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Ketamine Use Could Lead To Major Prison Time In U.K.

A rash of 20- and 30-somethings being treated for the long-term effects of abusing Special K has led the British government to crack down.

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By McCarton Ackerman

12/11/13

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The club drug ketamine, otherwise known as “Special K,” could land British users of the drug some serious jail time. A new law proposed by government advisers recommends that ketamine, otherwise known as a hallucinogenic horse tranquilizer, be upgraded from a Class B substance to a Class C. If this is approved, ketamine users could receive up to five years in prison and dealers could face up to 14 years in jail.

The government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) hasn’t reviewed ketamine since 2004, but it was banned as a recreational drug in 2006. ACMD chairman Professor Les Iversen said that some college-aged ketamine users needed to have their bladders removed because of their addiction to the drug, which can cause pain and frequent urination.

The issue isn’t limited to 20-somethings, though. A clinic in London reported that it was mainly adults in their thirties being treated for the long-term health effects of club drugs. “These are people who have used club drugs recreationally, often without a problem, for years," said Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, who founded the Club Drug Clinic in London. "Slowly their problems have escalated to the point they have run into significant difficulty. The harms we are now seeing, you wouldn’t normally associate with club drugs." 

Approximately 50 people are being treated each month and demand for the service is so high that a second location in London was opened. However, not all of the effects of ketamine are negative; research released in January 2012 showed it could provide immediate relief from symptoms of depression.

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