Ketamine is a close relative of PCP, producing very similar effects. It is a legal prescription drug intended for use as an anesthetic. Ketamine comes in small bottles as a solution to be injected into patients, either intravenously or intramuscularly.
Like PCP, ketamine produces an unusual kind of anesthesia, called a dissociative state, in which the patient's awareness becomes detached from the body and from external reality. Like PCP, ketamine has produced a number of bad reactions, since many patients become frightened when they find themselves in this unusual condition. So far, however, there has been no move to take ketamine off the market.
In recent years, a number of people have experimented with ketamine as a recreational drug, but they have been very different from PCP users, with the result that ketamine has a very different reputation and following from its notorious relative.
In the first place, all ketamine is legally manufactured. Since it is not a controlled substance, it is not closely watched, and supplies of it are easily diverted from hospitals and pharmacies into the hands of recreational users. Many of its fans are doctors who have introduced their friends, including nurses and other professionals, to the drug. Ketamine users tend to be better educated, older, wealthier, and much more experienced with drugs than most PCP users. They are able to take exact doses of pure material.
Because ketamine comes in an injectable form and because many of its users are medical personnel, it tends to be taken by injection, usually intramuscularly. Given in this way it produces an altered state of consciousness that begins in a few minutes and lasts about half an hour. The feeling is one of dreamy, floating disconnection from external reality. Some ketamine enthusiasts like to take it while lying in sensory isolation tanks in attempts to have out-of-the-body experiences.
The fact that ketamine remained an uncontrolled substance while PCP came to be seen as the chief devil drug of the 1980s is a good illustration of how images of drugs are shaped by their users. |ust as marijuana has never shaken off its association with deviants, minorities, and rebels, so PCP is now linked with an angry, violent, young segment of the population that is prone to commit crimes. PCP does not cause crime, violence, or insanity any more than marijuana causes revolutions. The pharmacology of ketamine is practically the same as that of PCP, yet ketamine users (usually successful professionals) lie peacefully in dissociative states, causing no one any harm, and raising few alarms in society.
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Unfortunately, many ketamine users do not realize that they can take the drug by safer routes than injection. Ketamine liquid can be evaporated to solid crystals that can be powdered and smoked, snorted, or swallowed, just like PCP. By the oral route, ketamine lasts longer, and the peak effect is less dramatic. By any route, high doses of ketamine can be as unpleasant as high doses of PCP.
1. Try to avoid taking PCP unintentionally. All street psyche-delics in pill or powder form are suspect, as are funny-tasting joints that give strange rushes.
2. If you take PCP deliberately, avoid high doses.
3. As with other drugs, the oral route is safer. Smoking PCP gives a rapid, dramatic effect. Some users prefer to smoke because they know right away how high they are. If you take PCP by mouth, it is even more important to know the dose so that you don't get more intoxicated than you intend.
4. Do not take PCP with depressants or stimulants. The combined effects can be unpleasant and difficult to control.
5. Because PCP affects coordination, thought, and judgment, do not do things under its influence that require those functions to be normal.
6. Because PCP can produce agitation, confusion, and difficulties in communication, it is not wise to take it in settings or with people that might add to those problems.
7. If you take PCP regularly and find you have trouble thinking clearly or remembering, cut down or stop taking it altogether.
8. If you meet people who want you to try ketamine, remember that it is essentially the same as PCP.
9. Remember also that ketamine can be taken by mouth and does not have to be injected.
Accurate information on solvent sniffing will be found in Licit and Illicit Drugs by Edward M. Brecher and the editors of Consumer Reports (Boston: Little, Brown, 1972). A sophisticated book that focuses on solvent use in Scotland is Solvent Abuse: The Adolescent Epidemic by Joyce Watson (London and Wolfeboro, New Hampshire: Croom Helm, 1986).
There are a number of good books on plants of the nightshade family and the strange effects they produce. Charles B. Heiser's
Nightshades: The Paradoxical Plants (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1969) discusses the edible nightshades and tobacco as well as the deliriant members of the family. Harold A. Hansen's The Witch's Garden (Santa Cruz, California: Unity Press, 1978) concentrates on belladonna, henbane, mandrake, and datura.
Jonathan Ott includes Amanita muscaria and Amanita pan-therina in his Hallucinogenic Plants of North America (Berkeley, California: Wingbow Press, 1976; revised edition, 1979). Descriptions of uses of Amanita muscaria will be found in Narcotic Plants of the Old World, Used in Rituals and Everyday Life: An Anthology of Texts from Ancient Times to the Present, edited by Hedwig Schleiffcr (Monticello, New York: Lubrecht & Cramer, 1979). In Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972), R. Gordon Wasson presents his theory that Amanita muscaria was used as a sacramental intoxicant in ancient India.
Graphic descriptions of the effects of ketamine occur throughout John C. Lilly's autobiographical work The Scientist: A Novel Autobiography (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1978).
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