What are Ketamine and K-Hole?
Ketamine hydrochloride, commonly referred to just as ketamine, Special K, simply K, or Kit-Kat, are a class of drugs known as dissociative anesthetics. This class of drugs is commonly used as an anesthetic. Nitrous oxide and phencyclidine (PCP) are some other examples of dissociative anesthetics.
Many doctors still use ketamine for general anesthetic in some cases. Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration also approved an almost identical drug known as esketamine for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression.(1)
While people use ketamine recreationally to achieve the ‘out of body’ sensation, when consumed in higher doses, the drug can produce serious hallucinogenic and dissociate effects. These effects are collectively known as K-hole or K-holing. Sometimes even in smaller doses, a person can experience these adverse effects, even if the drug is taken as prescribed.
What Does K-Holing Feel Like?
Many people have described K-holing as being similar to having an out of body experience. K-hole is a profound feeling of being separated from your body or rising above your body. Others have also described the experience of K-hole as being teleported to another place or having intense sensations of almost ‘melting’ into the surroundings.
Some people even find the experience of K-holing enjoyable and keep taking ketamine again to experience K-hole. However, many others find this to be a scary experience, and it has even been compared to being similar to having a near-death experience.
There are many factors that affect how you have a K-hole experience when taking ketamine. This includes:
- How much ketamine you take
- Whether you are mixing it with other substances or alcohol
- Your surroundings
- If you have already taken some other substance before taking ketamine
Here Are Some Of The Psychological Effects Of K-Holing:
- Panic and anxiety
- A feeling of disassociation or detachment from the body or surroundings
- Changes in sensory perception, including time, sound, and sights
There are many physical effects of K-hole as well because when you are in that condition, numbness makes it difficult to move or speak. This makes it nearly impossible to seek help. Most people do not enjoy this associated feeling of helplessness.
The Physical Effects Of K-Hole Include:
Since everyone’s body is different, it becomes difficult to understand or predict how the experience of K-hole will be.
How fast you experience, K-hole also depends on how you use the drug. Ketamine is most commonly found in a powder form and is to be snorted. The drug can also be injected into muscle tissue or taken orally. The effects of ketamine can be felt within:
- 30 seconds to 1 minute if the drug is injected
- 5 to 10 minutes if it is snorted
- 20 minutes if it is ingested
Again, since everyone’s body is different, you may feel the K-hole effects later or sooner than others.
The effects of K-hole tend to last for at least 45 to 90 minutes, depending on how much dose you have taken. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in some people, the effects of K-holing can last for many hours or sometimes even days.(2)
Risks of Entering a K-Hole
Entering a K-hole or even using ketamine has many risks, some of which are quite serious. Not everyone who uses ketamine as a recreational drug ends up having a good experience, even when taken in low doses or when prescribed by a doctor. In those who have a terrible experience, there can be some very comfortable mental and physical symptoms.
These symptoms can include:
- Extreme panic
- Short term memory loss
The risks involved in taking ketamine in higher doses or taking it regularly include:
- Long-term memory problems
- Slow breathing
- Permanent brain damage
- Abnormal movements
- Date rape
- Slow heart rate
- Liver failure
- Urinary problems such as kidney failure, urine incontinence, and cystitis
- Death by overdose(3)
Being in a K-hole also has many risks, including being unable to speak or move. If you do make an effort to move, you are likely to fall due to the numbness and injure yourself.
Some people who are K-holing may become extremely violent, agitated, and put others and themselves at risk for harm. Also, while you are experiencing a K-hole, people around you are not going to be able to understand if you need help or not.
Taking ketamine is associated with a high risk of dependency and addiction, primarily when it is used frequently or in high doses. Many ketamine users (even with a prescription) end up becoming addicted to the drug. Most people decide to try out drugs such as ketamine in order to escape negative feelings. If you are feeling upset or depressed about something in life or just generally going through a rough patch, then keep in mind that there are many support groups available today that can provide you with the necessary help. There are also much more effective and safer ways of treating depression than resorting to taking drugs.
If you feel you are addicted to ketamine or some other drug, then it is recommended that you talk to your doctor. There are strict patient confidentiality laws in place which prevent doctors from reporting such information to law enforcement agencies, keeping you safe. There are also many rehabilitation centers or support groups that can help you get de-addicted to ketamine.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). FDA approves new nasal spray medication for treatment-resistant depression; available only at a certified doctor’s office or clinic. [online] Available at: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-nasal-spray-medication-treatment-resistant-depression-available-only-certified [Accessed 22 Feb. 2020].
- Drugabuse.gov. (2020). What Are the Effects of Common Dissociative Drugs on the Brain and Body?. [online] Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/what-are-effects-common-dissociative-drugs-brain-body [Accessed 22 Feb. 2020].
- Schifano, F., Corkery, J., Oyefeso, A., Tonia, T. and Ghodse, A.H., 2008. Trapped in the” K-hole”: overview of deaths associated with ketamine misuse in the UK (1993-2006). Journal of clinical psychopharmacology, 28(1), pp.114-116.