Substance Abuse

Ketamine Abuse: Addiction, Effects and Treatment

Ketamine is a potent dissociative anesthetic and is most commonly compared to PCP and dextromethorphan. Ketamine is generally used as an anesthetic for animals, but has turned into a recreational drug for addicts. Its popular street names include Special K or Vitamin K. This drug is readily available on party scenes, and is referred to as a date rape drug.

ketamine home anesthetic

Brief History

According to, this drug provides a feeling of detachment from one’s body and is proven to be a hallucinogen. In 1963, Ketamine was created to promote a fast-acting general anesthesia and indirectly replaced PCP. It was during the 1970s that the federal government released and approved Ketamine for human use and is still being used as a veterinary medicine in most hospitals.

Basic Information about Ketamine

It is considered as a Schedule III controlled substance, which means it can lead to physical dependence among users. It is strictly restricted to use Ketamine without any prescription.

Ketamine is usually injected or snorted, and it gained popularity as a date rape drug because it is odorless and colorless. With that being said, it can easily be mixed unto a drink without detection because it is water soluble.

As enumerated by Addiction Hope, Ketamine causes various reactions when used, such as numbness, out-of-body experiences, hallucinations and depression. When ingested at high doses, it is potentially harmful and may even lead to death.

Those that have experienced ingesting high dosages of Ketamine experiences total disassociation with their identity. That is why precaution must be duly taken when dealing with Ketamine.

Ketamine Addiction and Tolerance

A study conducted by University of Maryland revealed that there is an estimated 2.3 million users of Ketamine, and the user’s age runs as early as 12. There is also a steady increase on the number of Ketamine users under the age of 21. Meanwhile, 74 percent of individuals aged 12 to 25 accounts for the number of emergency department visits in the United States with ketamine overdose as its reason.

Ketamine is a popular choice of drug for parties and night clubs in the U.S. It is a drug designed to be used as anesthetic in hospitals and veterinary clinics, but is mistakenly believed to be non-addictive. However, ketamine addiction is an ongoing and growing problem in the country and some parts of Asia.

Ketamine poses highly dangerous results and reactions. On a research done by a drug detox clinic, regularly consuming ketamine may lead to increased tolerance and independence for the drug. Ketamine addiction is described as the physical tolerance that a person develops when using the drug over and over again.

Addiction to the drug may lead to wide ranges of health problems such as withdrawal symptoms, permanent psychosis and severe depression. There are also cases noted wherein it caused death due to overdose.

K-Hole Phenomena is the effect of using Ketamine in large doses. In this case, the user experiences near-death toxicity and a body-detaching experience. The K-hole experience happens when users become totally unattached to their own bodies and identities.

ketamine powder

The most common signs when using ketamine is speech difficulty, anxiety, rapid eye movement and redness of skin. According to National Institute of Drug Abuse, Ketamine can alter the brain’s function in terms of cognitive and sensory perceptions. It triggers the release of serotonin and glutamate neurotransmitter that regulates the brain functions.

Once you are addicted to Ketamine, it may be difficult to overcome the disease without any professional help. To know if you or someone is addicted to ketamine, you need to find these signs:

  • The user increases the amount of use to get and achieve the particular “high” that the drug brings.
  • The user spends excessive sums of money to experience the next drug hit.
  • The user is getting used to the effects of the drug.
  • The user seemingly becomes more and more detached.

If you or someone you know experiences any of these, seek medical help immediately. Treatment can be done by balancing the brain’s chemical and going through a series psychological evaluation and treatment.

Ketamine Side Effects

Ketamine is a a type of hallucinogen and dissociative drug. It can alter and distort a person’s perception of their own identity and reality. Ketamine abuse can lead to potential life-threatening effects that affect both the physical and mental heart of a person.

Short-term mental effects of ketamine include delirium, hallucinations and anxiety. Meanwhile, it may also affect the physical effect of the user like sensory distortion, analgesia, and speech impairment. The user may also experience nausea, vomitting, increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure as short term side effects while using Ketamine.

In a published research study by PubMed, people who use this drug also experience long-term effects like apnea and respirator depression. Additional side effects can also include cardiovascular arrhythmias, increased salivation, tonic-clonic movement and intracranial pressure.

A regular drug user may also get exposed to a higher risk of liver or kidney damage, seizures and rapid heartbeat. Here are some of the biggest and most critical dangers of ketamine abuse:

1. Elevated Pain Threshold

Ketamine is an anesthetic used by both humans and animals. It has the medicinal ability to increase glutamate chemical in the brain that numbs a particular part on the brain. In high doses and ingestions, it shuts down certain areas of the brain. The potential danger to this is that when a person is using this as a recreational drug, it diminishes the person’s ability to feel pain, making it a health hazard for them.

2. Helplessness

Ketamine users develop psychological behaviors like severe anxiety and depression. A person who frequently uses this drug tends to feel that they are dissociated from the world and their identities. Furthermore, high dosage of Ketamine (i.e. 100 to 250 milligrams) can immobilize a person. It blocks off physical sensations altogether, making them feel vulnerable.

3. Death

Ketamine overdose can lead to death. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported numerous cases of death due to Ketamine overdose. When a person injects or ingests high amount of ketamine, it can shut down respiratory and circulatory system of the person. The glutamate and serotonin neurotransmitter impacts major systems of the body.

Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Ketamine is a Schedule III drug, which means it has the tendency or ability to keep a person psychologically dependent on their use.

A ketamine user may experience withdrawal symptoms the use of ketamine ceases for quite a while. As with any drugs, withdrawal symptoms often occur when a particular drug alters the opioid receptors in the brain. Addiction Center Rehabilitation Center concluded that psychological withdrawal symptoms can extremely be dangerous because it may lead to intense depression and increased suicidal tendencies.

Ketamine withdrawal symptoms are psychological in nature because the drug is an effective hallucinogen as it directly affects the brain’s cognitive functions. During the withdrawal process, the user will become emotionally unstable and must be isolated from others. It is highly recommended to place the user in a controlled environment where it is safe for both the user and the people around. The duration of withdrawal can last up to 72 hours or several weeks depending on the gravity of addiction.

Here are some of the withdrawal symptoms caused by ketamine abuse and addiction as researched by the Addiction Center:

  • 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

ketamine in bottles

Ketamine Treatment and Rehabilitation

It is difficult to overcome any form of addiction, but it is even more difficult to overcome ketamine addiction. However, it can be done with help of experts and the support of loved ones. Professional detox and rehabilitation can lead to recovery and would help the user through different phases.

Here’s a guide that will lead you to full recovery from ketamine addiction:

  • Accept that you need help. One of the things that hinder addicts from seeking help is that they are in denial of their situation. Admitting your addiction is a hard pill to swallow, but it is through this that you take the first step in recovery. It will be a long and winding road but the journey to your recovery is worth it.
  • Be transparent to your loved ones. Tell your family what you are going through. By being transparent about your situation, chances are you get all the support and love you need to make it through the recovery period.
  • Look for rehabilitation centers. There are many rehabilitation centers that can help you in breaking down your addiction. Look for a rehabilitation center that fits your need. Read the reviews and get to know their therapists, nurses and doctors.
  • Find treatment that works. The first thing you need to know and understand is the different treatments and services that you need to undergo. Every treatment differs from one another. Find the type that you are comfortable with.

Fortunately, there are different therapies that can help recovering ketamine addicts. Here are some of the ketamine addiction treatment options that can help users get back on track:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This is a psychosocial intervention used to treat mental disorders. It combines both behavioral and cognitive psychology that makes it an efficient method in treating addiction. This type of treatment focuses on critical behaviors and determines the best way on how to effectively change it.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

As a cognitive behavioral treatment, DBT focuses in treating chronically suicidal individuals with borderline personality disorder. It is recognized as the gold standard in terms of psychological treatment, and has been scientifically proven in treating disorders such as addiction, severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Drug addiction is a growing problem worldwide. As the world grows increasingly smaller, you may find it even more possible to get drugs from anyone.

Remember that ketamine addiction poses grave danger to users and addicts. It may be hard to overcome this sickness especially if you do not have any support group. However, if treated properly, anyone can get back on track with their lives.

Drug addiction may be a disease, but to cure this sickness is all up to us. If we wanted to change and get better, we can find all the ways we can to achieve complete and fast recovery.



  1. Stephanie N Marcus

    Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them. We need to pull LE out of the drug biz – that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison. We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a "hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system." This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as a health issue. The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the "great child protection act," its actually the complete opposite. The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.

    "Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

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