The Canterbury Hub

Latest news from CCCU's Journalism course


Ketamine’s popularity is growing at an ‘alarming rate’ in the UK

Ketamine use is rising rapidly in the UK and at an ‘alarming rate’, The Priory Group has reported.

The leading provider of mental healthcare and addictions, has reported that in the last 12 months they have seen a 28% increase in people seeking ketamine addiction treatment.

Since 2019, there has been a shocking 387% increase in people seeking ketamine addiction treatment.

This was all found by experts at The Priory who revealed the addictive substances causing most cause for concern in 2024, were ketamine and cocaine, although alcohol still remains as the UK’s most prevalent addictive substance.

What is Ketamine? 

Ketamine is commonly known as ‘ket’, ‘vitamin K’, ‘K’ or ‘special K’.

It can vary from being in liquid form which can be injected, or as a white, grainy powder which can be snorted or swallowed as a tablet.

The effects of the drug include hallucinations and dissociative anaesthesia – out of body experiences (often referred to as a ‘K hole’)

Ketamine can also make people vulnerable to surroundings which can lead to accidents, severe injury and even death.

@o.viceit’s what Attenborough intended! #k♬ original sound – VICE

Why is it becoming so popular in the UK? 

Dr Radu Iosub, who is a consultant psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Bristol, told The Priory Group: “The average ketamine user is ten years younger than for other illegal substances, and the drug’s popularity is growing at an alarming rate.”

The increasing availability combined with relaxing effects has drawn more young people towards taking ketamine.

Mr Iosub also explained: “Ketamine is cheaper than other drugs, which explains some of its popularity among students and younger people.”

He also notes that its popularity is growing as “some people will use ketamine as a way of self-medicating underlying mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or past trauma”.

Until fairly recently, ketamine was classified as a Class C drug, with many unaware of its dangers. However, in 2014 the Misuse of Drugs Act reclassified ketamine – moving it from Class C to a Class B.

 Ketamine addiction

Prolonged use of the drug can result in a ketamine addiction.

Ketamine addiction usually follows the same ‘binge-crash’ pattern as cocaine misuse, and often needs professional addiction treatment, regular use can also cause severe bladder complications.

Ketamine is not only addictive, but using it for longer periods of time can build up a tolerance leading them to take higher doses. There are no physical withdrawal symptoms with ketamine, so the addiction is sometimes called a ‘psychological dependence’.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Chunmei Wang

Most behavioural and psychological difficulties as a result of their addiction, with others losing contact with reality even when they are not using the drug, which can sometimes lead to psychosis-like symptoms emerging.

What is going on in Kent?

The Forward Trust, a local addiction service that ’empower people to break the cycles of addiction or crime’ are offering an in-person workshops on ketamine and cocaine at University of Kent.

These in person monthly workshops will cover issues in relation to addictive substances, they will run on the May 15, June 12, July 10 and August 14 from 3pm-4pm in the Kennedy Seminar Room 1. 

The workshops will provide “friendly, non-judgmental support and advice no matter what substance you use or may have used in the past”.

Susie Duthoit, the University of Kent’s organiser of the workshop said: “The Forward Trust are running workshops based on what they get the most requests for from young adults in East Kent, including a large number of students both in school and university.

“All the workshop topics come from the main issues or themes that they are presented with from young adult service users. They are free to attend and for anyone, with no need to sign up.”

The Kennedy Building is on the University of Kent campus:

 Susie Duthoit’s email:

Watch this to find out more details on the dangers of ketamine:

Feature image credit: Creative Commons, Wikimedia Commons