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Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine Addiction: What You Need to Know

Ketamine is a powerful sedative that has been used for both medical and recreational purposes. It’s not as widely abused as other drugs, but ketamine addiction can be dangerous and difficult to overcome. If you or someone you love is struggling with ketamine addiction, it’s important to learn about the drug and seek professional help. Read on to learn about ketamine addiction, including signs and symptoms, treatment options, and how to get help.

What Is Ketamine, and How Does It Work?

Ketamine is a medication typically used as an anesthetic for humans and animals. It is also used as a pain reliever. Some people use ketamine to treat depression. It hasn’t been approved by the FDA to treat depression, so when it’s used in this way, it is considered an “off-label” use. Ketamine is classified as a dissociative anesthetic. This means it produces a sense of detachment from your surroundings.

Ketamine can be:

  • Injected
  • Swallowed
  • Sniffed
Ketamine

Ketamine is made through a series of chemical reactions. The first reaction involves the compound benzaldehyde. The second reaction creates the metabolite norketamine.

Ketamine works by blocking the action of the neurotransmitter glutamate in your brain. This neurotransmitter is structurally like phencyclidine (PCP), which also blocks the action of glutamate. Glutamate helps send messages in the brain.

NMDA receptors are glutamate receptors that are important in learning and memory. Ketamine blocks these receptors, which is why it can cause memory loss. NMDA receptors are necessary for making memories last longer. When ketamine blocks NMDA receptors, it can cause memory impairment.

Ketamine can increase the activity of certain brain regions that are involved in pleasure and motivation. This is one reason some people abuse ketamine.

Facts About Ketamine

Ketamine has been around for over 60 years. Here’s what is known about the drug:
  • Ketamine was developed in the1960s to provide pain relief during surgery and other medical procedures.
  • Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States. Its potential for abuse is high.
  • Recreational use of ketamine is believed to have started in the 1970s.
  • Ketamine can be used for both general and regional anesthesia.
  • Ketamine is a rapid-acting general anesthetic, meaning it takes effect quickly and wears off quickly.
  • Ketamine can be addictive.
  • Ketamine can cause hallucinations, euphoria, and dissociation.

What Are the Effects of Ketamine?

The effects of ketamine typically begin within minutes. Ketamine effects usually last for around an hour, though that may vary from person to person. At lower doses, ketamine produces feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Higher doses can cause hallucinations and out-of-body experiences.

Ketamine affects people in different ways. Some people feel energized and happy after taking ketamine. Others feel relaxed and calm. Some people report feeling dissociated from their body or surroundings. Ketamine can also cause people to feel sick or dizzy. In some cases, it can produce hallucinations and other changes in perception. Ketamine is sometimes used recreationally for its hallucinogenic effects.

Ketamine can be addictive and cause adverse side effects like dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. It is important to use ketamine only as directed by a medical professional.

What Are the Risks of Ketamine Use?

With medical supervision, ketamine can be safe in low doses for short periods of time. In higher doses or for longer periods of time, ketamine can cause serious side effects. Ketamine abuse can lead to addiction and health problems such as bladder damage, liver function issues, and psychosis.

The short-term effects of ketamine use can include:

  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased appetite or hunger
  • Confusion and amnesia
  • Visual hallucinations or distortions
  • Arguing, aggression, and bad decisions
  • Impaired motor function, which can lead to accidents
  • Impaired judgment
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures (rare)

If you’ve been taking ketamine and experience any of these effects, it’s important to seek medical help.

Long-term risks associated with ketamine use include:

  • Bladder problems (including ulcers)
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Addiction and dependence
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Flashbacks and hallucinations
  • Liver damage

What Are Other Names for Ketamine?

Ketamine goes by a number of names when sold illegally on the streets.

Street names for ketamine include:

  • Purple
  • Cat Tranquilizer
  • Jet K
  • Special K
  • Super Acid
  • Vitamin K
  • Super K
  • Cat Valium
  • Kit Kat
  • Special La Coke

How Does Ketamine Addiction Happen?

In the early 2010s, ketamine gained a reputation as a club drug. That’s why some people associate ketamine addiction with clubbers and partygoers. The truth is, anyone can develop a psychological addiction to this powerful drug. Ketamine is increasingly being used as a recreational drug for its ability to cause hallucinations. When ketamine is abused, it can cause severe psychological and physical problems. In high doses, it can even lead to death.

How does ketamine addiction develop?

The effects of ketamine are like those of other hallucinogens, such as LSD. But ketamine is much more potent than these other drugs. As a result, it only takes a small amount of ketamine to produce hallucinations. This makes it easy for people to believe they can control their use of the drug. This is not true. Chronic ketamine use can lead to tolerance, meaning you need higher and higher doses to achieve the same effects. Tolerance quickly leads to addiction. People who abuse ketamine want to continue getting the desired effects. They take more and more in hopes of getting high, often to unhealthy or dangerous levels.

Signs and Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine addiction can be difficult to spot because the signs and symptoms of ketamine addiction can be mistaken for other conditions. Some of the most common ketamine addiction signs include:

  • Using ketamine in larger amounts or for a longer period than intended
  • Increased tolerance to ketamine, requiring more of the drug to achieve the desired effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you reduce or stop ketamine use
  • Spending a lot of time using or recovering from ketamine use
  • Difficulty at work, school, or home due to ketamine use
  • Continuing to use ketamine despite negative effects or consequences
  • Feeling unable to control ketamine use
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using ketamine
  • Having intense cravings to use ketamine

If you are concerned a loved one is addicted to ketamine, you can watch for these physical signs of ketamine addiction:

  • Constant sniffing if they are snorting it
  • Pale skin
  • Track marks on arms if they are injecting it
  • Weight loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Significant changes in behavior, often becoming more reclusive and isolated
  • Problems with movement or coordination
  • Stomach issues like nausea or vomiting

Emotional and behavioral signs of ketamine abuse may include:

  • Increased anxiety or agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Delusions
  • Changes in mood, including depression and anxiety
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Nausea and vomiting

Can You Overdose on Ketamine?

People can overdose on ketamine by taking too much of the drug. This can happen accidentally or on purpose in an attempt to get high. When someone takes too much ketamine, they may experience toxic effects that can be life-threatening.

The amount of ketamine required to overdose can vary depending on your size, weight, and tolerance. Symptoms of an overdose may include

  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Hyperactivity
  • Agitation
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

If you experience any of these symptoms after taking ketamine, seek medical help immediately.

Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Ketamine abuse can cause withdrawal symptoms. When you abuse ketamine , your brain becomes accustomed to the drug’s effects. If you suddenly quit taking ketamine, your brain may become overwhelmed as chemicals try to rebalance without the drug. This can cause ketamine withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Irregular heartbeat

Using Ketamine with Alcohol and Drugs

Mixing ketamine with alcohol can be a dangerous combination. Ketamine intensifies alcohol’s effects and can lead to serious health problems. Alcohol also interferes with the body’s ability to process ketamine, which can lead to an overdose. In addition, mixing alcohol and ketamine can cause dehydration and increase the risk of organ damage.

Some drug users take ketamine with other drugs to enhance the experience. Combining ketamine with other drugs can increase the risk of adverse reactions and overdose. Ecstasy, LSD, and speed are drugs often used in combination with ketamine. Ketamine use with these drugs can cause intense hallucinations and decreased coordination. It can also put you at risk for:

  • Disruptions to heart functioning
  • Memory loss
  • Coma
  • Slowed breathing
  • Death

Treatment for Ketamine Addiction

Addiction treatment for ketamine should be tailored to your clinical needs and unique situation. Some people may need to attend a drug detox program to rid their body of the ketamine, while others may simply need counseling and support to overcome their addiction.

Some treatment approaches used in ketamine addiction treatment include:

  • Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or contingency management interventions
  • Antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and anti-anxiety medications to help some of the psychological symptoms of ketamine withdrawal
  • Inpatient treatment programs for people severely addicted to ketamine or who are also abusing alcohol or other drugs
  • Outpatient programs that allow people to live at home while attending addiction treatment – These programs are suitable for people whose severity of addiction does not require a higher level of care.
  • Ongoing support in recovery like 12-step groups or 12-step alternatives to maintain sobriety after formal treatment

Addiction Therapies for Ketamine Abuse

There are various addiction therapies that can help people overcome ketamine abuse. Some of these include:

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies in addiction treatment generally focus on changing maladaptive behaviors and helping you achieve and maintain abstinence. Common therapies include:

These approaches help you address the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to substance abuse. They can also help you:

  • Develop skills to manage addiction
  • Find your motivation for recovery
  • Stay abstinent
  • Create a more fulfilling life

Individual Therapy

In drug rehabs, individual therapy is used in combination with other treatments like group therapy or medication. Individual therapy involves meeting one-on-one with a therapist to discuss your addiction and work on strategies for recovery. The therapist will help you identify the factors that may have contributed to your addiction. You will work on coping skills to help you stay sober.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is one of the most common treatments for addiction. It involves a group of people meeting to share their stories and struggles and support each other. Group therapy can be a very effective treatment experience. Group therapy is helpful for people who feel alone or ashamed of their addiction. It can also be a way to learn new coping skills and receive support from others who understand what you’re going through.

Holistic Approaches

Holistic approaches to addiction treatment are often used in combination with traditional therapies. They can include activities like:

  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness
  • Art therapy
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Spiritual activities

Substance abuse affects you physically, mentally, and spiritually. Holistic treatments aim to treat the whole person, not just the addiction.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis is the term used to describe the presence of two or more disorders in a person at the same time. In addiction treatment, dual diagnosis is when substance use disorders co-occur with mental health disorders. Some common mental health disorders that occur alongside addiction are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder

Dual diagnosis treatment is designed to address the addiction and the mental health disorder simultaneously. This type of treatment can be delivered in different settings, including inpatient or outpatient rehab programs, psychiatric hospitals, or community mental health centers.

Dual diagnosis treatment typically includes a combination of:

  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Support services

You may be prescribed medication to help manage symptoms of your mental health disorder. Therapy can help you learn how to manage your addiction and deal with underlying issues that may have contributed to your addiction.

Support Groups and Aftercare

There are many different types of support groups and aftercare used in addiction treatment. Some common support groups are 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These offer peer support and a system of recovery that can help people maintain sobriety.

There are also many different types of aftercare, such as:

  • Outpatient therapy
  • Sober living home
  • Alumni meetings at a treatment facility like Vogue Recovery Center

Aftercare provides continued support and guidance to people who have completed addiction treatment. It can help maintain sobriety and prevent relapse.

How Long Does Ketamine Addiction Treatment Last?

There is not one answer to this question. The length of ketamine addiction treatment varies depending on the individual and their specific needs. Most addiction treatment programs last around 30 days, with some programs lasting 90 days or longer.

Concerned About Your Ketamine Use?

If you or someone you love is struggling with ketamine addiction, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Ketamine is a powerful drug that can cause serious health problems, including organ damage and overdose.

Addiction can be difficult to overcome, but it’s not impossible. There are treatment options available that can help you take back your life from drugs and alcohol. Vogue Recovery Center offers comprehensive treatment programs that include detox, individual counseling, group therapy, and more. We also offer aftercare services to help you stay on track after leaving our facility.

If you’re ready to take the first step toward ketamine recovery, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our program and how we can help you or your loved one recover from ketamine addiction.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470357/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541087/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5126726/
  4. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Ketamine-2020_1.pdf
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8107456/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541087/
Vaun Williams

Medically Reviewed by Vaun Williams, Psy.D., LPC

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