Near-death states reported in a sample of 50 misusers

Subst Use Misuse. 2010 May;45(6):916-24. doi: 10.3109/10826080903565321.


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 seven 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, nonrandomized, limited size sample of misusers, we suggest that recreational ketamine intake may be associated with occurrence of near-death related states.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Analgesics / poisoning*
  • Death*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Ketamine / pharmacology
  • Ketamine / poisoning*
  • London
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics
  • Ketamine