History

Ketamine was first manufactured in 1965 at the University of Michigan and marketed under the name of Ketalar. It is most commonly available in 10-ml (100 mg/ml) liquid-containing vials (Fort Dodge Laboratories, 1997). It is a close chemical cousin of phencyclidine, also known as PCP or angel dust. PCP has physiological properties that made it advantageous as an anesthetic. PCP does not cause the kind of cardiac arrhythmias and respiratory depression inherent in classical anesthetics. PCP also had a number of severe limitations as an anesthetic, most significantly, that it causes a high degree of psychotic and violent reactions (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1979). These effects occur at an alarmingly high rate (50%) and may persist for as long as 10 days (Crider, 1986; Meyer, Greifenstein, & DeVault, 1959). Ketamine produces minimal cardiac and respiratory effects, and its anesthetic and behavioral effects remit soon after administration (Moretti, Hassan, Goodman, & Meltzer, 1984; Pandit, Kothary, & Kumar, 1980). The medication continues to have therapeutic usefulness, principally with children and animals.

Since the 1970s, ketamine has been a drug used for "recreational" purposes. Although the distinction is by no means complete, ketamine users cluster into two distinct subtypes. The first type uses ketamine in a solitary fashion; the second type uses the drug in a social setting, although the effects of the drug do not promote sociability. These are the young clubgoers and "ravers" (Weir, 2000). Ketamine is especially popular at circuit parties and thus a favorite of gay urbanites (Lee & McDowell, 2003).

Ketamine is commercially available as a liquid. About 90% of ketamine comes from diverted veterinary sources (National Institute on Drug Abuse,

2002). The liquid form is easily evaporated into a powder, the form in which it is most often sold. Ketamine can be administered in a variety of ways. At clubs, most people snort lines of the powder. Ketamine may also be dabbed on the tongue or mixed with a liquid and imbibed.

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