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Is ketamine addictive? 

Ketamine addiction is the physical or psychological tolerance that develops when a user takes this drug repeatedly. Such patience makes the user crave the drug, want more of the drug, and do more of the drug. This addiction can lead to many potential consequences and side effects, including withdrawal symptoms, long-term side effects, permanent psychosis, or other problems. While most psychedelic drugs such as Ketamine are not widely considered addictive, this drug can cause severe dependence that requires professional treatment if the user decides to quit.

Ketamine is an anesthetic used for both humans and animals, particularly in emergency or trauma situations. But it is often abused for its dissociative effects, such as auditory and visual distortions. Those who abuse Ketamine usually snort it, but it can also be injected. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic drug approved for use in animal and human surgery. The drug’s therapeutic purpose is to induce unconsciousness, numbness, and memory loss while maintaining adequate blood pressure and respiratory reflexes.

People began to use Ketamine recreationally in the late 1960s. It is now classified as a Schedule III controlled substance [1], which means that it has the potential for abuse and dependence. People tend to abuse Ketamine for the dissociative effects, characterized by floating and dream-like sensations at low doses and hallucinations and near-death or spiritual experiences at high doses. Ketamine is often used in a binge pattern to maintain the high over an extended period, which can cause tolerance to build quickly. Users also frequently combine it with other drugs.

Ketamine Addiction

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Ketamine warnings. Can ketamine be addictive & risk?

People who abuse Ketamine should know that there are several dangers associated with using this drug. The drug can lead to extreme dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. Amnesia is a likely outcome when Ketamine is used, leading to severe dangers for the user, especially if they are in the wrong atmosphere with the bad people. Driving heavy machinery or operating motor vehicles can also pose severe risks for the user.

Ketamine addiction & abuse can cause symptoms of depression, irritability and insomnia. A ketamine addiction can occur when one uses it in high doses.
Can Ketamine be addictive? Yes, Ketamine addiction can cause symptoms of depression, irritability, and insomnia. Ketamine addiction can occur when one abuses it in high doses.

Among illicit drugs, higher levels of alcohol involvement were found for visits involving Ketamine (71.5%). Among visits involving pharmaceuticals, about 25 percent also involved alcohol. Alcohol was present in 38.6 percent of visits involving penicillin, 37.9 percent of visits involving central nervous system (CNS) stimulants (e.g., ADHD drugs), and 31.2 percent of visits involving antidepressants [2].

Ketamine may produce weird or odd thoughts. Even when the drug is provided during a surgical procedure, the thoughts or behaviors that ensue following the surgery may be erratic or unusual. The same is true for a user who abuses Ketamine. These thoughts and erratic behaviors can lead to irrational activities that could pose severe risks to the user.

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Ketamine Addiction Effects

Can ketamine be addictive? The resounding answer is yes. Ketamine has several desired and adverse effects on the mind and body, which can be dangerous.

Short-Term Effects

The short-term or immediate effects of Ketamine use are:

  • Sedation
  • Orientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in perception of sound, time, surroundings, and body
  • Feelings of invulnerability
  • Reduced awareness of the environment
  • Dream-like state
  • Increased distractibility
  • Impaired thinking
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • Reduced pain perception

The “K-hole” is a hallucinogenic state associated with high doses of Ketamine. It is often described as a frightening or near-death experience, though it can be spiritual. 

Ketamine addiction can cause side effects like amnesia but less severe withdrawal symptoms than other drugs.
 It can cause side effects like amnesia but less severe withdrawal symptoms than other drugs.

Side Effects

Side effects are undesired, secondary effects that can be harmful or dangerous. Side effects of Ketamine abuse include:

  • Anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Psychotic symptoms, including paranoia and delusions
  • Flashbacks
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Increased salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Coordination problems
  • Dizziness
  • Cataplexy (physical collapse due to intense emotions)
  • Dystonia (involuntary muscle spasms or contractions, which can be painful)
  • Rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of muscle tissue, which can result in kidney failure or shock)
  • Seizures

Long-Term Effects

The long-term consequences of Ketamine abuse are limited. However, preliminary findings point to the following potential effects of chronic use:

  • Impaired memory and cognition
  • Diminished executive functioning: includes higher-level skills such as problem-solving, attention, planning, abstract thinking, self-control, decision-making, emotional regulation, and moral reasoning
  • Impaired psychological wellbeing
  • Delusional thinking, even after abstinence 
  • Depressive and dissociative symptoms 
  • Visual disturbances or problems
  • White matter degeneration in the brain 
  • Psychological dependence 
  • Painful urination 
  • Stomach pain is commonly referred to as “K-cramps.”

In addition to the Ketamine-specific mental and physical effects, there are several commonly encountered consequences of substance addiction – a chronic condition characterized by continued use despite negative consequences. These may include: 

  • Occupational problems or losing a job
  • Academic suspensions or expulsion
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Financial hardships
  • Abandonment of previously enjoyed hobbies

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Signs And Symptoms Of Addiction

A Ketamine addiction (diagnosed as Ketamine use disorder) is defined as a maladaptive pattern of Ketamine use that causes distress in the individual’s life. The signs and symptoms include: 

  • Ketamine is taken in amounts that exceed or for lengths of time more extraordinary than initially intended
  • Inability to quit or cut back on Ketamine use
  • Spending an excessive amount of time getting and using Ketamine and recovering from its adverse effects
  • Intense cravings to use Ketamine
  • Continuous Ketamine use resulting in-home and work ramifications
  • Continuous Ketamine use regardless of interpersonal or social difficulties exacerbated or caused by the drug
  • Reduced involvement in occupational, social, or recreational activities
  • Repeated Ketamine use in dangerous situations, such as driving a car
  • Continued Ketamine use despite mental and physical problems worsened or caused by the substance
  • Tolerance is more Ketamine is needed to “get high,” and the same amount of Ketamine elicits a diminished effect or intoxication

An individual must exhibit at least 2 of the above symptoms within a 1-year period to be diagnosed with an addiction to Ketamine.

Overdose Symptoms Of Ketamine

Overdose often occurs when Ketamine is combined with other drugs. Overdose on Ketamine alone is rare. Often, overdose occurs when Ketamine is combined with other medications, such as opioids, cocaine, alcohol, or amphetamines. 

 The effects of a Ketamine addiction overdose may include the following symptoms.
 The effects of a Ketamine overdose may include adverse symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms Of An Overdose

  • Respiratory Depression
  • Sedation
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Chest Pain
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Jaw Muscle Spasms
  • Dilated Pupils

Rarer Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory Arrest
  • Polyneuropathy (diffusely impaired nervous tissue functioning)

If you suspect you or someone you know has overdosed on Ketamine, call 911 or immediately visit the nearest emergency room.

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Ketamine Addiction Treatment Programs

Ketamine addiction treatment programs will provide a person with the resources and education to detox and live a drug-free life. Ketamine addiction is a chronic disease that will take time and effort to heal, but it can be treated.

At a Ketamine addiction treatment program, a person will begin to detox from the drug and be provided with medical supervision to ensure a safe detox. In addition, most treatment programs will provide s person with medication to help them with the physical withdrawals, if necessary. Furthermore, a Ketamine addiction treatment program will give a client therapy to get through the emotional turmoil from their drug addiction and regain control of their thoughts and feelings without the influence of the drug.

Ketamine addiction treatment programs are the most effective way for people to overcome their addictions. A person will have the help and support they need and the proper resources and professionals to conquer their addiction through the program.

Components Of Drug Treatment

  • Detoxification: The first step in the addict’s journey toward sobriety is eliminating the individual’s body’s drugs.
  • Therapy & Counseling: Once the detoxification process has begun, it is essential to narrow down the reasons why the individual started to use drugs in the first place. To determine this, the individual will be placed in a group or individual counseling session to help narrow down the cause.
  • Coping Mechanisms: As the client continues their counseling, they move into the next stage of recovery. A successful treatment program will teach them how to handle their problems without using drugs. Counselors or therapists will give the client the strategies to maintain a drug-free life after the program has been completed.
  • Ongoing Support: Once the client has been through their detoxification and counseling, they will be able to return to their life. Depending on the program, the individual will attend weekly group meetings, have a sponsor, or have mandated individual sessions during this final stage.

At We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing support through Ketamine addiction and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

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[1] Drug Enforcement Administration – Drug Scheduling. 

[2] SAMSHA – Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits (