Special K, slang for a drug called ketamine (Ketalar, "K", Kitkat, K hole, Vitamin K, blind squid), has increased in popularity among adolescents in recent years. Its resurgence in popularity occurred at raves, semi-spontaneous parties that are often held in large halls or outdoors and include techno music, dancing, and, predictably, drugs. A liquid or powder version of the drug is either smoked or snorted.
Ketamine is used by veterinarians as an anesthetic for large farm animals. Human use of ketamine as a "feel-good" drug reportedly began in New York dance clubs in the 70s. The user feels a euphoric high, and often feels as if he or she can "do anything." Body and mind become disassociated, putting the user at risk of dangerous behavior because the normal feedback from body to mind is ignored by the user. The drug also has a strong hallucinogenic effect.
Because ketamine is an anesthetic someone under the influence can sustain an injury and disregard the pain because they do not get the normal signals that there is a problem. Anesthetics also lower the heart rate and breathing rate, effects that can easily become deadly if the drug is overused, used at too high a dosage, or used by an individual with underlying health problems (especially undetected health problems).
Ketamine is also used as a date-rape drug. Young women should be warned that they put themselves at significant risk of becoming victims of sexual assault when they are under the influence of powerful drugs such as ketamine.
Emergency room admits and even deaths related to drugs popular at raves have increased dramatically in the past decade. The long-term effects of abuse of these drugs have yet to be completely determined, but common sense tells us that using any powerful anesthetic over a period of time will have a profound effect on the central nervous system.
Other popular rave drugs are ecstasy (not as harmless as people would like to think; deaths have been reported), MDMA, GHB, Rohypnol, and PMA, known collectively as "club drugs."
Parents often feel completely "out of it" when it comes to teen culture. One of the best ways to keep the channels of communication open with your teen is to KNOW their culture. Listen to their music, watch their movies, read what they read. Keep in touch with the pulse of today's adolescent culture and you have a better chance of communicating with your child in a persuasive, effective way. If you sound like a "square" and have no clue about what your teens are watching, listening to, and who they are emulating in celebrity culture, you will have a hard time bridging the generation gap and persuading your teen to avoid dangerous, high-risk behaviors.