What Drug Class Is Ketamine? Is It A Controlled Substance?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022

Ketamine is an anesthesia drug used alone or in combination with other medications. Abusing ketamine may lead to serious health risks including addiction.

Is Ketamine A Controlled Substance?

Ketamine, also referred to as ketaset and ketalar, is a type of tranquilizer commonly used by veterinarians on animals in veterinary clinics.

This anesthetic drug is abused recreationally and is popular among young adults in raves.

Ketamine is considered a Schedule III controlled substance due to its anesthetic effects and potential for abuse and addiction.

Why Ketamine Is A Schedule III Controlled Substance

Ketamine is classified as a dissociative anesthetic, which is a class of psychedelic drug that distorts sensory perceptions, and may produce feelings of disconnection or detachment from reality.

When a person takes ketamine, they will experience sedation and vivid hallucinations similar to those produced by hallucinogens such as LSD (acid).

Over time, people may develop physical dependence on as well as psychological addiction to ketamine. Due to its addictive potential and medical use, ketamine is scheduled as a Schedule III controlled substance.

Effects Of Ketamine

When taken, ketamine will produce a number of effects both in the body and mind.

Using ketamine can lead to nausea, vomiting, rapid eye movement, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and more.

While on ketamine, people feel as if their perception of time and space are altered.

They stop feeling pain, and may go into a “k-hole” which is the frightening perception that your mind and body are permanently separated.

How People Abuse Ketamine

There are multiple ways of ingesting ketamine when using it recreationally. The most popular method is insufflating or snorting white powder ketamine in low doses.

Other methods of abuse include injecting liquid-form ketamine into a muscle or swallowing a tablet of ketamine, or “bombing” which is swallowing powder that’s wrapped in cigarette paper.

Some people may even use Ketamine rectally, a practice commonly known as ‘boofing.’

Dangers Of Misusing Ketamine

Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic that may cause serious harm, particularly if it’s mixed with other drugs such as opioids, LSD, PCP, and stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine.

Dangerous side effects of ketamine abuse may include:

  • psychosis
  • nausea
  • seizures
  • paranoia
  • chest pain
  • changes in blood pressure
  • dangerously high or low heart rate

The use of ketamine is also a popular “date rape” drug due to the severe sedation and mental disorientation caused by the substance.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022

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