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Ketamine is a short-acting "dissociative" anesthetic due to its ability to separate perception from sensation. It also has hallucinogenic and painkilling qualities that seem to affect people in very different ways. . Ketamine is chemically related to PCP ('Angel Dust'). Ketamine is occasionally administered to people but, more commonly, is used by vets for pet surgery. Generally street K is most often diverted in liquid form from vets' offices or medical suppliers.
Slang terms for Ketamine include: Special K, Ketalar, Ketaject, Ketaset, Super-K, "K", Ket Kat, Cat Valium, and Vitamin K.
Special K is prepared by evaporating the liquid from the legitimate pharmaceutical injectable product and grinding the residue into a powder. Drying of the liquid has been reported to be accomplished by placing the liquid on warming trays, pancake griddles, or cast-iron skillets placed on low heat. More recent reports describe the use of microwaves to achieve a fast boiling-off of the liquid to dry crystals. There has been no reported clandestine manufacture of ketamine (which would be a difficult process). All of the ketamine encountered by law enforcement to date has been diverted from licit sources, burglaries of veterinary clinics being the most frequently reported source.
Special-K is usually snorted or swallowed as a powder or injected as a liquid intramuscularly. Sometimes, it is put on tobacco or marijuana and smoked. It is distributed as powder in small "personal use" cocaine-like bottles, ziplock bags, capsules, or paper, glassine or aluminum 'folds', or as a liquid in small vials or bottles. Specialized "puff pumpers", small bottles with a small inhaler screw-on top designed to deliver approx. 40 mg of ketamine crystals, have been sold in "Rave" clubs. A 10ml vial of veterinary product containing one gram of ketamine sells, on average, for $100 on the street. A typical street package of powder (100 - 200 mg) sells for about $20. In the past, other drugs were not usually mixed with ketamine; now however, MDMA, amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine, carisoprodol, and flunitrazepam have been encountered.
Ketamine as "Special K" or "K" has become a staple at 'rave' parties. It produces a dose-related progression of effects from a state of dreamy intoxication to delirium accompanied by the inability to move, feel pain or remember what has occurred while under the drug's influence.
Abuse of Ketamine (pronounced Kee-ta-meen) goes hand in hand with gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB) and MDMA (Ecstasy). Where you find one, you will likely find the others. All three are very popular with the RAVE party crowd. Ketamine hcl, a cat tranquilizer and the most commonly used anesthetic in the Vietnam War, was popular in the 70's. Ketamine is a psychedelic anesthetic classified medically as a dissociative anesthetic, discovered by Dr. Cal Stevens of Wayne State University in 1961. Heavily used on the battlefields of Vietnam, it is used today for short-term surgical procedures in both animals and humans. It is sold only to hospitals and physicians. Since it does not depress critical body vitals, it is often used in procedures with burn victims for example.
Special K has exploded in the past few months onto the suburban drug scene. In February, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned that use is increasing at teen "rave" parties, the marathon dances that have spawned a new youth subculture. Anti-drug czar Barry McCaffrey's office added K to its list of "emerging drugs" in 1995; the office's latest "pulse check" of the nation found K "all over." St. Louis, Mo., Tampa, Fla., and suburban New Jersey have seen a rash of animal-hospital break-ins by thieves hunting for Ketamine.
Ketamine can cause a tremendous psychological dependence and may be physically addicting as well. The dissociation from one's consciousness experienced with Special K (the entrance to "K-Land") can be highly seductive, and there are many cases of Ketamine addiction. If used regularly, users of Special K can quickly build a tolerance to the drugs effects. Special K is illegal and possession can result in long prison terms.