Ketamine Addiction and Abuse

Ketamine is a hallucinogenic that is often abused by many young people. It is sometimes used as a tranquilizer for humans and animals.

Understanding Ketamine

Ketamine, which is sold under the brand name Ketalar, is a Schedule III controlled substance. Ketamine also referred to as Special K, Kit Kat, cat valium, Dorothy or Vitamin K, is an anesthetic for animals that is abused as a recreational drug. It is particularly popular in the club scene among young adults.

Ketamine is produced as a liquid, which can be injected; as a white or off-white powder, which is snorted; or as a pill. It has been used as a date rape drug because it is odorless and colorless and is not detected by the victim in a beverage, often rendering its victim completely helpless.

Ketamine has a short-lived high and tolerance to the drug builds up quickly, requiring user to keep increasing quantities as they chase the initial high.

Ketamine Effects and Abuse

Ketamine is a dissociative hallucinogenic tranquilizer that causes the user to experience a full-body buzz resulting in a pronounced sense of relaxation. Typically, the high lasts less than an hour. Higher doses typically taken through injections can lead to an effect known as the “K-hole.” The “K-hole” is where the individual has what has been described as a near-death or out-of-body experience, feeling completely detached from reality. The anesthetic properties can cause the person to feel numb, which may lead to accidents and serious injuries while under its influence.

Addiction to Ketamine

An addiction to Ketamine is difficult to overcome without help. Even when someone wants to stop using the drug, chemical changes in the brain make it nearly impossible to stop.

Once an individual becomes addicted, they spend their days feeling utterly detached from their surroundings, and become incapable of leading a normal, productive life. They are usually cognitively impaired at this stage, with speech and memory both affected.

Signs of an addiction to Ketamine include:

  • Increasing the amount of use
  • Becoming obsessed with the next hit
  • Spending excessive amounts of money on the drug
  • Failing to keep up with responsibilities such as school and work
  • Building up a tolerance and needing more and more to feel the high
  • Neglecting friends and family

Seeking professional help is key to recovery from ketamine addiction. Treatment can help stabilize the brain’s chemical balance, making it easier to begin the psychological recovery process.

Questions about treatment?

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Signs of Ketamine Abuse

When abused, Ketamine has powerful hallucinogenic properties that can cause highly unpredictable results. Signs that someone you care about may be using Ketamine include:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Slurred speech
  • Depression
  • Rapid eye movements
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Antsy behavior
  • Loss of coordination

The Dangers of Ketamine

Because Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance, it is illegal to be used recreationally. Schedule III drugs are likely to cause psychological dependence and may cause physical dependence. When someone uses the drug recreationally, they may experience serious side effects, such as:

  • Sweating
  • Impaired coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach cramps
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
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Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Recognizing a Ketamine Addiction

Some people begin using Ketamine as a recreational club drug. Clubbers may be looking for a mild psychedelic experience, which is why ketamine and MDMA are so commonly abused.

Some of the signs of a Ketamine use disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Clinical Disorders, include:

  • Problems with relationships
  • Time spent trying to acquire the drug
  • Desire to limit use
  • Lack of control over use
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Ignoring obligations and responsibilities

Withdrawal Symptoms from Ketamine

Someone who has abused Ketamine over a long period of time may experience dangerous physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Double vision
  • Loss of coordination
  • Rapid breathing
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Emotional imbalance


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If you or someone you care about is struggling with a ketamine addiction, get in touch with us now for help.

What is Ketamine Withdrawal?

Withdrawal symptoms occur because the ketamine has altered opioid receptors in the brain. Psychological withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. Perhaps the most dangerous is intense depression, which can lead to an increased suicide risk.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms from Ketamine are primarily psychological in nature. Some chronic users have reported experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms, but these have not been scientifically proven. During the withdrawal process, the user will become more emotionally unstable and may need to be isolated in order to protect others. Professional supervision for Ketamine withdrawal is recommended for a safer, more controlled withdrawal and detoxification process.

The most common Ketamine withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis, including delusion and hallucination
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Rage
  • Nausea
  • Decrease in respiratory and cardiac functions
  • Insomnia
  • Shakes
  • Hearing loss
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Duration of Withdrawal

The withdrawal process from Ketamine can last from 72 hours to several weeks. Although it is not generally life-threatening, it can be quite uncomfortable. Symptoms typically set in between 24 to 72 hours after the last dose of Ketamine. The process will vary from person to person

Ketamine Withdrawal Timeline

Days 1-3 Acute withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 24 hours of discontinuing ketamine use. These symptoms include shakes, fatigue, insomnia, rage, depression, hallucinations, delusions, tremors, double vision, nausea, rapid breathing, and hearing loss.
Days 4-14 Withdrawal symptoms may persist for two weeks, but begin to taper off toward the two-week mark.
Days 15+ Most withdrawal symptoms have stabilized. However, the nerve cell damage in the brain may be permanent and certain psychological issues may persist.

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Get Help Now

You can beat Ketamine addiction. Medically assisted detoxification and a quality treatment program can help you reach sobriety safely and effectively.

Take the first step towards recovery today. Please call us now for help finding a Ketamine addiction treatment program.