Ketamine use: First aid visits increased five-fold in 6 years

Ketamine seems to be getting more popular as a party drug, according to new figures from the Trimbos Institute. Over the past six years, the number of people who went to a first aid post or hospital after using this drug recreationally increased five-fold, the institute said in its Drug Incidents Monitor, NOS reports.

Ketamine is an anesthetic that can cause hallucinations. The share of first-aid visits caused by ketamine use increased from 2.7 percent in 2009 to 8.2 percent in 2017.

The drug is mainly used by young people when going out, according to the institute. While ketamine was initially only used by experienced drug users, "it now seems to be becoming more accessible in multiple streams of the nightlife crowds", the researchers said.

Despite the increase in first-aid visits, ketamine use remains relatively low in the Netherlands. 1.2 percent of Dutch 18 or older used ketamine last year. This amounts to approximately 170 thousand people, about the same as in 2016. The discovery of illegal ketamine increased considerably over that period however. Customs officers seized 2.6 kilos of the drug in 2016. Last year it was 800 kilograms. 

Ketamine can be dangerous to use, the Trimbos Institute warns. People can react very violently to the drug, in extreme cases ending up in a state that can be compared to paralysis or a near-death experience. In the long-term, the drug can damage your kidneys and bladder.