Ketamine – K, Special K, ket, kit-kat, horse tranquiliser, vitamin K

Know your mind, know your body, know your substance, and know your limits

Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic, commonly used in infants, persons of poor health or advanced age, and veterinary anaesthesia. Ketamine’s original form is liquid, but it is commonly sold as a white crystalline powder. Ketamine’s dissociative effects provide a psychedelic experience unlike many other psychedelic drugs. People who use ketamine, particularly in higher doses, may experience feelings of disconnection from their surroundings, their body, and reality itself. This experience is often known as a K-hole.

In recent years, studies have taken place using very small doses of ketamine medically administered via intramuscular injection to treat severe depression with good results. A more recent trial into intranasal ketamine was aborted.

Chemical Compound

Ketamine hydrochloride.

There have been instances of methoxetamine (MXE) being sold as ketamine in Australia. MXE is much more potent and lasts much longer than ketamine. Always test your drugs before you consume them.


Most commonly snorted but can be swallowed, injected, or plugged/shafted (rectal administration using a syringe without a needle).

Dose and safer using tips

Taking drugs is never without risk. Mentioned doses are based on the information available to DanceWize NSW and we cannot give any guarantee of safety as the effects can vary greatly from one person to another.

·             Depending on how it is taken, desired effects, weight of the person using, tolerance, and a number of other idiosyncratic factors, a standard recreational dose can vary from 15 to 300mg.

·             Start with a small amount to test strength.

·             Give the drug plenty of time to work. When snorted, ketamine usually takes about 15-20 minutes to fully come on, so it’s best to wait at least that long before redosing.

·             Due to the potency and effects of ketamine, it is commonly used in small doses (bumps), rather than a single larger amount, such as a line.

·             Due to the purity issues highlighted above, DanceWize NSW strongly encourages the use of reagent test kits. While these tests can provide an indication of the contents of a substance, it represents an estimation only, and does not indicate dosage.  These kits are legal to purchase and available online from

·             If injecting, intramuscular is safer than intravenous because of the quick onset of the drug.

Tips and tricks

·             Try to use in a safe environment with people that you trust.

·             It is best to avoid food 90 minutes prior to using ketamine, as it can cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach contraction (shrinking).

·             It’s a good idea to have a sober friend or experienced user present for guidance and support.

·             Ketamine has a significant effect on balance and coordination. It’s best to remain seated or lying down, particularly when using larger doses.

·             Be cautious when redosing as the drug remains in your system even after the apparent effects have worn off. Redosing too soon or too much can cause a stacking effect, causing a stronger than expected reaction to the drug.

·             Ketamine (and MXE) can increase the chance of developing serious urinary tract health issues. If you are sensitive to urinary tract infections or other issues, moderation with ketamine use is strongly advised. Chances of developing urinary tract issues are linked to frequency and dose.


·             Though ketamine is showing great promise in clinical studies as a treatment for severe depression, it is not advisable to attempt treating depression with ketamine without medical supervision and administration.


·             Snort water before and after to avoid damaging the protective lining in your nose

·             Use your own clean straw for snorting to reduce the risk of transmission of blood borne viruses (such as hepatitis C). Do not use money or share straws.


·             If injecting, care needs to be taken to avoid infections, hepatitis C and HIV. Come speak to the DanceWize NSW team. Tips for safer injecting are:

·             Use sterile water to mix up the powder or the safest alternative. Remember bacteria in the water can make you sick.

·             Make sure all equipment is new and sterile, and that you are not sharing anything with someone else - speak to DanceWize NSW or another NSP to get sterile injecting equipment and associated paraphernalia.

·             Intravenous use of ketamine presents a greater risk than intramuscular, as it comes on so much quicker – dropping into a K-hole with a needle still in your vein can be dangerous and cause vein damage. It’s best to have a friend present to keep an eye on you.

·             Always dispose of injecting equipment safely – DanceWize NSW has sharps bins and can dispose of equipment for you.


·             Use sterile water to mix up the powder.

·             Make sure all equipment is new and sterile, and that you are not sharing anything with someone else - speak to DanceWize NSW or another NSP to get sterile injecting equipment.

·             Find a discreet and safe place to do it.

·             Wash your hands thoroughly before and after.

·             Use lube to avoid tearing skin.


Depending on dose and tolerance, ketamine can produce mild, trance-like effects, or stronger hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. Effects vary from one person to another. Below is a list of possible effects.


·             Pleasant body high

·             Increased energy

·             Numbness

·             Loss of coordination and motor skills

·             Increased heart rate

·             Reduced heart rate and breathing, particularly when combined with other central nervous system depressants (see combinations)

·             Slurred speech

·             Nausea and vomiting

·             Loss of consciousness

·             Increased

·             Lower urinary tract symptoms can include increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain during urination, passing blood in urine, urinary tract infection

·             Headache

·             Seizure

·             Heart palpitations

Less common

·             Euphoria

·             Meaningful spiritual experiences

·             Enhanced sense of connectedness with the world and people in it

·             Increased feeling of disconnectedness from the world and people in it

·             A peculiar feeling of loneliness

·             Anxiety or panic – caused by confusion or dissociation


·             Sense of calm and serenity

·             Pleasant mental high

·             Abstract and disjointed thinking

·             Distortion or loss of time and sensory perception – can be frightening or confusing

·             Visual hallucinations

·             Dissociation of mind and body

·             Confusion and disorientation – can be mild or severe

·             Amnesia

·             Out-of-body experience

·             Shifted perception of reality

·             Paranoia

·             Megalomania – feeling like the centre of the universe

·             Nightmares

·             Delirium

Possible long-term effects

These effects are possible with extended use

·             Risk of psychological dependency

·             Cognitive impairments including memory problems

·             Severe degeneration of the bladder and urinary tract including ketamine bladder syndrome.


Total duration: 1-2 hours

Onset: 5-15 minutes

Peak: 20-60 minutes

Coming down: 30-60 minutes

After effects: 1-3 hours

Even though the apparent effects of the drug wear off after 2 hours, the drug is still active in your system for 3 hours after you have taken it. It is important to take this into consideration if choosing to use other substances.

Roadside drug test

It is illegal to drive under the influence of any illicit drug, including  ketamine. Ketamine is not detectable in a saliva test; however white powder can be cut with other substances that may show up in a test. The effects of ketamine make it difficult to drive safely. It’s best not to drive for at least 3 hours after your last dose as you may still be impaired. Make sure you take this into consideration when planning your ride home from a festival or event.


Ketamine combined with…

·             Alcohol – nausea and vomiting at low doses. Higher doses can cause much more serious effects (see depressants)

·             Depressants (GHB, alcohol, and benzos e.g. Valium) = loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing and respiratory failure which can lead to death

·             MAOIs = can unpredictably increase the potency of ketamine

·             Psychedelics = can unpredictably intensify the psychedelic experience

Take a look at the TripSit drug combinations chart online (, or in the DanceWize NSW chill space for info on other combinations.

Ketamine use is not recommended if you suffer (or have suffered from) from

·             Increased spinal fluid pressure

·             Increased pressure in the eye

·             Head trauma or injury bleeding in the brain

·             Eye injury

·             Heart problems

·             Severe or uncontrolled high blood pressure

·             Thyroid problems

·             Recent stroke

This is not a complete list. Speak to your doctor or DanceWize NSW for info about how ketamine might interact with other health conditions.

More info

This resource is designed to support you in making decisions about safer use of ketamine, but it is not a complete guide. It’s recommended that you do further research relevant to you. The following websites may provide you with some helpful information:

This resource has been developed by DanceWize NSW, a program of the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA). It was adapted from resources from DanceWize, a program of Harm Reduction Victoria, and DanceSafe.

Just say know.



DanceWize NSW