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Ketamine Addiction and Rehab

Ketamine pills in RX prescription drug bottle

Published: February 20, 2024

Ketamine addiction occurs when a person becomes reliant on the drug and cannot function without it.

There are several consequences of ketamine addiction, and in some cases it can lead to death. Substance abuse commonly occurs alongside mental health disorders and can have negative effects on many areas of your life.

It’s possible to live a life without ketamine addiction if you seek out the right kind of treatment and start your journey to recovery.

Keep reading to learn all you need to know about ketamine addiction including signs, side effects, and treatment options.

What to Know About Ketamine

Ketamine is an anesthetic that has hallucinogenic effects similar to PCP. It can have dissociative and sedative effects, distorting your senses of sight and sound.

Though used in some medical settings, ketamine is labeled a Schedule III controlled substance by the FDA, so illegal use is considered to be ketamine abuse. Medically, ketamine can be used to treat mental health disorders or in place of opioids for pain.

Ketamine comes in two forms: liquid and powder. The powder form of ketamine is typically snorted or smoked in combination with marijuana or tobacco. On the other hand, liquid ketamine can be mixed into drinks or injected into the muscle.

Additionally, ketamine can be found in other drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, or MDMA.

Ketamine misuse is widespread, with about 1.1% of the population over 12 years old having used it. Illegally obtained ketamine is usually not pharmaceutical grade which is leading to an increased risk of fentanyl exposure.

Key Facts on Ketamine and Ketamine Addiction

  • Names for ketamine: K, special K, vitamin K, cat tranquilizer, jet K, kitkat, super K, cat valium, purple, honey oil, etc.
  • Appearance of ketamine: Ketamine comes in a clear liquid and a white or off-white powder. The powder is sometimes pressed into tablets.
  • Types of treatment: Medical detoxification, inpatient and outpatient rehab programs, support groups, and aftercare.
  • Ketamine effects: hallucinatory effects, impaired senses, impaired judgment, impaired coordination, numbness, trouble moving, memory loss, nausea, pupil dilation, and uncontrolled eye movement.
  • Age group that commonly abuses ketamine: People between ages 12 and 25
  • Number of people who have used ketamine in their lifetime: 3 million as of 2015

Signs of a Ketamine Addiction

Like other substance addictions, many people try to hide ketamine addiction from their loved ones.

That being said, it’s important to be familiar with the symptoms of ketamine addiction, even for yourself. Behavioral and physical changes can both be indicators of addiction.

Signs of ketamine addiction may include:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Social isolation or withdrawing from relationships
  • Loss of interest in regular activities
  • Inability to quit ketamine use
  • Inability to stop thinking about using ketamine
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Euphoria
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Dangerous behaviors used to obtain ketamine
  • Using higher doses of ketamine for the same effects
  • Physical or psychological dependence

Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms occur when your body creates a physical dependence on a substance. When you stop using ketamine, you may notice behavioral and physical symptoms.

Ketamine withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Shaking
  • Insomnia
  • Hearing loss
  • Psychosis
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Agitation or rage
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive sweating
  • Ketamine cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

Side Effects of Ketamine Addiction

All drugs have side effects, including ketamine. While some of the side effects of ketamine use are perceived as pleasant and can encourage repeated use, many of them are hazardous to your health, especially when the ketamine is obtained illegally.

Ketamine has both short-term and long-term effects. Short-term effects are those that you feel immediately after ketamine abuse, or sometimes in the few days following the abuse. On the other hand, long-term effects occur after repeated use over an extended period of time.

The effects of ketamine can depend on the form you use. For example, the effects of injecting it are different than snorting it or taking it in a pill.

Learn more about the side effects of ketamine abuse below.

Short-Term Effects of Ketamine

Short-term effects are often the ones that make ketamine abuse seem appealing, but not all of the immediate effects are pleasant.

Short-term effects may include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Distorted sight and sounds
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Memory loss or amnesia
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Numbness
  • Nausea
  • Stiff muscles
  • Dilated pupils
  • Uncontrollable eye movements
  • Dizziness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Sedation
  • Inability to move
  • Out-of-body experience (k-hole)
  • Ketamine overdose
  • Death

Long-Term Effects of Ketamine Use

Ketamine abuse can be dangerous, but extended and repeated use can lead to even more health problems.

Long-term effects can include:

  • Kidney damage or issues
  • Stomach pain
  • Depression
  • Memory issues
  • Ulcers or pain in the bladder
  • Increased risk of HIV
  • Increased risk of hepatitis

Risk Factors for Ketamine Drug Addiction

There are several risk factors for drug abuse, including ketamine addiction. These risks do not necessarily mean you will develop a ketamine addiction, but rather you are at higher risk of doing so.

One risk factor is family history. If you have family members who have had a substance use disorder (SUD), you may be more prone to getting addicted to a drug like ketamine.

On the other hand, peer pressure or lack of family involvement can also put people at higher risk of ketamine addiction. Additionally, exposure to ketamine use at a young age can be a risk factor.

Another important risk factor is health conditions or mental illness. Some people may turn to illicit substances to self-medicate for pain or mental disorders, which can lead to a dependence on ketamine.

Diagnosing a Ketamine Substance Use Disorder

Diagnosing a ketamine SUD can only be done by a healthcare professional. Though that doesn’t mean ketamine addiction cannot be detected prior to diagnosis.

If you notice signs of ketamine addiction in yourself or someone you know, it’s important to seek professional help. A healthcare provider can offer a proper medical evaluation to determine if you are experiencing addiction.

You may be asked about your ketamine tolerance, how frequently you use it, or about your social or professional life. The healthcare provider will also look for withdrawal symptoms during this evaluation.

Ketamine Addiction Treatment Options

Ketamine addiction can be very challenging to overcome, but that does not mean it’s impossible. There are many treatment options.

Ketamine Detox

Ketamine detox, or medical detoxification, is a very common treatment option that is often provided at the start of a rehab program.

Detoxing is a process that helps your body get rid of any ketamine that is still in your system. Detoxing can be very challenging due to withdrawal symptoms and is very dangerous to try to do on your own, which is why medical detox is so important.

During a medical detox, your care team will monitor your vitals, administer any necessary medications or treatments, help you manage withdrawal symptoms, and supervise you throughout the process.

Some people just complete a medical detox while others continue to a rehab program shortly after.

Ketamine Rehab Programs

Rehabilitation programs are arguably the most common treatment approach to substance misuse recovery. Ketamine rehab programs can be inpatient or outpatient services.

Inpatient rehabilitation is a very structured and regimented type of treatment that offers round-the-clock care. Participants of an inpatient treatment program are required to live in a treatment center for the length of their program.

Conversely, outpatient treatment is a little less intensive in nature. Participants of an outpatient rehab program do not live in a care facility but travel to one several times a week for treatment. Some people start in outpatient care while others transition to it from inpatient care.

Both types of rehab involve a combination of treatment services like counseling, behavioral therapy, and more.

Recovery Support Groups

Support groups are a common addition to rehab or can be a stand-alone treatment approach.

Support groups are an opportunity for people dealing with similar issues to talk about their experiences, journeys, worries, goals, and more. They’re also a great place to meet new friends and a support system that can hold you accountable.

There are many kinds of support groups, but some people choose 12-step support groups like Narcotics Anonymous. Either way, support groups can provide a sense of community during your recovery journey and help you feel less alone.

Continuing Care

After you complete a treatment program for ketamine addiction, you’ll likely be directed to some kind of continuing care. Also known as aftercare, continuing care is the treatment services you choose to continue after your formal treatment program.

Aftercare is meant to be catered to the individual based on their needs and what will be most beneficial to their recovery. That being said, continuing care will look very different from person to person.

Some examples of continuing care include behavioral therapy, sober housing, counseling, and more. Aftercare is designed to help you transition out of treatment and encourage long-term recovery.

Find Help and Support for Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine addiction can deeply damage many areas of your life, including your health. The short- and long-term effects can cause a lasting impact that could change your life forever.

However, it is possible to recover from ketamine addiction with the right treatment and support. Treatment can be individualized to fit your needs and make recovery a smoother process.

If you or your loved one has more questions about ketamine addiction and treatment, give our helpline a call today.

Ketamine Addiction FAQs

Is ketamine addictive?

Yes, ketamine is addictive. Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance that can alter your brain and bodily processes. Over time, it can be difficult to function without ketamine and repeated use only worsens the addiction.

Do ketamine infusions lead to addiction?

Ketamine infusions rarely lead to addiction. Ketamine used in a professional medical setting is pharmaceutical grade and is provided in closely monitored doses.

This greatly lessens the likelihood of addiction. However, it is an addictive substance, so it’s not entirely impossible.

Your treatment provider is trained to look for signs of addiction and will closely monitor your experience with this substance. Don’t be afraid to ask your provider questions if you have any.

Doesn’t ketamine treat addiction?

Yes, ketamine is sometimes used to treat addiction in combination with other treatment services. However, like ketamine infusions for other conditions, ketamine to treat addiction is closely monitored and is pharmaceutical grade.

When people become addicted to ketamine, it is often because they are abusing the drug by using it illegally in high doses.

Additionally, illegally obtained ketamine is not pharmaceutical grade and can be mixed with other substances that increase the likelihood of addiction.

Has anyone died due to ketamine use?

Ketamine use without the use of other drugs is not commonly linked to death, however, that doesn’t mean ketamine isn’t linked to death. For example, Matthew Perry’s recent death was linked to ketamine use.

Is it possible to quit ketamine?

Yes, it’s possible to quit ketamine if you get help from a professional. With a proper treatment program and the desire to recover from your addiction, it is possible to recover from ketamine addiction.

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