Near-death states reported in a sample of 50 misusers

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Increase in recreational ketamine use may be a cause for concern. We aimed here at assessing, in a sample of ketamine misusers, concordance between the typical near-death experience (NDE) features and the on-drug psychoactive effects the subjects experienced. In 2003-2005, a sample of previous ketamine misusers recollecting a ketamine-related NDE were recruited through snowballing and screened with the means of the Greyson NDE Scale; 125 participants made an initial contact with the researcher and 50 reported a minimum score of 7 at the ‘Greyson NDE Scale’. Interviewees were in the range 21-66 years old; 27 participants (54%) were educated at BA level; 18 (36%) had an MSc and 5 (10%) a PhD. Eight (16%) interviewees had a definite religious background. An average lifetime ketamine intake of 140 occasions was reported by the interviewees, who typically presented with a polydrug, including cannabis and MDMA/ecstasy, misuse history. In 45 (90%) cases, the NDE occurred during the first few occasions of intake. Most frequent features of reported NDE states included: altered perception of time (90%); strong sense of detaching from own physical body (88%); and a sense of peace/joy (76% of subjects). Although results here described were elicited from a self-selected, non randomized, limited size sample of misusers, we suggest that recreational ketamine intake may be associated with occurrence of near-death related states, and this may be a reason for concern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-924
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • ketamine
  • drug misuse
  • near-death experiences (NDEs)
  • out-of-body-experiences (OBEs)


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