Ketamine Update - 7-13-01
A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski
On July 13, 2001 in an article entitled
Being Targeted for Drug", Micheal Rubinkam of the Associated Press
reported that the number of burglaries of veterinary
clinics top obtain an animal tranquilizer ketamine hydrochloride (Special
K). This report was made in spite of the fact that he states
latter in the article that there
are no national statistics on the number of thefts of ketamine from animal
This article is
Here are the facts presented in the article:
DEA has Concerns About Ketamine: The DEA believes that there is
a serious problem with addicts burglarizing
Description of Ketamine: Ketamine hydrochloride is is a powerful
animal tranquilizer that produces a euphoric high. It is chemically
similar to PCP. Its street name is Special K or Cat Valium. It
has street price of about $20 per dose as of July 2001.
Route of Administration: Ketamine hydrochloride can be smoked,
inhaled like cocaine or added to drinks for a hallucinogenic high.
Drug Effects: Ketamine hydrochloride produces a variety of
effects dependent upon the dose level. In low doses it produces
euphoria. At higher doses it produces a stupor, and at still higher
doses it can be fatal. The drug can result in permanent brain damage
and slow the heart rate to the point of death. It can also cause
convulsions, especially when taken in large dosages, and vomiting when
mixed with alcohol. Some abusers engage in "polydrugging"
by mixing ``Special K'' with other drugs such as Ecstasy.
Classification As a Date Rape Drug: Ketamine is considered one
of the ``date-rape'' drugs because it can cause users to fall into a
stupor that makes them easy to victimize sexually.
Trends In Use Patterns: Ketamine has been used for a number of
years, but because of its association with the club scene is expanding its
Death & Emergency Room Visits: From
1994 to 1999, the drug was associated with 67 deaths in 40 cities surveyed
by the Drug Abuse Warning Network. This is about 11 deaths per year
spread over 40 cities which is not even one death per city.
Emergency room visits in those same cities increased from 19 in 1994 to
396 in 1999. That's about 79 ER visits a year spread across 40
cities or about 2 ER visits per year for each city.
After reviewing the facts, it is obvious
that ketamine is a dangerous drug and that people should be educated and
warned of its dangers. Medical treatment should be readily available
to people who overdose or experience medical complications.
Substance abuse treatment should be available on demand for people who
become abusers or get addicted.
The current approach of the DEA is to use
emotionally manipulative scare tactics that distort the facts. The
causes the credibility of the DEA and other drug abuse experts to drop in
the eyes of potential drug abusers who can see through the deception and
misinformation. It's a national tragedy that credible news agencies
the Associated Press will publish such misinformation.
Current DEA practices deter people from
providing assistance to drug users who overdose because providing
assistance can result in an arrest as an accomplice in a drug
felony. Ketamine abusers, if they do turn themselves in, are more
likely to get imprisoned with no drug treatment than to receive any form
of meaningful help.
Ketamine abuse is a public health problem
that needs community based prevention, early intervention, and
treatment. It is not a criminal problem requiring heavy handed drug
enforcement and incarceration of abusers.
On the Net: DEA: http://www.dea.gov/
Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical