What Is Ketamine?

Updated on December 1, 2022

Ketamine has been used in the medical field, on the battlefield, and recently, in the mental health field for decades. You may know the name. But, what is Ketamine? To some users, it is a miracle drug that allows them to live a normal life. Ketamine is a drug that was discovered in the late 1950s. Ketamine was created by Parke – Davis, and Company. The purpose of Ketamine was to sedate people who were having certain medical procedures and surgeries. Ketamine is an anesthetic and analgesic (pain reliever) which is used globally on people and animals. 


During the Vietnam war, Ketamine was used on the battlefield. The anesthetic effect and pain relief lasted long enough to take care of the most serious injuries. There were side effects and in the rage of war, they were usually welcome. Ketamine induces a trance-like state. Users have described it as total relaxation. What is Ketamine? It is the gift of calmness and painlessness when you are in an impossible situation. Ketamine can change your senses. Users may experience a change in sight and sound. They may feel as if they cannot connect with their own body. They have difficulty speaking or moving and hallucinations are common.  

Modern surgery

Ketamine has been used in operating rooms for over 50 years. It is often used for children and senior citizens. Giving the patient Ketamine during the surgery keeps pain levels down and extends the sedation period. It is often chosen as an alternative to addictive opioids. However, some side-effects that make the use of Ketamine questionable. It is accepted that Ketamine can cause delirium. Most senior citizens welcome a drug that works fast and allows for a quick recovery for minor surgeries. However, some Senior citizens exhibit delirium when they are waking from the surgery. This is of grave concern to them. At the very least, it will lengthen the time they will remain in the hospital. Memory loss is also common. 

Senior citizens of today are active and healthy. They are able to make their own discussions. When all the side effects of each of their options are explained, they often opt for Ketamine. Take a look at Senior Outlook Today. You will find senior citizens are anything but fragile. Just give them the options.

Party People

The effects of this drug made it highly sought after in the clubs during the 1960s. Some people referred to the drug as the “date-rape” drug, due to the user being unable to resist or sometimes even to speak. On the street, Ketamine is called “Special K.” People who think it is okay to play with this drug need to understand a few things. What is Ketamine? Partiers need to understand they are snorting, eating, and shooting a drug that is used to knock them out. It can safely knock out a mouse or it can bring down a gorilla. It is not a drug to mix with alcohol and snort up their nose. 

First, you may hear it is nonaddictive and that it doesn’t kill you. Most people who are taking recreational drugs are drinking alcohol with them. This puts you into a deeply sedated state. There have been users who went home to take a bath, and fell asleep and drowned because they were too sedated. People have been robbed and assaulted because walking to your car is advertising that you are out of your mind. There are any number of ways you can get hurt or die from Special K, so don’t try it. 


Ketamine is used in operating rooms to start sedation and to maintain sedation of a patient undergoing surgery. There are many great uses for this drug as long as it is in the hands of a professional to administer and oversee the use. Right now, The National Institute of Health does not recommend Ketamine as the best choice for surgery sedation. 

Animal medicine

Veterinarians list Ketamine as their primary choice for working with animals of all kinds. One reason is that it works on everything from a house cat to an elephant. Having this drug on hand allows the vet to sedate an animal and help them. There are many great uses for this drug as long as it is in the hands of a professional to administer and oversee the use.

Surprising breakthrough

Depression disorders and anxiety disorders are a global problem. While we have treatment options, they do not always work and when they do, they often affect your moods and quality of life. Globally 4.4% of the population suffers from a depression disorder and 3.6% of the population suffers from anxiety disorders. This equals millions of people who are offered SSRI to control their symptoms.

The FDA approved Ketamine for anesthetic uses. But, some mental health experts are using it off-label for treating mental illness. This includes mood disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD (to name a few), and the results are impressive.

Ketamine is given to patients with mental disorders via infusions. There is no hard map to follow so doctors are recording the effects on a patient by patient basis. Here are the comparisons from one study.

When a patient begins drug therapy for mood and anxiety disorders, they are usually given an SSRI which adjusts the amount of serotonin the brain produces. The patient may begin feeling better in 2 weeks. Patients have no effects until 24 hours after their infusion of SSRIs and it takes 6 – 12 weeks for new synaptic connections to begin growing. This is the first physical part of treatment. Ketamine treatment is measurable 1 hour after infusion. The infusion begins right away and continues to work for 14 weeks. In rare cases, a second infusion may be needed. This is almost immediate anxiety control and mood elevation. It is proven effective for teenagers. The fast-acting medication is being used to help teens who self-harm and commit suicide. 

Ketamine is a perfect example of a medication that was created for one illness but emerged to another. Ketamine has so many uses, it is a safe bet that this medication will be healing people for years to come. It will be exciting to learn what else this drug can do.

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