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Ketamine (AKA Ket, K, Special K, horse tranquilliser)
is a drug which alters how reality seems to you (your ‘perception’). Ketamine is considered to be a drug because when taken into the body it changes the way you think, feel or behave. A drug is any substance which does this.
Ketamine is a complicated drug. It was designed to be used in medicine, and is a ‘dissociative anaesthetic’. It does two things – it numbs pain and it causes the mind to feel separate from the body.
Drugs that numb pain are called ‘analgesics’. If taken for a buzz, when there is no pain to numb, they make the user feel relaxed, calm and ‘floaty’. Drugs that make reality look, feel or seem different are called ‘hallucinogens.’ Mild doses of hallucinogens alter what’s actually there a little bit: like making things seem funny, or colours seem brighter, or sounds seem echoey, etc. Big doses can create full-on hallucinations, where what’s actually there seems to change completely into something else, or where what the user can see is a complete invention of his imagination: it looks real, but it’s a fantasy.
Ketamine is not as straightforward as that. ‘Dissociative’ means ‘making separation seem to happen’. Ketamine does this by blocking all the usual messages – from the eyes and the ears – from getting to the brain. It cuts the brain off from everything that’s real. So the brain compensates for this by creating a ‘new reality’. It uses its store of your memories, thoughts and dreams to create a fantasy world to stand in for the real world that it has been cut off from. So whereas with other hallucinatory drugs, no matter how strong they are, the hallucinations happen in the real world, with real things happening alongside them; with ketamine, the hallucination, to the user, IS the real world. Nothing of the real world that the user is in at the time makes it into the hallucination. The brain is completely cut off from that world, so it can’t use any part of it in its new creation.
Ketamine is used in human medicine by paramedics, doctors, surgeons, etc., and it is also used by vets on animals. The ‘dissociative’ effect – where the patient feels separated from their body – is very useful if the patient has been in an accident and suffered serious injury but is not unconscious. Ketamine helps the patient to cope with what has happened to them, by numbing the pain in the injured part of the body, and by making the patient feel separated from everything that is going on around them, including their injured body. Instead of putting the patient to sleep, it makes the patient feel as though everything happening to them and around them is actually not happening to them, at all.
Ketamine is very fast-acting, and the effects you feel change dramatically with just very small (less than half a gram) increases in dose.
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