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Why The Use Of Ketamine Is On The Rise In Australia

For some, ketamine is associated with the horse tranquilizer drug, for others, it’s a cheap alternative for a party drug.

The use of ketamine is growing among young Australians, with national wastewater monitoring finding its consumption rose to a record high in 2023.

Listen to the episode of The Briefing now:

In Australia, ketamine is a section eight drug – meaning it’s a highly controlled medicine and any recreational use is illegal, but its price is appealing to young people who don’t want to fork out for drugs like cocaine and ecstasy.

Ketamine can be snorted, smoked, injected, and swallowed and commonly makes users feel spacey, floaty, detached, numb, dreamy.

In this episode of The Briefing, Simon Beaton is joined by Dr Monica Barratt, a social scientist at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

Dr Barratt said why ketamine may not be the most dangerous drug out on the streets, there are risks that are associated with its use that people should be aware of.

“People who take ketamine daily or regularly for many years can end up with issues with urination and issues with the bladder,” she said.

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“In terms of the psychological issues, you can also become dpendent on ketamine, so you might want to have more of it. Tolerance is possible as well, so you need more to feel the same effect, so that’s also there.

“Having said that, when we look at all the substances, it’s certainly not the most dangerous. There’s been some studies… ranking drugs and I believe ketamine is in the middle zone, because of those urinary concerns and dependents, meaning that it can’t sort of be low risk or no risk.”

To hear all of Dr Barratt’s chat, detailing where in the country is using ketamine the most and what are dangers should be considered by its young users, listen to the episode of The Briefing. 

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