YOUNG people have been presenting to GPs and A&E with abdominal complaints due to ketamine use.

A fresh warning has been issued to young people and their parents about the use of ketamine and the health problems it can cause. 

St Helens Borough Council, Merseyside Police, Change, Grow, Live (CGL), St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust and others have joined forces on a new campaign to raise awareness of the risks. 

Recently, organisations embarked on a week of action to spread the word, with young people delivering presentations in schools and other organisations receiving training around ketamine harm and effects. 

The Star has recently reported on warnings being issued from police in St Helens about growing ketamine use among young people.

Ketamine is a general anaesthetic that reduces sensations in the body, including the ability to feel pain – putting people at risk if they hurt or injure themselves as they won’t always be aware.  

Regular ketamine use can cause agitation, panic attacks, damage to short and long-term memory and depression, if taken frequently.   

Young people are presenting at GPs and A&E with abdominal complaints, with ketamine sometimes causing cause serious bladder, kidney and liver problems, which can be very painful.  

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Some of the damage caused may be irreversible, meaning long term health problems.  

Street ketamine is usually sold as a white or beige crystalised powder and is sometimes cut with other powders to add weight and improve the dealer’s profits. It’s impossible to tell whether the ketamine you buy has been cut with other substances by looking at it.  

There are also concerns about young people being at risk of exploitation and involved in the distribution and selling of drugs for criminal gangs. 

Cllr Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council’s cabinet member for wellbeing, culture and heritage, said: “Health and community safety partners are growing increasingly concerned by recent signs that ketamine use is rising, especially among younger people. 

“Ketamine is addictive and is associated with a variety of serious health risks that not everyone who uses the drug may be aware of. For some young people this may become a life-long or irreversible condition, meaning they will have serious health problems for the rest of their lives. It’s just not worth the risk.” 

There have been increasing concerns about the drug's effects on behaviour.

In a recent video, Police Constable Pete Allen said that officers have seen a “rapid escalation in violent crime and anti-social behaviour” in and around St Helens town centre.

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It is a criminal offence to possess ketamine and it can take a sentence of five years for possession, and 14 years for possession with intent to supply. 

He also spoke of how criminal gangs are exploiting young people in the town.

If you are concerned about your own or other’s use of ketamine, or other drugs or alcohol, then please contact the relevant service.  

For under 19s, contact the Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Team on 01744 675605 or visit  

For adults aged 19 and over contact CGL on 01744 410752 or visit