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UN Warns Of Damage From Legal Rave Drug Special K

UN warns of damage from legal rave drug

11 November 2008 – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has warned that ketamine, a legal substance used to tranquilize horses, has taken the world’s dance scene by storm, despite the risk it poses to the brain, kidneys and other internal organs.

Ketamine, which is also used as a general anaesthetic in some developing countries, is now the most abused drug in Hong Kong, according to a statement by UNODC. It is gaining popularity across southern China, and its use is spreading throughout East Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. But because ketamine is a legal substance, and therefore not controlled, the true extent of its use is unclear and probably underestimated.

“It’s a new candy for the youth,” UNODC expert Jeremy Douglas said, adding that the drug was made more dangerous because people were often unaware that they were taking it. “Sometimes they know they’re using ketamine, sometimes they don’t,” he said.

Ketamine, which is nicknamed ‘Special K’, can be taken in powder, liquid or tablet form and is often mixed with other drugs or alcohol. It is sometimes laced with synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and sold as ecstasy, because it commands a higher price than straight ketamine.

With low doses, party-goers may feel euphoric, have psychedelic experiences and lots of energy. High doses might plunge the user into an out-of-body or near-death experience known as the “K-hole.” “It’s an anaesthetic, so it can put someone in a catatonic state, a different state of being,” Mr. Douglas explained. “Perception of the body, time and reality is severely altered.”

Experts say long-term use may impair the memory and cognitive functions, and damage the kidneys and other internal organs.

UNODC recently launched a programme called Global Synthetics Monitoring: Analysis, Reporting and Trends (SMART), to work with governments to develop, assess and report data and information on synthetic drugs.


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