21 May 2024

In recent years, the UK has witnessed a concerning rise in ketamine use, transforming from a relatively obscure anaesthetic into a popular recreational drug. This surge has brought with it a host of physical and psychological challenges for users. In some cases becoming addicted and needing treatment and rehabilitation. Rehabs UK are able to offer a variety of innovative treatment solutions including residential rehab, home detoxing for those who need detoxing from ketamine, as well as outpatient programmes tailored for those grappling with ketamine addiction.

It was made an illegal Class B drug in January 2005, when only a recorded two percent of 16 to 24-year-olds had tried it. According to the government’s data on drug misuse, that figure had tripled by 2020, rising to around six percent.

Ketamine: From Anaesthetic to Party Drug

Ketamine, originally developed as an anaesthetic for medical and veterinary use, has found a new identity on the streets, festival and in club scenes. Its dissociative properties, which induce a sense of detachment and euphoria, have made it a sought-after substance among recreational users.

According to the UK government's Crime Survey for England and Wales, ketamine use has been on the rise, particularly among young adults aged 16 to 24. In 2021, approximately 1.3% of this age group reported using ketamine in the past year, a significant increase from previous years.

The end of March 2022 saw record amounts of ketamine seized by police and border forces as the quantity of the confiscated drug rose by 884 percent from 208kg to 1,837kg.

Rehabs UK Senior Treatment Advisor, Scott Ardley states: “we are seeing an increase which is ever growing at a rapid rate. 20% of our weekly enquiries relate to Ketamine compared to last year which would have been around 5%. It’s normally parents reaching out because the clients are young normally between the ages of 16-23 and generally a higher percentage of females.”

The usage stats are climbing, and now an astounding one-in-20 young people have done K also known as Ket or Special K.

DJ Salute tweeted in 2023: ‘There is far too much ket on dancefloors in the UK imo. everyone should have fun but it sucks seeing people kind of just standing around like zombies and not dancing. I have so much more fun dancing in a club when the people around me are more engaged.’

Why is Ketamine on the rise in the UK?

There could be a number of reasons Ketamine is on the rise, such as the cost (which can be linked to the current state of the economy – people cannot afford other party drugs) and the accessibility with both local dealers and online/social media.

According to a BBC report, a Labour council leader has blamed government funding cuts for a rise in drug use and crime in the area.

St Helens Council leader David Baines was reacting to reports of an increase in the number of young people taking ketamine in the last two years.

He said funding had been slashed and addiction services had been "cut to the bone" so it was "no coincidence" there had been a rise in societal problems.

Senior Treatment Advisor Scott believes, “We think this is due to how cheap the drug is around £10 a gram, £25 for 3.5 grams but we’ve heard that someone accessed an ounce for £90 (28 grams) working out to £3.21 a gram. It can work out cheaper than cannabis and in some cases alcohol. Cocaine is around £80-£100 a gram so therefore Ketamine is much more accessible as it can also be produced in the UK.”

He continues: “Ketamine is a horse and tranquiliser and therefore there is a legitimate demand in the country for it as we are so rural so this can easily be exploited and manipulated to supply drug dealers.”

The trend of young people using social media and being targeted by dealers online may also have an impact on the rise of Ketamine drug use.

Scott comments: “Social media also has an impact which is hugely popular in the younger generation specifically Snapchat where drug dealers are able to communicate and sell due to disappearing messages and ease of access which also makes it harder for the police to track.”

The Dangers of Ketamine Use

Despite its growing popularity, ketamine use carries severe risks. Regular use can lead to addiction, characterised by a compulsive need to use the drug despite harmful consequences. Long-term use can cause bladder issues, known as ketamine bladder syndrome, which can result in severe urinary tract damage and, in some cases, necessitate surgical intervention. Additionally, chronic use can lead to cognitive impairments, memory issues, and profound psychological disturbances such as depression and anxiety.

Again, Scott states: “It is mentally addictive and excessive use brings a variety of health impacts such as Ketamine bladder, cramps and kidney problems as it’s a crystallised drug. Once they start getting those health problems it becomes a vicious cycle because they up their intake due to developing a high tolerance to it as well as needing to subside the withdrawal effects such as cramps and pains from their bladder, kidneys and liver.”

Addressing Ketamine Addiction

Recognising the urgent need for effective treatment solutions, Rehabs UK offers specialised treatment options designed to support individuals struggling with ketamine addiction. These programmes are tailored to meet the unique needs of each client, providing a comprehensive approach to recovery that includes medical supervision, psychological support, and holistic therapies. The right option for the individual involved can be determined by a free assessment.

Home Detoxing: Rehabs UK provides medically monitored home detox programmes that allow clients to begin their recovery journey in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. This approach helps mitigate the stress and disruption that can accompany traditional inpatient detoxing. Under the guidance of experienced healthcare professionals, clients can safely navigate the withdrawal process, with access to medication to manage symptoms and recovery support.

Rehabilitation Programmes: Beyond detox, Rehabs UK offers robust rehabilitation programmes designed to address the underlying issues driving ketamine addiction. These programmes integrate a variety of therapeutic techniques, including cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling, and support groups. By focusing on both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, Rehabs UK helps clients develop coping strategies, rebuild their lives, and maintain long-term sobriety. There is also access to support for family members who are trying to support a loved one with addiction.

The Path to Recovery

The rising tide of ketamine use in the UK underscores the need for accessible and effective treatment options. With the right support, individuals can overcome their addiction and move towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with ketamine addiction, don't hesitate to reach out to Rehabs UK. Our dedicated team is ready to help you embark on your journey to recovery.