Abuse of Ketamine and Ecstasy
Ketamine is a drug which contains mind-altering properties and ketamine is soaring in Britain, a new report has found. The tranquillizer, which is legally available, has gone from being a rarity confined to gay clubs in London to a widely used drug of choice, more popular than ecstasy in some areas.Experts say it is increasingly being taken as a recreational drug by middle-class professionals at weekends, instead of just hardened drug addicts. But campaigners have warned that the drug can have serious side- effects and has been linked to psychotic episodes and schizophrenia. For the first time, ketamine has featured in an annual survey by the charity DrugScope of the most widely available drugs in the UK. Last year, the market was so small that the drug did not appear in DrugScope's report. This year, it was recorded as being easily available in eight of the 15 cities surveyed in the report, including Gloucester, Portsmouth, Nottingham and Belfast. Ketamine is widely used as an anaesthetic in humans and animals, but its hallucinogenic and 'out of body' side-effects have also made it popular among clubbers. Users say it has psychedelic qualities that can make it psychologically rather than physically addictive. The DrugScope survey found that it can be bought for as little as pounds 15 a gram, putting it on a par with the cost of ecstasy. Dealers import the drug from Indian pharmacies and sell it freely on the streets. The Government has become so concerned about the rising recreational use of ketamine that earlier this year it announced proposals to make it a Class C drug like anabolic steroids. Harry Shapiro, editor of DrugLink magazine in which the survey appears, said: 'The emergence of ketamine as a key substance of choice is an entirely new phenomenon since we last carried out the survey in 2004, when it didn't figure at all.'