Ketamine or PCP

NB! Drugs effects vary according to the psychological state and the health of the person concerned, the context in which the drug is taken as well as the quality of the drug and the quantity consumed.


Ketamine (“Special K”, “Vitamin K”) and its derivative, PCP, are anaesthetics which have been diverted from their medical use. They come in the form of a powder, liquid or tablets.

Ketamine and PCP are are psychoactive substances which are:

  • illegal
  • synthetic
  • hallucinogenic.

Desired effects

  • Euphoria, calming, elimination of pain
  • Perception distortions (time and space), hallucinations and stimulation of the senses
  • State of psychic dissociation, depersonalisation, feeling of being detached from one’s body

Physical symptoms

  • Rise in body temperature
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Hyperventilation, accelerated respiratory rate (only with PCP)
  • Increase in blood pressure and heart rate

Immediate risks

  • Dizziness, vomiting and risk of asphyxia due to lung secretions
  • Breathing difficulties, hyperventilation
  • Risk of overdose: loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, death (particularly when associated with alcohol or another drug)
  • Psychological (anxiety, panic attacks), neurological (temporary paralyses) and psychiatric (toxic psychosis) disorders
  • Risks related to the injection: transmission of infectious diseases during syringe sharing (hiv and hepatitis)

Long-term risks

  • Difficulty in urinating or pain when urinating, need to urinate often and pressingly, incontinence and serious inflammation of the bladder.
  • Memory disorders
  • Psychological disorders: schizophrenia, depression, isolation, aggression (murder, suicide)
  • Psychological dependence (only with ketamine)

Sciensano collects data and analyses the consumption of drugs, the drug market, the consequences for health, requests for treatment and the policies implemented with regard to drugs in Belgium.

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