can help.

There are a number of treatment options and support services available for you, for your family or friends if they need it.

Whatever your recovery goals are, if it is to control, reduce or stop smokng, reach out for some support.

Counselling & Support

Counselling can be provided individually or in a group situation, and is available to people who use alcohol or other drugs, and to their family members or support people. A support service can offer counselling or direct you to a service appropriate for you. Speak to your doctor, alcohol and other drugs treatment service or local community health service.

Find help and support services.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation programs take a long term approach to treatment to help you achieve your goals with your alcohol or other drug use. Residential withdrawal is also available from some treatment services.

Find out more about withdrawal.

Complementary therapies

These include treatments such as massage and relaxation therapies, which can be useful to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. 

Peer support 

These programs are provided for people who use alcohol and other drugs, and their family members or support person/s. 

Withdrawal & Rehab

Giving up after using Ketamine if you've been gung-ho at it for a period is a challenging task. Withdrawal symptoms usually last from 4 to 6 days. Symptoms can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Restlessness and body tremors
  • Nightmares, anxiety and depression
Important notice

Please note: The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way. Individuals wanting medical advice about Ketamine should consult a health professional.