How to be properly poisoned, Part #2
We write this article as a follow-up to our earlier article, How to be Properly Poisoned, to provide an update upon one or two additional poisons to our list of typical toxins that may be added to a person's drink in a bar or restaurant easily and without their noticing. The substances this article addresses are Ketamine and chloral hydrate. Their short-term effects are both very similar, although they may have important distinctions between them in terms of their side-effects. They may also of course be mixed together (particularly given that one is more expensive than the other, as discussed below).
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic used medically for induction and maintenance of anesthesia. It is also used as a recreational drug. It is one of the safest anesthetics, as, in contrast with opiates, ether, and propofol, it suppresses neither respiration nor heart rate. Ketamine is also simple to administer and highly tolerable compared to drugs with similar effects which are flammable, irritating, or even explosive. Ketamine is a novel compound, derived from PCP, created in pursuit of a safer anesthetic with similar characteristics. Ketamine is also used for acute pain management.
Here are some important facts to know about Ketamine.
It is easily produced in most industrialised countries, as it is used as an anaesthetic for cattle and horses. Hence it can be purchased from a corrupt veterinary pharmacy or pharmaceuticals factory.
It is available in both white / brown powder and odourless colourless liquid forms.
It is used recreationally but not very often (for reasons that will become obvious). The country where it is really a problem as a recreational narcotic is Australia; we are anecdotally informed that this is because cocaine (another white powder which it appears very similar to) is so scarce in Australia.
When taken recreationally, it has hallucinatory and trance-like effects; users may close their eyes and sway.
In a sufficient dose, Ketamine will cause unconsciousness without restricting airways. Hence it is used as an anaesthetic, in particular battlefield situations and with children.
Taken nasally as a powder, its period of onset is short (e.g. 15 minutes) as is its period of effect (60 minutes or so).
Taken orally (in a drink), onset is longer (maybe 30 minutes) as is period of effect (2-3 hours). This is what you should be expecting if it is used to poison you.
Taste: bitter and unpleasant. It is so unpleasant in its taste that drinking it is rare (some people wrap the powder in thin paper before swallowing it). Snorting it is also unpleasant.
You may not remember what happened to you while you were 'high'.
There are generally no symptoms of physical withdrawal. You may feel depressed the next day.
One particular feature of Ketamine, deriving from its status as an anaesthetic, is that you may not feel pain inflicted while you are intoxicated. For this reason and due to its amnesiotic effects, we have been informed that it may be used for raping people (in particular per anum).
Ketamine is expensive; its street price is as much as USD100 per gramme. That is presumably because it is complex to manufacture and hence supply proportionate to demand is relatively low.
For further information about Ketamine as a recreational narcotic, see here:
The medical consensus seems to be that Ketamine is very dangerous as a recreational narcotic. We do not recommend it!
Chloral hydrate ('Mickey Finn')
Chloral hydrate has traditionally been used as a toxin only, not as a recreational narcotic or as a medicine at all.
It is a colourless solid that dissolves easily in water without an odour or colour but leads to a slightly sweet taste.
It was popular amongst terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland during 'The Troubles' as a toxin: in smaller quantities to cause disorientation and loss of memory; in larger quantities to kill.
Disorientation and loss of memory may last 2-3 hours (but see below).
It is easily made in pharmaceutical factories and hence easily purchasable by criminals in the first instance but its anaesthetic / amnesiotic effects may last longer than for Ketamine (see below).
Chloral hydrate is an irritant to the gastrointestinal tract. Ingestion of chloral hydrate may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Gastric perforation and esophageal stricture have been reported in cases of chloral hydrate overdose. (Both of these conditions may of course be terminal.)
'Mickey Finn' is mentioned together with Ketamine because the short-term effects may be similar: sufficiently similar to be indistinguishable to the victim. However chloral hydrate these days is some cheap muck your corrupt pharmacist finds on the back shelf when asked for Ketamine. There is no other demand for it whatsoever.
Chloral hydrate is distinguishable from Ketamine by its post-onset irritation to the gastro-intestinal tract, which may last for 24-48 hours. Consume copious quantities of water to 'wash it out'. Amnesia may persist during this post-onset period.
Lessons to be learned
1. Do not leave your drink unattended when in a bar or restaurant. If you can't take it with you to the toilet, just throw it away.
2. Where risk is elevated, drink only bottled beers (you can carry them in your pocket) or bottles of wine and other things that can be opened in front of you.
3. In either case, if you conclude potential intoxication (in particular due to strange tastes), stay where you are and focus upon staying awake with your eyes open pending the period of intoxication (2-3 hours). Stay close to others who are trusted during this period.
4. Easier said than done, but try not to panic.
5. Stay in communication with others constantly: easy with modern mobile 'phones. It gives you something to concentrate on.
6. Due to risks of amnesia, do not go home, or anywhere else, on your own or with people not trusted, even after the intoxication effect appears to have worn off.
7. In the case of chloral hydrate, be prepared to spend a couple of days in bed feeling bad until the gastro-intestinal effects wear off (you may have no memory of this period). Drink lots of water, and eat soft food because your aesophagus may contract making eating more solid foods extremely unpleasant.
7. If you follow these guidelines, you will be okay.
The PALADINS. We are here to serve.