How Employees Who Get High on Ketamine, Endanger the Workplace


"Ketamine is used as an anaesthetic by medical practitioners & veterinarians. It is sometimes used illegally by people to get high. Ketamine is a dissociative drug, which means it acts on different chemicals in the brain to produce visual & auditory distortion, as well as a detachment from reality" [1]. Clearly, this presents a clear & present danger in the workplace, & this is why here at Drug Testing Kits UK, we include testing for ketamine, in our highly accurate, state-of-the-art multi-panel on-site drug tests

The Low-Down:  Looks Similar to Cocaine, But is a Very Different Drug!

In its illegal form, Ketamine is normally sold as a grainy white powder (which resembles cocaine), or a light brown powder. Although it can also come in the form of a liquid, or pills. Also known as: horse trank (short for tranquilliser), Super K, Kitkat, Ket, K, or Special K; Ketamine can be snorted, swallowed or injected. Moreover, in some instances, users smoke Ketamine combined with cannabis. The latter of which is also tested for, along with Ketamine, in Drug Testing Kits UK's, British-approved and Southern Ireland-approved, multi-panel drug tests.

"As Ketamine is a general anaesthetic, it reduces sensations in the body. The effects of Ketamine may be experienced within one minute if injected, 5 to 15 minutes if snorted, & up to 30 minutes if swallowed. Its effects can last for around an hour, however, an individual’s coordination or senses may be affected for up to 24 hours after initial use" [1,2].

And this is why it is so crucial for employers to include testing for the illegal use of this substance, in regular & unexpected on-site drug tests. The tests are very simple to administer, and there is no need for companies, organisations and institutions, to pay a fortune for a medic to come out.  Simply appointing an appropriate member staff from HR, or another sector, is all that is needed. The test only takes a matter of minutes, and the results are easy to read

So What Are the Effects of Ketamine?

It is important to understand that Ketamine can impact employees differently. This is due to various factors, such as:

  • Health status
  • Weight
  • Height
  • How much Ketamine they have consumed
  • The strength of the Ketamine they took (this can be different according to the batch)
  • Whether the employee takes Ketamine regularly
  • Whether they took any other drugs around the same time as they took Ketamine [1]

Ketamine's multiple effects can include:

  • Feeling relaxed and elated
  • Falling into a 'K-Hole,' (meaning the user's mind feels detached from their body). They cannot to do anything about this scenario, and this can make them show signs of feeling scared
  • Having auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Being confused
  • Acting in a clumsy fashion
  • An elevated heart rate
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Experiencing blurred vision
  • Speaking with a slur
  • Being less sensitive to pain
  • Panicking
  • Feeling anxious
  • Acting in a violent manner
  • Being sick
  • An inability to move
  • Inflexible muscles
  • Suffering a convulsion
  • Having a ‘near death’ experience
  • Becoming unconsciousness
  • Death, and
  • The feeling of coming down

Even 24 hours after taking illicit Ketamine, employees could well experience:

  • A loss of memory
  • Disorientation
  • Impaired judgement
  • Pain
  • Aching
  • Feelings of anxiety, and
  • Clumsiness

Employees who have a been taking Ketamine regularly over a long period of time, can suffer from:

  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty smelling things (due to the damage from snorting the drug)
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Personality shifts
  • A lack of concentration
  • An inability to think clearly
  • Memory issues
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Irregular kidney function
  • Abnormal liver function
  • Ketamine bladder syndrome (a painful condition which can cause ulceration in the bladder, incontinence, and issues holding in urine)
  • Problems at work
  • Social issues
  • Financial woes
  • The need to take more Ketamine in order to achieve the same effect
  • Being dependent on Ketamine [1].

With the seriousness of such extensive lists, it is imperative that company, organisation, and institute supervisors and managers, are aware of the symptoms, and make sure that regular and sporadic (unannounced), in-work drug tests, are carried out to schedule. Moreover, they should be mindful that if an employee (knowingly of unknowingly), takes an extract from a strong batch of Ketamine; or self-administers a large amount, they they can overdose.


What Happens If Employees Take Ketamine With Other Drugs?

"The effects of taking Ketamine with other drugs - including over-the-counter, or prescribed medications, can be unpredictable & dangerous" [2]

For example:

  • Ketamine + opiates + benzodiazepines or alcohol: when taken in conjunction with other depressant drugs, the cumulative effect could lead to heart or lung function slowing down or stopping, which can result in death. Moreover, it can also cause the user to choke (especially if they are sick); pass out, collapse, and seriously injure themself
  • Ketamine + ecstasy, cocaine or amphetamines (stimulant drugs which rev up the central nervous system via messages between the brain and body): this combination puts a colossal strain on the body, which can result in high blood pressure and a rapid heart rate [1, 2]

On-Site Workplace Drug Testing Solutions For Polydrug Use

Polydrug use is the terminology that describes using more than one drug (or from of drug), at the same time, or one after another. Polydrug use can involve both illicit drugs and legal substances, such as alcohol and medications [1, 2].

The UK & Southern Ireland Workplace: What Type of Drugs Tests Should Be Used?

Being leading advisors, and the go-to approved drug test suppliers across the length and breath of Britain and Southern Ireland, Drug Testing Kits UK has extensive experience in helping to counsel countless corporations, medium and small sized businesses, organisations, and institutions (including medical facilities). We are always abreast of any changes in rules and regulations in relation to conducting workplace drug tests; and we maintain an extensive blog site which has all the up-to-date news and information which employers should be aware of. All articles are written in easy to understand layman's terms.

There are various factors which have to be taken into consideration, when choosing the most beneficial on-site drug testing kits. These include aspects such as the nature of the industry; the type of work that is being carried out by employees; and the employee policy that has been set out by the company/organisation/institution, in relation to regular (announced) on-site drug tests, and random (unannounced) drug tests.

Popular illegal drug use in the UK and Northern Ireland, is constantly revolving, and to that end, our professional team at Drug Testing Kits UK, advise that the combination of drugs that your company/organisation/institution test for, does not remain static. Owing to this recommendation, we invite you to contact our highly knowledgeable customer service advisors, every 12 months, so that we can review your drug testing protocol, and let you know about any changes to legislation; the most used illicit drugs in your part of the country at that time; and news on any new rapid results, innovative drug testing kits that have recently come on the market.

There is no charge for this service for our new, and existing valued customers, and we take great pride in advising both small companies (that only have a few employees), and mega large corporations (that employees thousands of people). We just ask that you give us specific basic details via email. These should include: the industry that you are in; your location/s; the number of employees; the demographic of your workforce; where the employees are stationed (for example, in an office or factory, or outside, working on sites, or driving, etc.

 Keeping Your Policy on Drug Testing Up to Date

With regard to employee monitoring & Drug testing: "There are limits to what an employer can do to check on an employee's activities. Employers also need consent from staff for drug testing in the workplace" [3] 

If your company has not previously carried out drug testing in the workplace, then by law, you need the agreement of your members of staff. Moreover, your drug policy must be set out in your contract of employment, or in your company handbook. Of note: if you want to carry out random drug tests on employees, you must bear in mind that such tests should be genuinely random [3].

"Staff can't be made to take a drugs test, but if they refuse when their employer has good grounds for testing under a proper occupational health and safety policy, they could face disciplinary action. This can include being sacked" [3]


[1]. Alcohol & Drug Foundation (2022). "What is ketamine?"

[2]. Frank (2022). "Ketamine."

[3]. Ni Direct (2022). "Drug testing and employee monitoring."