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Ketamine Update 7-13-01

An News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski
GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
Published On: July 13, 2001          Updated On: January 26, 2002
İ Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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Ketamine Update - 7-13-01
A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski

On July 13, 2001 in an article entitled "Veterinarians 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 clinics.  

This article is

Here are the facts presented in the article:

1.    DEA has Concerns About Ketamine:  The DEA believes that there is a serious problem with addicts burglarizing

2.    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.  

3.    Route of Administration:  Ketamine hydrochloride can be smoked, inhaled like cocaine or added to drinks for a hallucinogenic high. 

4.    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.

5.    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.

6.    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 use.  

7.    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:

Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association:


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