A Career in Ketamine
The years between 2005 and 2011 remain rather hazy for me. The intervening years defined the peaks and troughs; spiritually, mentally and physically of my career in recreational drug use - and while no vocation, what a career it was to be.
It was in the summer of 2006 that I first tried ketamine at a friend’s house in London - I was studying at university and trying to explore the vast array of pharmacologically induced experiences available to British youth. It was just one year after ketamine was scheduled a class C drug and fresh magic mushrooms were banned. Ketamine was still relatively unknown to most young people, or as I knew it back then, the drugs scene. I was told it was becoming popular amongst ravers who were into drum and bass.
At this point, I was very much a casual weed smoker who enjoyed experimenting with mushrooms every so often. I wasn’t too keen on putting powders up my nose.
Still, if there was a time I was going to experiment with different drugs if was at that point in my life. My friend drew me a small line of fine white powder. I asked him what to expect. I knew it was called a dissociative but did not understand quite what that meant. My friend simply replied, “it’s a complicated drug”. Neither of us could have foreseen the extent to which those words would become a self fulfilling prophecy.
I rolled up a small piece of paper and took my first snort of what was probably actually a very small dose. My eyes started to water and I felt a sharp burn within the interior of my nasal cavity, an experience while unpleasant at the time I now miss.
Within a couple of minutes, I started to feel light and could easily have been floating in space. With further experimentation and increased doses, I would discover that ketamine also enabled transportation through time and alternative realities.
Back at university, I thought little of the experience. I liked the fact that there seemed to be no comedown and at least initially, it did not make me feel as hazy as weed did.
My friend came up to visit me. He said we should go to a rave, there, after some confusion we picked up some ecstasy tablets and two grams of ketamine.
When we got back to my place, we proceeded to unwind over a few lines of ketamine. The doses I took were much larger than the first time I tried it. It is hard to explain what happened over the following 6 to 8 hours. Within minutes I became overwhelmed with double vision, all logical thought processes ceased as I tried to explain what was going on, I became convinced that my new vision of the world was simply an otherality. Don’t ask me what it means, although it was crystal clear at the time.
Over the next few years my relationship with the drug and the scene around it increased, peaking around 2009. Perhaps the strangest thing about the drug for me was that as I used it more, my tolerance increased rapidly despite significant gaps between use. At the same time, my thought processes would become darker and more conspiratorial although I never went as far as some friends who started raving on and on about the illuminati.
While the ketamne worldview was unconventional and intensived the darker side to reality. The physical and psychological damage the drug would start to cause for those around me was unprecedented.
In May 2008, doctors from the Bristol Urological Institute (BUI) became concerned when they start receiving an increase in mostly young patients with irreversible bladder damage. At the same time, the k-scene was awash with reports of heavy users reporting problems urinating. It turns out that heavy and prolonged use reduces the elasticity of the bladder. Some people have even had their bladders removed.
Many users I knew would continue to use the drug despite it causing severe pain and increasing the frequency of their toilet visits. After a while, some people would eventually relent and either reduce or stop their use.
Others took more drastic steps as the subjective psychological effects were reducing with increasingly ‘fatter’ lines and were often having to snort up to a gram of ketamine in one go to get started. They decide to start intramuscular injections.
At one stage, I even considered ‘ending’ my ketamine career with one final intramuscular hit that would supposedly be far more powerful than the 0.25 gram lines I was shovelling up my nose.
The speed at which daily intramuscular use became daily intravenous use amongst some of my friends guaranteed I would not pick up a needle. In hindsight, even then I was taking pretty extreme measure just to keep getting high.
Research into the long term effects of ketamine use is still in it’s early days. All over the UK and on rave scenes around the world, there are enough guinea pigs pushing the boundaries of the recreational potential of this drug. I am not so sure either research group will bring good news.