Ketamine Is Destroying Young People's Bladders

Ketamine has been all over the news in recent years as it sheds its seedy image as a party drug to becoming an increasingly respectable treatment for severe depression. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been reaching for the anesthetic medication to keep the blues away.

But ketamine can still be addictive if abused recreationally, experts tell The BBC, and heavy use has been implicated in young people experiencing bladder issues that are commonly associated with the elderly — including incontinence and the frequent need to urinate.

"I can't walk 50 metres without either needing to sit down or needing to run to the toilet," a 20-something ketamine addict named Beth told the BBC.

Researchers call what Beth is experiencing ketamine bladder syndrome or ketamine-induced cystitis. Besides bladder control issues, ketamine addicts sometimes have blood in their urine, as well as urinary blockages and bladder pain — all due to heavy exposure to ketamine, which can damage the lining of the bladder.

In the United Kingdom, a drug report from last year showed that ketamine usage has more than doubled from about seven years ago.

Due to the increased abuse, the BBC reports that there's been a proliferation of specialty clinics to help young ketamine addicts and their bladder problems. For example, 60 ketamine patients with bladder issues are being treated at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

"Ketamine destroys the lining of the bladder, and that can have very serious consequences," Urologist and member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons Mohammed Belal told the BBC. "I think we've seen a huge explosion of young people taking ketamine throughout the country, and that means that they come to see us with significant urinary symptoms and these symptoms can include going to the toilet every hour or even every half an hour."

In the most severe cases, patients with malfunctioning bladders will have to get surgery to fix or reconstruct the lower urinary tract.

That's something that should give pause to anybody who wants to disappear into a K-hole.

More on ketamine: Elon Musk Says Ketamine Is His Special Medicine