I was surprised to read about Ketamine abuse in the IC Network newsletter. Ketamine is also known as the “date rape drug” and has quickly outgrown heroin and methamphetamine as the drug of choice due to its low cost and easy accessibility in many parts of the world. It is commonly used at RAVE parties and is known as a “Club Drug,” often mixed with ecstasy. According to the IC Network newsletter:
When new IC support group leader Shereen convened her first meeting in Kuala Lumpur earlier this summer, she was stunned to find the room filled not with typical IC patients, but with young, teenage ketamine addicts. She may be the first IC support group leader to see this tragedy and the tremendous toll it appears to be taking on young adults around the world.
Using and abusing Ketamine has caused Ketamine bladder syndrome to develop and it is a newly reported side effect of the drug. Over the past two years, physicians in Asia, Europe and Canada have reported that they treated young Ketamine abusers who have developed potentially irreversible bladder damge.
In 2007, clinicians from Toronto (Canada) described nine patients who were daily ketamine users and who presented with severe dysuria, frequency, urgency and gross hematuria. At cystoscopy, all patients had severe ulcerative cystitis. Clinicians in Hong Kong (China) shared a similar presentation of ten street ketamine users diagnosed with ulcerative cystitis .
In 2008, Drs. Colbunders and Van Erps (Belgium) described the case of a 20 year old man who presented with a seven month history of urinary frequency, nocturia, urgency and pain during urination, as well as episodes of severe bleeding from the bladder shortly after beginning recreational ketamine use. The researchers conclude “We expect that in the future an increasing number of cases of cystitis caused by ketamine use will be seen in young adults.”
In December 2008, Hong Kong researchers released information from the largest study that has been done to date on Ketamine abuse. The study results revealed that 59 Ketamine use study participants had moderate to severe lower urinary tract symptoms, drastically reduced bladder capacity and increased frequency. Out of these 59 Ketamine users, 71% had “bladder mucosal inflammation similar to IC.”
Ketamine has been available in the United States for more than 10 years and it can be prescribed to patients with severe neuropathic pain or those who need “end of life” pain control. The IC Network says they don’t want to discourage the value that Ketamine can provide to the necessary patients that need it.
When used properly and under supervision, ketamine can be quite helpful in reducing pain. Thus, we don’t want to discourage its use for pain control, but we do want to raise awareness about its misuse.
For more information on Ketamine Bladder Syndrome, please visit the Ketamine Bladder Syndrome website.