10/12/2013 08:23 GMT | Updated 09/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Ketamine Side Effects, How They Compare To Alcohol

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A person holding up a bottle of Ketamine, Horse tranquilliser, UK 2006. (Photo by: PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images)

The Government has announced plans to upgrade Ketamine from a Class C drug to Class B, with calls for users of the drug to face tougher legal penalties.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is set to make the recommendation after new evidence revealed the damage ketamine, which is best known by the street names K, Special K and Vitamin K, can have on the bladder.


But as many have highlighted alcohol has damaging effects on the body too, with little regulation.

Last month a study even claimed alcohol is a more dangerous drug than heroin or crack cocaine.

Here we compare the effects of ketamin with alcohol:


  • Reduce sensations in the body, giving users a floating feeling as if the mind and body have been separated.
  • Make some people physically incapable of moving while under the influence. Other users may feel completely detached from their body and surroundings. This has been likened to having a near-death experience and is sometimes called “entering the k-hole”.
  • Like LSD, cause changes to how people see and hear things, and hallucinations. Users can ‘trip’ for up to an hour, and after-effects may be felt for some hours.
  • Cause confusion, panic attacks, and depression, plus when taken in large doses it can make existing mental health problems even worse.
  • It has only recently been discovered that ketamine can cause very serious bladder problems with severe pain and difficulty passing urine, and can even result in surgical removal of the bladder. Frequent use can also cause abdominal pains known as ‘K-cramps’.
  • When taken regularly or in large doses it can make existing mental health problems worse and cause confusion, panic attacks and depression.


  • Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your body's responses in all kinds of ways. Just enough can make you feel sociable; too much and you’ll have a hangover the next day, and may not even remember what you got up to; and way too much alcohol in a single session could put you in a coma or even kill you
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and inhibitions, making you feel more sociable.
  • Some exaggeration of whatever mood you're in when you start drinking.
  • Causing a wide range of physical health problems, either as a result of binge drinking or from drinking most days of the week over recommended levels.
  • The problems caused by alcohol include cancers, heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, and falls and other accidents.

Sources: Talk to Frank, DrugScope