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drug information

Ketamine

  1. What it is

    Ketamine is a hallucinogenic drug originally used as a medical and veterinary anaesthetic. It can alter sensory perceptions, often resulting in an ‘out of body’ experience, sometimes referred to as going into a ‘K-hole’. These effects have led to its recreational use as a party drug, and it has also been implicated as a date-rape drug.

  2. Health effects

    Short-term effects

    The desired effect for some users is to experience a ‘K-hole’. Others react badly to ketamine, resulting in a ‘bad trip’.

  3. Dependence, addiction and overdose risk

    Dependence and addiction

    Ketamine can be habit forming for some people who use it regularly. This is called psychological dependence, and means that some users will crave ketamine, feeling they need it to function effectively and feel comfortable in certain situations, for example when attending a dance party.

  4. Law and penalities

    From 1 December 2010 ketamine was scheduled as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The maximum penalty for possession of a Class C substance is three months jail and/or a $500 fine. The maximum penalty for importing, manufacturing and/or supplying a Class C substance is eight years imprisonment.

  5. Drug trends

    Recreational use of ketamine is relatively low in New Zealand. The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs recognises it has a "small but definite" market.

  6. Reducing the harm

    The Drug Foundation’s message is clear: no drug use is the safest drug use. However, we know there will be occasions when people ignore warnings and use drugs in a dangerous manner. To help keep communities safe we therefore provide information about proven methods of drug harm reduction.

  7. How to get help

    If you feel you or anyone you know needs help, there are a number of treatment organisations you can contact in strict confidence.

  8. Links

    A list of relevant links to further information and resources about ketamine: