Ketamine (K)

Ketamine Chemical make up

Ketamine, also known as Ket, K or Special K is a powerful anaesthetic which can stop you feeling pain. It comes in a powder or liquid form.
If snorted it can take between 5-15 minutes to kick-in and if swallowed it can take between 15-25 minutes. The effects can last between 45 minutes and 2 hours but this will depend on how much you take and how you take it.

Ketamine can make you feel detached from reality, as though you are separated from your body and mind. You may experience hallucinations and it can make you lose the ability to move. This is known as a k-hole. Some people find this experience fun, others find it can be scary.
Due to the dreamlike state it puts users in ketamine has been used as a “date rape” drug. It can cause hallucinations and a “trip” can last from half an hour to several hours.


If you’re under the influence of K you could be vulnerable to others who may take advantage of you sexually.

You might feel confused, agitated or experience panic attacks which could make you vulnerable in an unfamiliar environment.

Short term effects include:

  • Short term memory loss.
  • Paranoia, especially with frequent use.
  • Paralysis.
  • Experiencing scary hallucinations.
  • Stomach Cramps

Ketamine can also cause serious bladder problems in regular users. They can have trouble passing urine and when they do it can be painful. In some cases, the damage to the bladder is so bad it has to be removed by surgery. The urinary tract from the kidneys down to the bladder can also be affected badly.

Ketamine Harm Reduction

  • You can’t be sure of the contents or dose: the potency may vary even from the same batch/supplier. The new psychoactive substance Fluorodeschloroketamine has been recently found in powders in Ireland.
  • Each person will react differently to drugs.
  • Think about the type of drug: in this case, it can cause dissociation and psychedelic experiences, but remember that you can’t be fully sure of the contents or dose. Try to measure how much you will use in advance to avoid taking too much.
  • Think about your ‘set’: how you’re feeling both mentally and physically. Avoid use if you feel low, anxious, depressed or if you have mental health concerns. Using drugs through hard times to cope can impact on your long term coping mechanisms.
  • Think about your setting: this means where you are, if it is busy/loud and who you are with. If you are in a new or unfamiliar environment you may have a different reaction.
  • Avoid use in risky settings: ketamine can affect your balance and coordination — only take it in a safe space avoiding dangers such as water (including rivers and lakes) roadways etc.
  • Eat at least two hours before taking
  • COVID concerns: remember to clean down any surfaces, wash your hands and consider the risk of COVID-19.
  • Avoid using off unclean surfaces: such as toilet seats, public counter tops etc.
  • Start with a very small amount first to see how you react: You should feel the effects within a few minutes but this can vary. Use this time to judge if you want to continue using.
  • Only take the amount you want to use at that time with you. This helps you taking more than expected.
  • Avoid using with other substances including with alcohol and prescription medication. Drugs affect people differently and mixing different drugs can lead to unpredictable harmful and unpleasant effects.
  • Ketamine and alcohol used together can increase the risk of vomiting/being unwell. It can also impact on balance and slow down your breathing.
  • Ketamine used with stimulants can increase internal strain on your heart. Cocaine can dull the effects of ketamine which could cause you take more of each drug to get the desired effect. This won’t improve your experience but will increase the risk to your health.
  • Mixing ketamine with other drugs that produce a psychedelic effect: this includes using with MDMA, nitrous oxide, cannabis, mushrooms and LSD and can lead to an increased experience in a way that may feel overwhelming and hard for you to manage.
  • If you are having negative mental health or feel unwell: Let someone know that is with you.
  • Place anyone unwell in the recovery position or on their side. This is to prevent choking if they vomit.
  • Don’t get in bath to reduce stomach cramps: you risk falling asleep
  • Reduce the amount you use and how often. Frequent use can lead to developing a tolerance. Emerging evidence also suggests that heavy and frequent use can lead to urinary and bladder damage. Take breaks between use.
  • If placing in a drink: make sure that no one else is at risk of consuming.
  • If snorting: grind powders and don’t use bank notes to snort. Use rolled up card or a small straw.
  • Avoid sharing snorters: sharing tools can spread infections and blood borne viruses (e.g. hepatitis C, HIV). Get tested regularly for BBVs.
  • Look out for the signs of urinary/bladder concerns: This includes pain, difficulty urinating, frequently urinating and blood in urine. Don’t be afraid to discuss these symptoms with a health professional and let them know if you feel they are as a result of ketamine use.

Look out for the signs of an overdose and don’t be afraid to get medical help by calling 999/112: confusion, unconsciousness (won’t wake up), severe nausea and vomiting, fitting, difficulty breathing, snoring/raspy breathing, blue/pale tingeing of knees, hands and lips, slow or erratic pulse (heartbeat), pale, cold and clammy skin.

Support and Services

If you are worried about your relationship with ketamine, it is important to reach out. There are a number of non-judgemental friendly services who can help.

The Switchboard Ireland
Outhouse, 105 Capel St, Dublin 1.
The Switchboard Ireland is Ireland’s longest running support service for the LGBT+ community. LGBT+ volunteers are available 7 days a week on phone, email and online chat to offer confidential listening, support and information. Thursdays: Substance Abuse, Chems, Narcotics, Alcohol 6:30pm – 9pm.

Phone 01 872 1055
Contact: WhatsApp @ 089 26 74 777
Email: for support & signpost by email for other questions

The MPOWER team of peer sexual health outreach workers offer information, support and resources relating to HIV, STIs and other sexual health & wellbeing needs. The team is available to speak to you by phone, email, WhatsApp, and Zoom.

Phone 01-8733799 and ask for the MPOWER Team (Mon-Fri 10am – 5pm)
Whatsapp on 086 065 7212 (Davy), 0866002996 (Mark), 0892291869 (Diego)

Sexual Health Centre Cork
Sexual Health Centre Cork offer the services of a dedicated Sexual Health Advisor to members of LGBTQIA+ community. Aaron O’Sullivan provides sexual health advice and support in an understanding and warm environment, on a wide range of matters such as healthy relationships, sexuality, sexual dysfunction, gender and sexual identity.

You can make an appointment by sending an email to, calling the Sexual Health Centre on 021 427 5837 or contacting Aaron directly at

Visit the National Directory of Drugs and Alcohol Services and find a local service to help you

Drugs helpline: Freefone 1800 459 459

Further information & services at

or from the drugs helpline: Freefone 1800 459 459