Not your Kid??? Really?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) classifies ketamine as a “dissociative drug,” which causes users to feel detached from their own bodies. According to NIDA, ketamine can be injected, snorted, or smoked, and it can cause confusion among users.
Though ketamine may be used medically as a sedative or anesthetic, it is certainly far from innocuous, and its use is a growing problem among youth. According to the authors of a 2010 report published in the journal Addiction, as ecstasy has become harder to find, drug users have replaced it with ketamine. Its use is therefore growing among adolescents, and the Monitoring
the Future (MTF) Survey in the United States found that approximately one percent of adolescents had used ketamine in 2007. Vicky Unwin, who lost her 21-year-old daughter to ketamine, has asserted that it is the drug of choice among partiers, because it is inexpensive compared to alcohol.
As research regarding the deleterious effects of ketamine emerges, it becomes apparent that ketamine use can be devastating for youth. Read on to learn about the dangers.
Psychological and Cognitive Effects of Ketamine
Ketamine can have a negative impact on both psychological wellbeing and cognitive functioning. A 2009 study published in Addiction found that those who used ketamine frequently suffered from weakened memory and lower psychological wellbeing; ketamine users were more likely to display symptoms of depression, as well as dissociative symptoms. Both recreational and frequent ketamine users displayed signs of delusional thinking. The authors of a 2011 study published in the journal Emerging Health Threats indicated that the delusional thoughts associated with ketamine use are typically not pleasant, and users of the drug may become paranoid and aggressive.
A 2004 study published the journal Neurospsychopharmacology found that ketamine users struggled to learn new tasks, an effect which can be especially devastating among adolescents. According to the authors of a 2007 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the psychological effects of ketamine are so disastrous that use of the drug produces psychotic symptoms commonly seen among schizophrenics.
Dangerous Effects of Ketamine Use
According to the authors of the 2011 report in Emerging Health Threats, ketamine is dangerous because it renders users delirious, and, in serious cases, it can result in unconsciousness. The authors indicated that ketamine users may also be unable to move or speak, and they tend to suffer from poor coordination. These effects put ketamine users at an increased risk of physical harm, and deadly effects, such as drowning and car accidents, are more likely. As Unwin explained, her daughter lost her life because she drowned in the bath tub after using ketamine. Ketamine users tend to believe that they are invulnerable, and they may take serious risks, including jumping off of a building, while under the influence of the drug.
Ketamine can also place users at a heightened risk for heart attack, as it causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, according to the report published in Emerging Health Threats. According to NIDA, ketamine use can also result in respiratory arrest and therefore death. In addition, ketamine may be especially dangerous for adolescent brains. A 2009 study published in the journal Toxicological Sciences indicated that ketamine causes cell death in developing rat brains. The human brain undergoes developmental changes during adolescence, so ketamine may have a negative impact on brain functioning.
With evidence suggesting that ketamine may result in cell death, heart attack, serious injury, and psychological consequences, it becomes apparent that use of the drug is a public concern and that steps must be taken to prevent its use among adolescents. Youth must be warned about the dangers of the drug. Because it has medical uses, teens may perceive ketamine to be safer than other commonly-abused drugs. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and teens must be reminded that a night of fun is not worth risking their lives.