Structural Biochemistry/Ketamine


Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic developed in 1963 to replace PCP and presently used in human anesthesia and veterinary medicine. Most of the ketamine that is sold on the street has been abstracted from veterinarians’ offices. Ketamine’s chemical structure and mechanism of action are similar to those of PCP. Although it is manufactured as an injectable liquid, in illicit use ketamine is generally evaporated to form a powder. The ways it’s used is either snorted or swallowed. Ketamine is odorless and tasteless, so it can be mixed with beverages without being noticed, and it induces amnesia. Because of these properties, the drug is sometimes given to unsuspecting victims and used in the commission of sexual assaults referred to as “drug rape.”

The short term effect of Ketamine is that it can trigger dream-like states and hallucinations. Users report sensations ranging from a pleasant feeling of floating to being separated from their bodies. Some ketamine experiences involve a terrifying feeling of almost complete sensory detachment that is likened to a near-death experience. These experiences, similar to a “bad trip” on LSD, are called the “K-hole.” Low-dose intoxication from ketamine results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory . In higher doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.


Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic. It is designed as a slightly acidic (3.5-5.5 pH) solution that is administered through injection. Its chemical name is (±)-2-(o-Chlorophenyl)-2-(methylamino) cyclohexanone hydrochloride. Ketamine goes by various names on the street. It has been known to be called K, Special K, Cat valium, or vitamin K. Ketamine is abused in both the liquid and solid form. The liquid form is usually injected intravenously and is the most dangerous way to consume. The solid form is used to be smoked, snorted or swallowed as a pill. Also, it is known to be added to drinks. Ketamine is legally used as an anesthetic for animals and humans, but it is commonly abused for pleasure. [1]


Ketamine has many powerful effects, which have made it a popular privately used drug. Some of its psychological effects include out of body experiences, hallucinations, numbness, euphoria, and nausea. All of these effects vary with dosage and tolerance. Ketamine effects can last up to 24 hours, but the hallucinations only about 45 to 90 minutes. Ketamine use is associated with severe mental and physical detriments. These effects can include: delerium, depression, high blood pressure and loss of motor functions. Ketamine has also been known to be used as a rape drug by incapacitating the user. It is sometimes spiked into other drugs or given to those ignorant of the drugs strength. [2]


Ketamine is a non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist. The blocking of this receptor is believed to cause the pain relief one experiences while on Ketamine.


  1. Ketamine, October 28 2012
  2. ketamine, October 28, 2012.