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What is it?

Ketamine is an anaesthetic drug used typically for pain relief. It is also a dissociative drug, which causes visual and auditory distortions. Basically, it means we’re trippin! When purchased illegally, it is found as a whitish powder and can be made into pills or dissolved in a liquid. It is also known as horse tranquiliser, tranks, Special K, super K, K, ket, and KitKat.

Ketamine can be swallowed, snorted or injected. With injecting, there is risk of contracting blood borne viruses, such as hepatitis B & C and HIV if needles are shared. There is a risk of infection at the injecting site.

What are the effects?

If injected, the effects are felt immediately afterwards. If snorted, about 5-15 minutes, and when swallowed, about 30 minutes. The effects usually last about an hour.

  • Feeling happy and relaxed
  • Feeling detached from your body (‘falling into a k-hole’)
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Confusion and clumsiness
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Slurred speech and blurred vision
  • Anxiety, panic and violence
  • Vomiting
  • Lowered sensitivity to pain
  • Flashbacks
  • Poor sense of smell (from snorting)
  • Mood and personality changes, depression
  • Poor memory, thinking and concentration
  • Abnormal liver or kidney function and abdominal pain

Some people may experience ketamine bladder syndrome after prolonged or extended use. This is a painful condition needing ongoing treatment. Incontinence is the main symptom and this can cause ulceration in the bladder – and it’s probably as painful as it sounds. Anyone suffering from ketamine bladder syndrome needs to stop using ketamine and see a health professional.


If we take a large amount or a strong batch of ketamine, it’s possible to overdose. Knowing the signs of overdose helps keeps us and others safe, and when we might need to call an ambulance. Watch out for these symptoms and call 000 in an emergency:


Inability to move, rigid muscles


High blood pressure or fast heartbeat




Unconsciousness and near death experience

Mixing with other drugs

The effects of mixing ketamine with other drugs – including over the counter or prescribed medications can be unpredictable and dangerous. Do not mix ketamine with the following medications because it may increase the risk of overdose, and even death:

  • Alcohol
  • GHB
  • Opioids

There are a range of unsafe interactions to be cautious of when mixing ketamine and other drugs, and they can be found at TripSit.

HIV Medications

The interactions between ketamine and antiretroviral medications are not well known. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that ketamine use directly reduces the efficacy of antiretroviral medications. If some new research comes to light, then we’ll update this section and let you know.

We did find that a range of drugs could increase or decrease the effects, and level of effects from ketamine use. Additionally, some research suggests that combining ketamine with Ritonavir, Lopinavir or Cobacistat can lead to epigastric pain and hepatobiliary disorder, basically affecting the pancreas and surrounding areas.

The interactions between ketamine and PrEP and PEP are not well known. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that ketamine use directly interacts with these medications or reduces their efficacy. We’ll keep looking and update you if any new research comes to light.

To learn about the interactions between specific HIV medications and ketamine head to Liverpool HIV Drug Interactions Checker.


There’s currently no evidence to suggest that ketamine use directly reduces the efficacy of HRT. We’ll keep looking and update this information if something new comes to light.

While the interaction between Ketamine and HRT is not extensively researched, some research suggests that Oestradiol and Progesterone use may impact how we experience ketamine. This may involve changes to our psychological state, and potentially increased feelings of dissociation or detachment. Progesterone and Cyproterone Acetate can have sedative effects, so we may be particularly tired, fatigued or sleepy during or after taking ketamine.

For more information about ketamine head to the Australian Drug Foundation or TripSit.

The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way.